Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t build wealth working a 9 to 5 job?” It’s not true, and I’m proof-positive of how working a traditional 9 to 5 job can get you rich.
Your 9 to 5 job probably offers everything you need to build wealth over time. But, believe it or not, people get rich from their regular jobs all the time. After all, we aren’t all business owners, are we? Of course not. Most of us aren’t.
4 ways to build wealth working a 9 to 5 job
There are more than 22 million millionaires in the United States, and a lot of these millionaires work typical jobs just like you. So how can you get rich working a traditional 9 to 5 job?
Invest in your company’s long-term investment accounts
Many companies offer employees some kind of company-sponsored retirement plan, such as the Traditional 401(k), the Roth IRA, and even an HSA or Health Savings Account.
The Traditional 401(k) is a great way to boost your retirement savings, not to mention improve your quality of life with a more comfy nest egg of cash once you retire. For an additional perk, some companies also match a certain percentage of your contributions, which is 100% free money.
Your 401(k) is a “pre-tax” investment, which means your taxable income is reduced by the amount of money that you invest in a 401(k). Note that high-income employees (those who earn more than $305,000 a year, according to the IRS for 2022) are not eligible for a 401(k). Therefore, the most you can contribute to a 401(k) in 2022 is $20,500.
The Roth IRA is a “post-tax” investment, which means you contribute after-tax income into your Roth account. However, those contributions grow tax-free. You can contribute up to $6,000 into your Roth IRA if you’re younger than 50. If you’re 50 or older, the limit is $7,000.
Health Savings Accounts are great options for further investments. HSAs offer a “triple tax benefit.” First, HSAs are “pre-tax” savings accounts for health-related expenses (such as healthcare deductibles and other qualified expenses). Second, money can be withdrawn from HSA accounts at any time tax-free (again, only for qualified medical expenses). But after turning 65, your HSA turns into a traditional 401(k). This means any remaining money in your HSA can be withdrawn and spent on anything without restriction.
Note that HSAs require high deductible health plans, so they won’t be right for everyone.
Suppose your employer has made these options available. In that case, they probably offer automatic payroll deductions too to help you contribute money into these types of investment plans, making the process of building wealth over time simple, easy, and automatic.
Proactively ask for raises and promotions
Asking for raises and promotions can be a great way to boost your income working a 9 to 5 job. You just need to be smart with how you ask and when.
For instance, don’t ask for a raise if you know that your company is struggling financially or laying off large portions of the staff. Also, try to avoid hectic or stressful days to ask your boss for a raise or a promotion. Instead, whenever possible, choose a day that tends to be calm.
Also, have your argument ready. Be prepared to show tangible accomplishments. Present evidence that you’ve consistently exceeded expectations and deserve a salary commensurate with your contributions to the company. Never threaten to quit unless you already have another position lined up, and even then, doing this can turn the discussion uncomfortable.
Never say that you “need more money” or that “times are tough.” Those aren’t convincing arguments, and most managers will quickly dismiss your request. Instead, keep your argument focused on how you’ve performed over the months and years of working for that company.
Show up every day
My dad always used to tell me that showing up is half the battle. He was right. Work ethic has a way of improving your “luck.” Be a team player. Do what you say you’re going to do. The bar is set pretty low these days.
As a manager in the information technology industry for more than a decade, I noticed when people didn’t come to work or consistently left early. Yes, vacations are okay. Sick days are fine. But, some employees clearly took advantage of every opportunity to be out of the office, and it showed. Those employees were rarely in line for a promotion or raise.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to find another job. Every time I moved to a different company, I got a 15 to 20% raise. Taking another position is a great opportunity to ask for more money. In fact, it’s a natural part of the process!
Control your spending and limit your debts
High-income debt is a big problem. Even if you earn a big salary, your lifestyle and expenses play a huge role in how rich you become.
Debt kills your chances of building wealth, and this is especially true with consumer debt. I never took out high-interest loans over my career, and it helped me build wealth without climbing down from a mountain of debt.
I never paid a single dime of interest on my credit cards. The only auto loan I took was a 0% interest loan, which helped me leverage more cash flow at the time. And, I only bought as much house as I could afford. Mortgages tend to be people’s most significant debts.
Boosting your income is great, but if you’re spending the majority of what you make to keep up with the Joneses, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot before you begin the race.
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
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Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.