Talk about fill ’er up: A Texas gas station and convenience store chain, Buc-ee’s, received tons of attention recently after a post stating employees could earn up to $225,000 per year. The company also boasted a 401(k) match of up to 6%, along with three weeks paid vacation, health care and an additional $2 per hour for overnight services.
That kind of compensation package moved one person to Tweet, in essence, that going to college and racking up a mountain of debt was a poor investment by comparison.
The average cost for a college education in the U.S. runs just shy of $36,000, according to the Education Data Initiative. While this includes items like tuition and books, it excludes living expenses (think groceries and eating out) that a part-time job may barely offset.
In terms of compensation, Buc-ee’s certainly qualifies as an outlier. The average full-time salary in 2022 came in at $54,132 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it’s a big country, and what you get paid — even in the same industry and at the same position — will vary widely based on factors such as where you live and the company’s resources.
ZipRecruiter data shows that the average salary for a car wash manager sits far below six figures at about $45,000. Even a general manager only makes about $60,000 in most states. But before you pull up stakes and move close to a Buc-ee’s, consider the ways you can get more mileage, if you will, from your current job.
Health savings account
Health care costs represent some of the biggest expenses that could come your way. If you work part-time, are enrolled as a student, or lack great insurance, establishing a health savings account (HSA) should be a top priority.
This tax-free savings account not only helps you manage health care costs in the short term, but also contributes to reaching long-term goals as well. If you’re registered for an insurance program, the HSA can cover and shortfalls.
Whatever you invest in your HSA comes off your deductible income, as with other tax-free programs. Then any withdrawals for medical needs are tax free, as are all withdrawals after you turn 65.
The riches of a Roth IRA
Like the HSA, the Roth individual retirement account (IRA) allows you to leverage tax advantages. You can withdraw your cash tax-free any time after age 59 and a half.
The key to the Roth IRA, or any retirement account, is to start investing as early as possible, as the magic of compound interest grows the investment. Your annual contribution limit is $6,000, unless you’re over 50 (in which case it’s $7,000).
As you reinvest your returns, dividends and interest, your funds will multiply rather than merely add up. Retirement calculators like this one can help you determine how much you’ll get based on factors like annual contribution, length of time investing and anticipated annual percentage growth.
Read more: Even a stock market idiot can earn cash with these investing tips, so stop losing your money to inflation
Do the side hustle
If you’re thinking long term, you may also wonder about how to increase your income right now. That’s where for many, the side hustle comes in; driving for ride-hailing companies or selling merchandise online rank among the most popular. But let’s be clear: There’s the side hustle, and then there’s a part-time job — and the two are not the same.
If a side hustle prevents you from performing your full-time job at peak performance, that’s in reality a part-time job. And if the full-time job provides you with insurance, benefits and more, risking its loss because of a side hustle isn’t worth it.
The key is to find easy ways to create cash and if it involves passive income, so much the better. Indeed, the best types are often the laziest options. Can you rent out something, like a prime parking space? Working with that, a storage unit in your apartment, or even a shed out back could net you hundreds of dollars a month.
On the creative side, there’s nothing like turning a passion into cash. That might involve editing work, creative writing for blogs, or starting a podcast and finding sponsors: It’s the same amount of work to create a podcast for one paid sponsor as it is for three.
Etsy is a wonderful platform for marketing crafts online and Bandcamp allows you to sell music downloads you may already have recorded. As in arts, generating income from it demands some creativity as well. Turning anything you love making into earnings is a smart way to pocket cash without jeopardizing your day job.
No matter which routes you pursue, you can also leave open the option of switching jobs, a viable one give the record low unemployment in the U.S. A higher salary, better retirement benefits: It could just feel like a full-time job and a side hustle all in one, the financial equivalent of filling your tank with premium.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.