How to Earn More Money at Your 9 to 5 (So You Can Invest It in Real Estate!)

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Real estate is hard. It is. Finding deals is hard. Finding a good team is hard. There is competition. You won’t have the resources the big dogs do. Gaining experience is hard. Learning can be painful. This niche is very rewarding, but it’s not easy.

If you want to succeed, you need to give yourself all the advantages you can. Having the right habits, knowing the right people, and finding good mentors can mean the difference between a great investing career and a mediocre one. I’m here to help make sure yours is great.

For many of you, the only thing holding you back is yourself.

I don’t mean that as an insult. You likely have no idea you’re doing it. You’ve been trained to. I’m a Millennial. Many of you are, too. We grew up in an era where we were trained that our feelings matter first and foremost, our needs matter, everyone gets a trophy, blah blah blah. You’ve heard all this before. And it’s true! But for many Millennials, this entitlement culture didn’t actually help us by sparing our feelings. It set us back. It robbed us of the opportunity to develop the skills required to master both ourselves and our career fields. It turned our attention so far inward, so deep within ourselves, that we really can’t see much more than what we are feeling or experiencing in any given moment or situation. This is bad if you want to be a real estate investor. It’s bad if you want to make strong connections. It’s bad if you ever want to actually be good at something at all.

It’s honestly just really bad, and you might have NO idea how much it’s hurting your success. We have been carried on shoulders our whole life, then thrown into the work world, where the strength of our legs determines our success. It’s pretty much open sabotage.

The purpose of this article is to share some of the mindsets I developed that helped me to succeed at everyday, blue collar jobs so I could make enough money to get started investing. The fact is, it takes money to invest. It takes work to make money. The better you are at your job, the more money you can make and the faster you can bring around that life you really want. The sooner you accept this, the better. The stereotypical Millennial spends so much energy protesting, complaining, and stubbornly wishing the world would cave in to their desires and rearrange itself so they can find success without having to earn it. Imagine what they could do if they put that same passion, energy, and drive into actually working harder at a job. The concept is incredible, I know, but still — what a waste.

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Related: 10 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Sabotage Ambitious Millennials

While listening to BP podcast #170 (an awesome episode with my buddy Andrew Cushman), I heard Josh mention how hard it is to find an applicant to actually follow the instructions he provides for submitting a resume. This is amazing to me, but I don’t doubt it’s true. I’m sure the majority of the applicants want Josh to rearrange his requirements to make it easier for them to apply. However, that’s not how the world works, and that’s a horrible attitude to have as an applying employee. These people are asking Josh to give them his money. You’d think their attitude would be that of trying to show what value they can bring, not trying to get him to change the way he runs his business to suit them before they even work there.

This got me thinking. How many people are out there who think the same way? How much progress could be made if they took the same energy they use to complain, whine, protest and try to change the world — and used it to change themselves to fit better within the world? As I continued to think about this, I realized I had luckily grasped some concepts at a young age that really served me well in the myriad of jobs I’ve had up to this point.

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What I Learned From My First Jobs

My first job of note was working at a Togo’s Sandwich shop. It didn’t pay much, and I quickly learned there were too many sandwich makers for me to ever get more than 15 hours a week. I noticed the shift managers not only made more, but they got more hours. Double score. Once I learned the job and proved I was worth keeping on, I asked to sit down with the manager and speak with her about what I could do to become a shift manager. Turns out the standard was pretty dang low. Show up on time, make sandwiches fast, don’t call in sick, and learn the menu. Turns out all I needed to do was what was expected of me and do it just a little better than the others working there. A few months later, I was promoted to shift manager. I got a dollar an hour raise and 50% more hours. Some of the other employees were upset because they had worked there longer and “deserved it.” My boss told them because they had worked there longer, they should have had been faster at the job than me — and they weren’t. I’m not kidding, it was that simple.

My next job was as a host/busboy at the nicest restaurant in town. When I applied, I told the owner I wanted to be a food server as soon as possible because they made more in tips. As a busboy/host, I only got a share of the tips. At the time, I was the youngest person working there. When I had finished all my responsibilities, I asked the servers what I could help them with. I made it easier for them to do their jobs, and they loved me for it. Not only did this help me in getting to learn many of the servers responsibilities, it also gave me a great reputation when the owner asked the others about me. To me, it made no sense not to help others when I had nothing to do. The other busboys didn’t see it that way. They frequently replied it was not their job to help the servers. They didn’t like being bossed around. I figured, if I’m offering to help them, they can’t be bossing me. Turned out to be a great move. The owner saw how helpful I was and my aptitude to learn new things. She began testing me on different recipes, etiquette, and protocol regarding the restaurant. Think it might have helped to have all the servers love me and give me the answers? It sure did.

I was soon promoted to server before the other busboys who had worked there longer than me — and you guessed it, the others weren’t too happy. I noticed the same “but I’ve worked here longer so I deserve it” mentality I had experienced at Togo’s. The owner didn’t care. To her, she wanted to know who was going to help her business the most. Seniority meant nothing. As a side effect, the other busboys started working a lot harder, following my lead. Eventually, each of them was promoted as well. I noticed that my work ethic had rubbed off on others and made the restaurant an overall better place. That felt good to see.

I repeated this process at the next restaurant I worked at and was offered the opportunity to manage it even though I was the youngest employee there. I quickly learned that if I figured out what my boss wanted and did it better than the others, my boss would look for ways to give me a bigger responsibility. This only made sense for the boss, as the better job I did, the easier their job became. When I became a police officer, the same rule applied. The better job I did, the more special assignments, promotions, and responsibility I was given. A big side effect of this was more pay.

That’s the goal, right? Why we all go to work? It’s to make money. Why wouldn’t you want to make more of it if you could?

What I’m realizing now is not everybody understands this concept the way I learned to. Some of you may have never seen how hard work does pay off and actually makes your life better. What’s more, we are living in a time now when nobody really wants to work hard or even believe they need to. That creates so much more opportunity for those who will! I promise you, there is so much more money and opportunity being left on the table than what you have been trained to believe. The trick is, you can’t see it if you’re only thinking about your needs. You need to start thinking about how to meet the needs of others.

If you want to start investing in real estate, it helps to have something to invest. If you want money to invest, it helps to make more of it. I’d like to shares some tips on how to do just that. This may seem simple, but I can promise you the effects will be anything but. This is a law of nature. Like gravity. If you follow it, you will make more money. No doubt about it.

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Tips for Earning More Money to Invest

First things first, ask your boss what you can do to make their job easier. I know this is a novel concept, but you aren’t the only person in the world, and your concerns aren’t the only ones that matter. Everyone else in the world is just like you, and if you do unto others how you would want done, good things tend to happen.

Once you start doing things to make your boss look good, they are apt to like you more. Trust me, you want this. At this point, you should ask them what you can do to make more money. I got promoted at Togo’s, made server at the restaurant, and was offered a management position at another one, all because I asked what I could do to make more money. That was it. Because my boss already liked me, they gave me opportunities to make more. This can work for you, too.

Related: The Surprisingly Simple “Secret” to Financial Freedom Most 9 to 5-ers Overlook

Once you start making more money than you were before, ask yourself if you are really pushing yourself at this job. If you are a genius mechanic and could learn to work at a fancy European shop where you get paid top dollar, but you’re in a comfort zone working part time in someone’s garage, maybe it’s time you started pushing yourself some. Small amounts of money become big amounts of money over time. As a general rule, you should always be pushing yourself to the max of your abilities. Once you master a new job and it’s not hard anymore, start looking for where you can move to in order to make more. Money is the name of the game when it comes to why you go to work every day. It’s also pretty important if you want to get into this real estate investing thing.

Understand that you are being given money by someone else because you are performing a service for them. Perform it better! Look for ways to make your boss more money. Increase sales, book more clients, save them money where it’s being wasted, bring up new ideas to make things more efficient, share this with them. They own the business for the purpose of making money. If you show them you give a crap about their goals, they just might be inclined to give a crap about yours, and that’s what you want, right?

If you’re in a dead end job and feel you have no room to move up or make more money, that’s not a reason to ignore this article. It’s a reason to get a new job! If you’re willing to learn new things, be reliable, and work hard, have confidence there are a ton of people out there who want to hire you. Remember, a lot of Americans just don’t want to serve anyone but themselves and don’t like to be uncomfortable. This makes you a valuable asset. Carry yourself like one and don’t stop until you find a job with room to grow.

“But You Don’t Understand — My Job Sucks”

If you’re genuinely stuck and can’t think of any other way to make more money, look at someone else who is and start asking them questions about what they do. Ask questions about how they got started, what it took, what qualifications they needed, and what entry level positions are available in their company. Most people know what they wish they had done differently and will subconsciously want to help you avoid those mistakes if they see a part of themselves in you. I don’t know why this is the way it is, but it is.

Which brings me to my next tip. Make people like you. This is pretty important. We are all inclined to help people we like, even if we know we are supposed to be fair. It’s just harder to do it for people we don’t like. Ever wonder why some people just seem to have so many opportunities fall in their lap? It’s not all dumb luck. Most of those people are very likable. How do you make people like you? Well, for one, ask them about themselves. Make them the focus of each conversation. Ignore your inner narcissist that loves to be fed and feed theirs instead. It makes people feel good to talk about themselves. They will remember you made them feel good. They will probably have zero idea why; they will just know they like you. That’s what you want! Compliment people in a genuine way. Do it about things they don’t expect. Point out things you admire about them that others may not be likely to reference. Mention you like how they dress, how they carry themselves, how classy they are. Make people feel good and they’ll like you, they will. Just make absolutely sure you’re genuine.

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A great resource for how to accomplish this is the book How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is the bible for how to make people like you. It’s also more likely to make you a better person, a cool little side effect.

Stop asking, “What is my job here?” and start asking, “What is our goal here?” Your primary concern shouldn’t be just doing the minimum amount of work you need to do in order to not get fired. It should be looking at the big picture of the company’s goals and asking how you can help them get there faster/better/more efficiently.

Help people with their tasks, even if you don’t get the credit. This works in multiple ways. In addition to making them like you more, you get the added benefit of learning something new for free. This helps you in many ways, including increasing your confidence, increasing your skill set, and exposing you to new things you might decide you’d be better at than what you’re currently doing. Never underestimate the value of knowledge. Learning can be more profitable than being paid. In summary, your goal should be to be the most popular person at your workplace and to be the most invaluable employee there. Break free of the entitlement mindset that says you deserve something simply because you’ve worked there the longest. Break free of the mindset that says your job should serve your emotional needs to have a fulfilling life. It shouldn’t. You should be serving it.

The faster you accept this, the faster you’ll see your attitude towards work start to change and the easier it will be to come with a servant approach instead of an entitled approach. In addition to making it more pleasant and rewarding to be at work, you’ll also start to see how it’s much more profitable. This, dear friends, is the first step towards saving more for investing, and that’s exciting stuff.

You have a lot to offer. Start showing that! Odds are you aren’t working to your full potential now. Don’t settle for anything less than that. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, follow the tips in this article, and let me know what kind of an effect this has on your financial life! Entitlement is a disease. What I’m sharing here is the cure that will help you overcome it.  I’d love to see more in the comments section about success stories at work and how they led to making more money for investing in real estate!

How do you go above and beyond in order to create your own success?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

David Greene

David is a real estate investor/agent/author/entrepreneur/police officer in the CA SF Bay Area. David's goal is to achieve total financial independence through real estate and to help as many others do so as possible. When not hunting bad guys, he hunts deals and loves talking real estate. To learn more about David, visit his website where you can also sign into his free investor's newsletter and follow along as he walks you through his deals and shares his latest projects.

32 Comments

  1. Colin E Stevenson

    Remember that line from dumb and dumber, where they said there are no jobs out there….unless you wanna work 40 hours a week!?

    It’s really gotten that bad. There’s opportunity out there in my industry, but younger people come and go all the time. Seems they are content with living at their parents, and making enough money for beer and video games that they don’t want full time jobs. And these are good paying entry level positions! It took me ten years in the workforce to make the kind of money they are starting at. Boggles the mind.

    But, I guess that makes it easier for those of us who are trying to become more valuable to do so!

    • David Greene

      Great line from a great movie. And I love your positive spin on how those who don’t want to work just make it easier for those who do! It’s a very encouraging thought that is much better than dwelling on the frustration with the millennial mindset.

  2. Paul MacInnis

    Great stuff!!! I really like the idea of making people like you by NOT talking about yourself…..it’s hugely important….your article reminded me of a lot of great ideas! See what I did There – talking about you!!??? But seriously, I’ve found people happy to bring deals my way because they enjoy chatting and know I’m willing to take action and help them!!

  3. David.

    Great article!

    I once heard from a friend that you have to be the best on your job, and focus on the goal of the company not like people not willing to get outside their comfort zone.

    I did that and I who’s promoted many times to the point where I can choose the hours & place I want to work but I provide a very big service to my company, my boss need not to worry about nothing he and everyone else know I will not sleep/eat/rest till the job it’s done.

    You have to be ready to think & act outside the box otherwise your job will be given to some one else.

    I’m 48 years old and I’m not afraid from the other young coworkers bcs so far I’m the only one thinking & acting that way.

    Tnx

  4. Syed Hussain

    Awesome post. I experienced the same effect when I used to work at Starbucks during high school and now when I work as an eye doctor. The formula is very simple like you said: find out what the company wants and do it better than everyone else. Most companies are full of lazy people, so there should be plenty of opportunity. Just starting to save up for real estate so I’m looking for even more ways to supercharge my income.

  5. Peter Mckernan

    Hey David,

    Great article! I work as a firefighter down in Southern California, and I work hard to take the most recent promotional exams for that very reason! I want to make sure that I can have more money to put into IRA, 401K, or into real estate. I try to spread my investments out; however, the more I get at one profession, the more I can add to my future income!

    Keep up the great articles!

  6. Eric H.

    Simple but not easy. But those things in life that are the most satisfying tend to be our biggest challenges. I’m going through it right now at my W2 job and it sucks because it trickles down from the top. What do you do when the goals aren’t clearly defined? Upper management’s goals are different than middle management’s goals and on down the line. Please help. Thanks for this article!!

  7. Chad Hale

    Hi David,

    You nailed! It really is not that hard to succeed in this world. Just have to work a little hard than the average person. Not very hard.

    My goal/mantra has always been to make my boss’s job easy, to remove worry and frustration where ever I am able. If I am given a task, they know it will be done well, completely and on time every time.

    Thanks for sharing a great secret to success!

    Chad

  8. Rapy Narruhn

    Another great article David! I’ve been talking about this to the older people I work with and they all agree. They say that the millennials’ biggest problems are ….

    1) The sense of entitlement without putting in the hard work.

    2) Believing that the grass is always greener on the other side. In other words, not being grateful.

    Thanks for sharing! Nothing but great knowledge!!

  9. jiohioomadi ala waleedi on

    RE is very hard. Then again it doesnt have to be so hard…………..lol. One just has to realize that the part timer dibbler dabbler RE investor isnt going to get 30% discounts. Be happy with 1% properties in good areas. You will not lose money and in time will build wealth. Many times these types you get appreciation too.

  10. Laura Sulak

    Great article! I’m a Gen-Xer, and unfortunately we were also raised to believe our ‘feelings’ should come first. Where do you think all of those Millennials came from? 🙂

    Your article is a great reminder that the best way to benefit ourselves is to ADD VALUE for someone else. Isn’t that along the lines of what the great Zig Ziglar always said?

    I love the information about getting people to like you. Like I tell my kids: Ask other people about themselves and they will think you are the most interesting person they talked to that day.

    Thanks, David, for the great reminder for people of all ages. My W2 job can be a little frustrating, so I needed to hear this message today. Your articles always contain useful, actionable information, and I really enjoyed your podcast.

  11. Eric Zdanowski

    Wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments in this article.

    The line “Help people with their tasks, even if you don’t get the credit.” reminded me a lot of the Canvas Strategy.

    Tim Ferris just did a podcast about it with Ryan Holiday. Basically the idea of helping to clear the path to other people’s success, or as he puts it, “find and make canvases for other people to paint on”. Like you did with your former employers, you went above and beyond to make their jobs easier which ultimately gave you a unique power position. You end up helping yourself by helping others. Just gotta learn to let the ego take a backseat.

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