Increase Your Income with 5 Topgrading Competencies

These 5 Abilities are Important and Comparatively Easy to Develop

While there are many ways to earn extra money on the side, the primary way to earn more is to get paid more for your work. Improving your skills is a key ingredient to getting paid more. But there are many ways to improve. The question is: which improvements are both easiest to make and likely to have the greatest impact on your ability, value to your employer, and income?

Man watering a plant that he is standing on

In the book Topgrading, author Bradford Smart lays out no fewer than 50 job competencies. These are 50 areas in which every employee has more or less ability. Topgrading is a book about hiring. The competencies are discussed to help an employer make a top hire.

But in reading about the competencies, I realized it could be reverse-engineered to help someone become more valuable to a current or perspective employer.

Specifically, 5 of the 50 competencies are considered by experienced Topgraders to be both highly important and easy to change. Focusing on growing in those 5 competencies presents a leveraged opportunity. They offer 5 ways to make yourself more valuable to an employer with comparative ease.

In this post I will provide a snapshot of the 50 Topgrading competencies. Then I’ll discuss how to increase your ability—and hopefully your income—through improving in the key 5. (more…)

4 New Opportunities to Earn $500 on the Side

You Should be able to Earn $100/hour or More with These 4 Opportunities

Four good bank offers have come out over the past week or so, as reported by Doctor of Credit. Each offer allows you to earn $500 or more. They represent a fairly easy way to add to your financial bottom line.

Chase $300, $200, or $500 offer

Here’s an overview of each of the four offers, together with my recommendation for which one(s) to get, depending on your circumstances: (more…)

How to Use Expected Value to Save Time and Money

Make Everyday Decisions with the Mind of a Poker Pro

Poker legend Doyle Brunson is rumored to have been asked whether he would take the following bet. A coin is flipped. If it comes up heads, Doyle loses his entire net worth. Tails, he wins 10 times his net worth. Doyle responded, “I’d have to take that bet.”

Man flipping coin, representing Doyle Brunson's expected value decision

He’d “have to” take that bet because of a concept called expected value. Even if some of us wouldn’t take that particular bet, the concept of expected value can help us make better decisions in many areas of life, especially those involving time and money.

In this post, I’ll define expected value and show how you can use it to save time and money. (more…)

Deep Work: 4 Ways to more Time, Money, and Flourishing

Insights from “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Deep work significantly impacts all three of the aims of this blog: time, money, and what matters most. In this post I will define deep work. Then, I’ll show how it helps you have more time and money and how it helps you realize what matters most in life. Finally, I’ll share four ways to infuse your life with deep work.

Einstein, a model of deep work, standing in front of a chalk board with an equation written on it

Einstein modeled deep work, employing intense focus to achieve greatness.

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Cashback vs. Miles and Points: Which is Better?

How to Get the Most out of Credit Card Spend

A reader named Blake wrote in to ask me the following question about credit card rewards: If your intent is to travel, would you rather have travel points rewarded you or straight cash? My thought is that with cash I have more freedom to search the cheapest flight, at the right time, going to the right place. Do you think this is a true assumption?

Man pondering whether cashback is the way to go

It’s a great question—one that probably a lot of folks have. Years ago, I agreed with Blake’s assumption. “Cash is king,” I thought. Often, it is. But sometimes, you can do better—even much better—with miles and points. Let me explain. (more…)

4 Benefits to Bank Account Bonuses and How to Get Them

It is Possible to Earn $2,000+ Each Year from Bank Account Bonuses

Did you know that you can often earn $50-400 by opening a bank account? Such amounts, especially when earned repeatedly, can meaningfully boost a lot of folks’ finances. Also, for those who shouldn’t sign up for credit cards because they carry debt, signing up for bank accounts with big bonuses is a viable alternative.

Man receiving money from the bank

In this post I’ll explain what bank account bonuses are. I’ll cover their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll show you how to find the best bonuses. And I’ll assess whether bank account bonuses are a good deal. (more…)

How to Live the 80/20 Rule for What Matters Most

Why the 80/20 Rule is a Key Principle for Having More Time and Money

The 80/20 rule states that 80% of effects are determined by 20% of their causes. The rule is also known as the Pareto Principle, after the 19th Century Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto noticed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. (Weird thing to notice.) He also showed that about 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Man contemplating how he can use the 80/20 rule to achieve 80% of the result with 20% of the input

The Pareto Principle is not a law, like gravity. It’s a rule of thumb. It fits a wide array of phenomena. Consider, for instance, these applications of the rule across a variety of fields: (more…)

Last Chance for the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Bonus

Saturday, March 11 is the Last Day to Get the 100k Signup Bonus

The Chase Sapphire Reserve ranks #1 on my list of Best Credit Card Signup Offers. Indeed, with its lucrative 100,000 point signup bonus, it is arguably the best credit card ever offered.

Megaphone Displaying "Last Chance," as this is the Last Chance to get the 100k Signup Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve

As I detailed in this post, the card will net most folks at least $1,650 of value toward travel.

To get the 100k points, you need to spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months of card membership. Getting $1,650 of value by spending $4,000 is like getting 41% back on that $4,000 of spend. (more…)

5 Creative Ways to Meet the Minimum Spend Requirement in Order to Get the Sign-up Bonus

How to Travel for Free: Part 5 of 7

A couple months ago a friend approached me with a frantic look on her face. Ready to change a tire, use my knife, or recommend a brand of scotch (hey, I thought it might be a real emergency), I sprang to my feet. “I’m afraid,” she stammered. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to meet the minimum spend on my new United card….”

France, a great miles and points destination

Knife and pride restored to their proper place, I reassured her: there are many creative ways to meet the minimum spend. (more…)

Which Credit Cards to Get to Maximize Free Travel

How to Travel for Free: Part 4 of 7

In the previous posts in this series, I’ve shared an approach to getting a lot of free travel by taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses. I also explained why doing so usually has a positive, not negative, effect on one’s long-term credit score (provided you pay your credit card off each month)—a conclusion that would surprise most people. Two questions then arise: how often can I sign up for credit cards and which ones should I sign up for?

Roman square

How Often Can I Sign up for Credit Cards?

There is no cut and dry answer to this question. But I would offer these three points by way of reply:

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