Career & Money

What's The Path To Six Figures? Here's How To Level Up

When it comes to earning a living, we all know that there's a wage gap for Black women. And while we can acknowledge disappointing realities, we can also consider our hopes and still work toward making a dream of financial freedom a reality. There is a specific price tag on certain lifestyles, and even if a soft life is what you're into, it'll cost you.

Many of us simply want to earn enough to pay our bills, make sure our families are thriving, and retire peacefully. With the way this economy has been going, the price of simple survival keeps going up and up. According to a 2023 Pew Research Center report, 40 percent of Black adults in the U.S. say "an annual income of $100,000 or more is enough to lead the kind of life they want." So how do you level up from a five-figure salary to six figures?

First, let's address mindset: If you want to earn more, you have to think from a space of abundance, patience, and strategy, not one of fear, scarcity, and inaction. Take it from entrepreneur Chris Bible, who, when sharing her experience with a six-figure mindset shift, told xoNecole, "Most importantly, I had to embrace that I was worthy and capable of reaching a certain level of success and that it could be done all on my own." This is a powerful first step: Affirming and making a commitment to recognizing you are worthy and capable of reaching a financial goal.

Now let's get to a few ways to get to six figures:

1. Invest in higher education or additional training.

Research has shown that those who have earned bachelor's degrees or higher earn more than those who do not, and the top six-figure jobs require advanced degrees. That's not to say you can't earn six figures without going to college, but it's definitely one sure-fire six-figure path for many.

If you already have a bachelor's degree, consider going for a master's or higher. Find out what advanced skills or credentials are required to get a higher-paying job within your field.

Sometimes, you can get certifications or specialized training to do jobs that aren't necessarily what you went to college for but can enhance what you already offer as a professional, so be sure to look into those, especially if you work in the medical, tech, financial services, or psychological industries.

2. Apply for a new job and negotiate higher pay at the start.

Job hopping doesn't have the stigma attached to it that it used to, and for some, it's the best way to earn more. One good example of this is Chinneah El-Amin, founder of Flynanced. She worked in tech and banking, according to CNBC, and, in her 20s, went from being a senior project analyst (with an offer for $68,000 that she negotiated up to $72,000) to technical project manager (with an offer of $186,000 and she negotiated a signing bonus of $29,000).

True, El-Amin worked in industries that could pay that type of money, but again, if your desire is to earn six figures, the industry you're in (and whether you might want to transition for finance's sake) is something to consider.

Either way, negotiate no matter what, especially if you're a mid- or senior-level professional who has the experience, talent, training, and acumen to lean on.

Just because a company claims a salary is "the best" or "industry standard" doesn't mean you shouldn't negotiate. The worst you could get is a "no," or even better: You find that the company isn't one you want to invest years of your life working for at all, since they don't put dollars behind the most valuable asset in the world: Human capital.

3. Start a lucrative side hustle.

This one is a given. Side hustles are always promoted in stories like this, but you just can't get away from facts. Some side hustles can add more than $4000 to your monthly income if done just part-time, especially if you're savvy with tech, social media, or digital marketing. Other lucrative side hustles include offering services or products via e-commerce, personal fitness and/or wellness, mobile notary, and travel agents.

4. Sell your expertise and talents via speaking, digital products, or consulting.

This is yet another way to earn six figures and even transition out of a 9-to-5. If you have a gift for communications, public relations, marketing, or teaching, you can create workbooks, audiobooks, art, tutorials, and courses for download. (This couple started making six figures after selling patterns for doll clothes, for example.) If you're not great with actually creating and marketing the concept, take it to a freelance professional to bring it to life and market it for you. Take a few courses, research the best platforms (and their fees), and invest in a reputable tutorial on how to create and market digital products on social.

Another great way to add to your current salary is to get paid for speaking engagements or consulting gigs at schools, organizational retreats, churches, or conferences. Get a speaking or consulting mentor, join a networking organization, pursue more training to prepare you for success, and tap into your personal and professional communities to find out where you can serve through speaking.

5. Bonus: Invest, invest, invest.

Technically, this isn't really tied to your salary, but investing can help you add to your overall bottom line and prep for financial freedom in the future. I can't say this enough: At a minimum, be sure you're tapped into your company's 401K and that you know whether they're matching your investment or not. Let it grow, and avoid withdrawing from it if you can. If you're not into the idea of investing with your company's retirement options (or your company doesn't offer any), consider your options for an IRA (individual retirement account).

Above that, start investing via an online platform or open a brokerage account. (Here are a few good beginner-friendly options). Be inspired by women like Tiffany James, who turned a $10,000 stock market investment into a million-dollar portfolio. True, investing in stocks can be risky, but there are opportunities to add to your wealth if this is something you're willing to be patient and diligent about.

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Featured image by Mariia Vitkovska/Getty Images




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