Here’s How I Doubled My Income in One Year

Happy woman reviewing paperwork and a laptop at home

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You’ll never know what you can achieve if you don’t try.

Key points

  • Changing careers was only the beginning of the big changes I made to my finances in the last year.
  • Working with a financial planner did wonders for my outlook as well as my bank account.
  • Finding the right work fit for me meant that I could invest in myself and grow as a professional and a wage earner.

My finances changed more in 2022 than ever before. This was partly due to switching careers altogether in mid-2021; I went from working as a museum professional to working as a digital content editor and writer. This improved my circumstances in multiple ways. Suddenly, I was free to live wherever I wanted, rather than being tied to a set location. And thanks to working remotely, I found myself with more job options. Finally, by leaving museums, I saw my income possibilities increase. While I loved a lot of my museum work (especially researching and creating informative exhibits and engaging public programs), I often struggled to get by and had to go into debt to make ends meet.

Early this year, I decided that I was tired of carrying debt and living only for the present because I couldn’t really afford to think about the future. I had also learned from my past financial missteps and wanted to do better. Here’s what I did to dramatically improve my finances.

I started working with a financial planner

At the beginning of this year, I fell into working with a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) by accident. After a chance meeting on social media (never underestimate the importance of networking everywhere), we agreed to trade services (editing from me, money advice from him). I had always thought that only rich people needed to work with finance professionals, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a lot a CFP could do for me. Having honest conversations about my finances (including debt) and my goals (such as buying another house) helped lay the groundwork for my financial moves this year and also served as ongoing encouragement. When a finance professional tells you you’re doing great, your imposter syndrome may actually quiet down for once.

I found the right work for me

While reining in your spending and living on a budget are excellent financial moves no matter who you are, sometimes the biggest problem is that you just don’t make enough money. This was the case for me for a very long time, and going into 2022, I knew I needed to get a side hustle. But while a side hustle may be more casual than a full-time job, it still took me a few tries to find the right fit. I had a couple disappointing false starts in part-time jobs at the beginning of the year, and by the time I came to The Ascent, I had my doubts that this whole side hustle thing was going to work.

To my great surprise and delight, I loved my work and my new colleagues pretty much immediately. Being surrounded by people who are good with money and freely share their financial expertise and experiences has been amazing for my own knowledge — and accordingly, my bank account. And if you love what you do, it makes it that much easier to do more of it — and watch your income grow accordingly.

I started thinking seriously about the future

Goals are important, and I’ve found that having concrete goals I want to achieve, like homeownership, has been an amazing motivator for me to work more, increase my earnings, and also get out of debt. I achieved my debt payoff far sooner than I had originally anticipated, and can now move onto phase two of my plan: putting aside money for that house down payment and all the costs of homeownership. Now, when I pick up an extra writing assignment or I spend a few hours editing early on a Saturday morning, I’m doing it for the good of my future self.

I’d be lying if I said this last year was easy. I’ve hunkered down, worked a lot of hours, and sometimes felt as if all I do is work. But it’s really paid off, and I know I’ve done so much to invest in myself and my future happiness, along with doubling my income. If you’re struggling with your finances, take a page from my book: Seek advice from professionals, find the right work for you, and think seriously about your money goals and how to achieve them. You won’t regret it.

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