If you want to improve your money situation in 2015, one of the most effective things you can do is to increase your earnings.
'Easier said than done' might be your initial response to that, but with a bit of careful planning and a determined attitude, there is no reason why you can't change your life by making more money this year.
Here are five productive changes that could help you boost your income.
Negotiate a pay rise
If you have been a reliable, productive worker with the same employer for a few years but haven't seen your efforts reflected in your wages, you could be entitled to a pay rise.
You'll never know if you don't ask, and no-one else is going to ask for you. Remember that you are not doing anything wrong in enquiring about a pay rise and the worst your employer can do is say no.
There are a few things to bear in mind when broaching the issue. Firstly, arrange an official meeting and give your boss an indication of what you want to discuss. Rather than simply saying you could do with some more money, put forward a reasoned case by outlining your achievements and explaining why you think you deserve a pay rise.
You could also help your case by doing some research on what people in similar roles within your company or at other organisations are earning.
Get serious about getting a new job
Has a job change been on your mind for some time but you still haven't done anything about it? If so, the start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to get serious about a career overhaul.
Dedicate some time to doing the things that will give you the best possible chance of getting a new job, such as updating your CV, checking it for errors and making sure it's as concise as possible.
Submit as many applications as you can and be sure to tweak your CV and cover letter to reflect each vacancy's unique characteristics.
When you get to the interview stage, prepare thoroughly by researching your prospective employer, anticipating possible questions and thinking of some interesting and relevant ones of your own.
Consider new ventures
Starting your own business venture might not be the best way to make money in the short term, but, if you go about it in the right way with careful planning and research, it could be your route to greater financial freedom and prosperity in the future.
In this day and age, the internet provides the perfect starting point for many people interested in launching their own enterprise. If creativity is your strong suit, consider building your own website to sell things you have made at home.
Another common online business model is buying products in bulk from overseas and selling them individually, often on platforms like eBay and Amazon Marketplace.
If you're thinking about an investment, there are few assets as reliable as property when it comes to delivering returns. Make sure you do plenty of research beforehand to assess your options for making money from property, possibly through the buy-to-let market or by renovating a run-down house and selling it on.
Sell unwanted items
You might be surprised to discover how much you could make by selling old bits and pieces that have been gathering dust around your house for years. After all, one person's clutter is another person's treasure.
As long as they are still in good enough condition for someone else to use, old DVDs, books, CDs, clothes and children's toys could all provide a valuable boost to your income.
The arrival of the internet has made it easier than ever to showcase things you have to sell and find someone interested in buying them.
Claim what you're entitled to
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if you are working, you are not entitled to any government benefits or allowances. It's well worth looking into the various forms of financial support available, especially if your family income is below £72,000.
Working tax credits, housing benefit, council tax support, pension credits, child benefit and child tax credits are a few of the facilities that could be providing a boost to your regular income.
You can find out what you might be able to claim by logging on to entitledto.co.uk and using the benefits calculator.
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