Though the unemployment rate has slowly been decreasing over the past year, the economy as a whole is still not in great shape. Many people are still unemployed or underemployed. Regardless if you fall into either of these two categories, or you have a decent paying job, you still need to be smart with your money if you want to get ahead financially. I’m not talking retire early get ahead, but rather, get into a comfortable position financially so that you can afford to take a vacation, have money set aside for emergencies, are saving for your retirement, etc.

So how do you get ahead in this economy? Here are a few tips.

Tips To Get Ahead In This Economy

It’s All About Hustle

If you sit at home all day and watch television, waiting for the phone to ring for a new job or promotion, chances are you are going to be waiting for a very long time. Now more than ever, you can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. You need to go out and make things happen.

This means you need to be out there, meeting new people all of the time. You never know who might be the one to give you a better paying job or a job in the first place. Likewise, by getting out and talking to people, you can understand common needs that many people might have. You might be able to find a way to fill that need and in the process, start your own business.

You need not spend a lot of money doing this either. There are plenty of free networking events listed all over the internet. Take some time to find ones in your area and make sure you attend them.

Become Invaluable

If you have a job and want a promotion or a raise, make it a point to become invaluable. Find ways to improve the processes you currently use. Question why things are done a certain way. I guarantee you, you will hear ‘because we’ve always done it this way’ at least once. When you hear this, stop and focus on it. Just because it’s always been that way doesn’t meet that is still the best way to do it. Technology has come a long way.

Another option to becoming invaluable is to find the tasks your boss hates doing. Then see if you can do them for him or her. Some things you won’t be able to take off their hands, but I’m sure there are many things you can. Even if you can’t take over the responsibility, see if there is a way you can make the task less time consuming for your boss.

When you start finding ways to do things better and cheaper at work, make sure you let your boss know. Don’t brag about it, but let them know. If they don’t know what you have done how can you get paid for it? By doing these things and making it known to your boss, you can then approach them about a pay raise. Just make sure you do this a few months before your annual review.

Save, Save, Save

Just putting your money into a savings account isn’t very glamorous. But it has to be done. Same can be said for investing your money. In both cases, automate the process. The more you can automate, the less you have to think about and take action on.

You need a good amount of savings ñ for emergencies, retirement, general living, kids college education ñ so the more you can save, the more compound interest can work its magic. Do your best to question wants and needs. Do you really need that new pair of jeans? Is buying the latest smartphone really the smartest move when it’s virtually the same as the one you currently own (and yours still works fine)?

I’m not saying you have to live a life without buying things, just question your purchases more first. You’ll find that there are many things you don’t really need to have.

Multiply Your Income Sources

Back in the day, our parents got a job, worked there for 30+ years and retired. Today, we jump from job to job a lot, plus, companies lay off workers much more frequently than in the past. Relying on just your paycheck could spell disaster if you haven’t been good at saving your money.

To conquer this, multiple your income sources. Find other things to do on the side for additional income. I’m not saying you need to work a second job for 30 hours a week. Figure out the things you really enjoy doing and then see if you can make money doing it.

Maybe you like to write. There are tons of freelance jobs on sites like oDesk and eLance. You could easily make $20 or more per article you write. If you are good at writing, the entire process of writing the article won’t take you that long.

Or, you might like working outdoors. See if you can mow your neighbors lawns in the summer and shovel their driveways in the winter. Play guitar? Teach lessons. Anything you enjoy doing won’t feel like work. The bonus is that you will get paid for it! You can then use this money to boost your savings.

Final Thoughts

In this economy, you need to do more just to survive. The better financial shape you put yourself into, the more easily you will weather any downturn in the future. No one wants to just barely get by. Take the steps needed to get into great financial shape so that you are better prepared for what may come.