Common Signs That You Need to Make More Money

By Jacqueline DeMarco · July 12, 2022 · 6 minute read

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Common Signs That You Need to Make More Money

You’re working hard at your job day after day and you’re far from extravagant, yet it’s a strain to pay bills and you’re falling short on savings goals.

At this point you may well wonder, am I making enough money? Keep reading for some helpful ways to tell if you should be making more money.

10 Red Flags That Signal That Your Income Is Too Low

Do you frequently ask yourself whether you should be making more money — or you feel as if you’re not making money work for you? If so, it’s possible you aren’t making enough. Let’s take a look at some factors that indicate someone needs to be earning more in order to thrive financially.

1. Not Being Able to Pay Your Bills

As long as you aren’t renting a luxurious high rise or leasing a fancy car you truly can’t afford, you should be making enough to pay your basic bills. It can be difficult to save money with a low income. But if you’re working full-time to cover things like rent, car payment, health care, and utilities, that’s a sign you need to earn more money.

2. Using Your Credit Card for All Expenses

There’s nothing wrong with using a credit card to pay for expenses if you can afford to pay your credit card bill off in full when your monthly statement arrives. That’s a great way to earn cash back and credit card rewards.

A problem arises if you need to use a credit card in order to cover expenses because you don’t earn enough to buy essentials like food and personal hygiene items (this theory does not apply to unnecessary purchases like designer clothes).

3. Not Being Able to Have an Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund can help consumers prepare for financial emergencies that no one expects. From job loss to medical bills to car repairs, there are certain financial hurdles we can assume we’ll need to clear one day, but it’s hard to predict when they’ll come and how much they’ll cost. If someone can’t build up an emergency fund to provide a buffer in a financial crisis, then that likely means they’re living paycheck to paycheck.

4. Paying Only the Minimum on Debts

As mentioned, turning to a credit card to cover essential purchases can be a sign of not making enough money. This can lead to high-interest credit-card debt, which can be hard to pay down without making extra payments. If you can’t afford to make extra payments on a credit card or other form of debt, increasing your income can make it possible to make those extra debt payments and save money on interest payments.

5. Not Being Able to Cut Anything Else

If you take a cold, hard look at your budgets and realize you can’t cut any more expenses because you are only paying for essentials (and ideally there should be room in a budget for a couple of fun purchases too), then that’s a sign you need an income increase, because living on such a tight budget isn’t sustainable long-term.

6. Not Being Able to Build Savings

The good news is you are motivated to save money, but when you are living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t put money aside, even though you know that saving is important.

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7. Making the Same Wage Despite Company Growing

If your company is growing and flourishing, in part because of contributions made by you and other workers, you may deserve to earn more than you’re currently making.

8. Not Being Able to Reach Financial Goals

If you are earning enough money and sticking to a budget, then in theory you should be able to make slow but steady progress toward your financial goals. Failing to do so means you’re coming up short on salary.

9. Consistently Struggling to Make Ends Meet at the Beginning of the Month

Many people start to run out of spending money at the end of the month after they’ve paid all their bills (especially if they were hit with unexpected expenses), but if you are consistently struggling to make ends meet at the beginning of the month, this is a sign you aren’t making enough to pay your essential bills.

10. Worrying About Money Consistently

We all deserve a good night’s rest, not lying awake worrying about how to pay the bills. If you are consistently worrying about money and trying to figure out how to tackle financial anxiety and stress, that’s a major sign you aren’t earning enough money.

Tips for Negotiating a Higher Wage With Your Employer

So you are constantly wondering, am I making enough money? That’s a pretty good sign it’s time to have a conversation about a raise.

These tips will help you get ready to tell your boss what you need.

•   Research salary data. Before an employee comes to their boss with a request for a raise, they need to get an idea of how much workers in similar roles at other companies earn. Luckily, there are tons of online resources where workers share their job titles and salaries. It can also help to look at the salaries listed on current job postings similar to your position.

•   Make a list of accomplishments. Workers should approach the boss with the facts about how good they are at their jobs and why they deserve to earn more. Make a list that specifies some of your major contributions and use that to back up your ask.

•   Have an alternate ask. Sometimes a company truly can’t afford to give a good employee a raise. Perhaps they will have a lecture ready on the pain of inflation. In that case, is there something they can do to make your life easier? Can they make it possible to work remotely and save on commuting? Can they give you more PTO or a flexible schedule to help cut down on day care costs?

The Takeaway

If someone frequently wonders, am I making enough money, that’s a pretty good sign they need to ask for a raise. If they evaluate their spending habits and find they really are only buying essentials and still feel stressed about money, then it’s especially timely to ask for a raise.

If you’re worried about making enough money, it can also help to ensure the funds already in your bank account are working for you. When you open an online bank account with SoFi, you can enjoy an all-in-one Checking and Savings with no fees, automatic saving features, and a competitive interest rate when you sign up for direct deposit.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


How do I know if I’m being underpaid?

Often, people have a gut instinct on whether they’re being underpaid. To back up that instinct, do salary research online to see what workers in similar roles and industries are earning.

How much money must I earn to feel it is enough?

Having “enough” money depends on your unique perspective. That being said, you need to be able to comfortably pay your bills and cover essential expenses without having to worry that you’re running out of money each month.

How can I save if I don’t make enough money?

It can be hard to save money if you don’t earn much more income than you require to get by. Consumers can always scrutinize their budget to see where they can cut back spending in order to save more. Too many streaming services? Or pricey lunches? Start there.

Photo credit: iStock/nensuria

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