7 Steps to Protect and Grow Income

Personal finance can cover a broad range of topics, including saving, investing, debt management, and career.   I definitely discuss them all here, along with other money-related topics.

Having said that, the thought came to mind that it’s good to sometimes ground ourselves in what’s important, how the process works, and in what order things occur.  This got me thinking about how the category of income generation – be it from career, business, etc – is a foundation to our overall financial success.

Think about it, working backwards: before we can invest anything, we need money to invest.  This is possible if we have savings.  If we have savings, it means that we needed to have income exceeding our expenses. In order for that to happen, we needed to be making money in the first place!

Thus, as the foundation of our finances, we need to be earning money and generating income.  Now, people that sponge off others or let others take care of them might not be attuned to this part, but doesn’t it make sense? We need income before we can save anything, and then in turn invest.  Income is the engine that drives our finances.

Along those lines, I came up with the following 7 steps to protect and grow income:

  1. Get a good education.  Enough of the notion that education is optional, or not important anymore. That’s crazy.  Some people question whether it’s best to choose college or entrepreneurship, but I say that education is foundation for success and that many folks are looking for shortcuts.
  2. Continuously learn.  It’s not enough to get a degree or even advanced degree(s) and say that we are done. Rather, we need to keep learning every day, and embrace the idea that every day brings new experiences and new knowledge to acquire.
  3. Protect your career.  Make sure you don’t take your job for granted.  Work to over-deliver and make yourself indispensible.
  4. Grow your career.  Your career is probably what brings in the flow of money. If we want to increase cash flow, we need to go beyond protecting our job.  Rather, we need to look for ways to become really good at what it is we do, get attuned to how things really work in business (or whatever field you’re in), and be savvy networkers.
  5. Invest in health.  If you’re not healthy, you either won’t be able to work or your ability to successfully do so will be compromised.  This happens as people get older, but many younger people simply don’t think of this or brush it off as a “someday” kind of event.  Someday probably comes quicker than we realize if we don’t pay attention, so it’s important to be healthy and ideally energetic too.  Even proper sleep and money can be related!
  6. Be insured.  What if you can’t work, and can’t make money? Depending on what the issue is, insurance might be a financial life saver.  You may want to spend the proper time focusing on protecting against losses – with disability insurance as a good example.
  7. Think entrepreneurially.  At some point, it’s important to remember that we are all essentially unofficial “business entities” of our own, even if individual employees.  We sell our professional services for wages.  We are the product. We need to be able to keep that mindset and thrive as people, rather than purely thinking of ourselves as simply employees.  Money can be made through different business structures with you playing different roles, be it employee or owner.  Being flexible, adaptable, and ready to operate in different environments is important.

My Questions for You

Do you agree that income generation and cash flow are the foundation of personal finance success?

What are your thoughts on the list? Do you follow all of these?

Do you have any additional tips or thoughts to add, on protecting and growing income? I’m interested in what you have to say, and what you can share with readers.


  1. says

    My additional thought is similar to (or maybe the same as) your #7, but I’d describe it as always be open to opportunity. I think sometimes we pigeon-hole ourselves, and don’t think outside the box with respect to how we can apply our skills and talents in new and potentially rewarding ways.

    Also, under Grow Your Career: What every boss and business owner want most are people who make their own job easier and help them succeed. Aim to do that, and you’ll find yourself highly valued.

    • Squirrelers says

      Kurt – that’s a great point about pigeonholing ourselves, and how people do it to themselves all the time. Sometimes it’s because that’s what is expected of us in certain environments, or with people who only know us in one job or capacity. The reality is that many of us have skills that could be transferrable, but we have to sell ourselves as a part of getting other opportunities.

  2. says

    For most, their career is the main source of income. I have neglected this area when it comes to advancing my knowledge. I will probably never follow through and finish my Masters unless someone else pays for it. Great tips here!

    • Squirrelers says

      John – ah, but if somebody does pay for it, it might be an even better deal. I know a few folks that have done that, getting top-notch part-time/executive MBAs while getting it paid for by their employer.

  3. says

    These are great tips. I love your tip #1 and share it with every young person I know. Education is truly the foundation for career success and will open many doors.

    • Squirrelers says

      Eric – I truly believe education is very valuable and not to be dismissed as “optional”. Perhaps it depends on what was drilled into people’s heads when younger, in terms of the importance of education.

  4. says

    I also agree that the situation regarding education is getting ridiculous. Sure, experience can be the best teacher, but education speeds up the process and lays the groundwork for experience. Plus, having a degree from a state school, or starting at a community college before moving to a full-fledged university will significantly reduce the cost of many educational programs.

    The health issue is also something I’m tired of hearing about. People saying that you have to put in more time and energy to be successful are nuts. I’m sure they’ve never heard of the phrase “work smarter not harder”. If you use the tools at your disposal to their optimal levels, and focus on improving processes, it should require less effort to produce the same (or better) results.

    • Squirrelers says

      Eric – yes, working smarter is a great idea, as long as people have the skills and know how to do so! Not sure everyone can do that. However, for those who can, it’s an open door to a more balanced and successful life, one would think.

  5. Ashley Thomas says

    There is one thing we should not forget to invest in, talent. Even with a good career that earns you big money, there is still a chance that you might be laid of the job, and therefore it is important to look for other means to backup your career so that in the event that the job is terminated you won’t get stuck. Talent is a very good alternative. If you are good at singing, soccer or any other activity, you may be surprised that it may even earn you more money than what you have trained for.

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