Your earning potential doesn’t increase on its own, at least not at the rate in which you’d want it to increase. If you want to up your earning potential, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. And while there are dozens of ways to make more money, not all of them are created equal. Some will take more time and energy; others will need hefty startup costs. Here are four simple ways to get a much-needed increase in your earning potential this new year:

Choose a Flexible Degree

What you major in is going to have a huge impact on your career and what you will earn in the long run. While some industries don’t require a specific degree, the more lucrative careers tend to want a focused path of study. When choosing your course of study, consider what you like to do and what options work with those interests when it comes to fields of study. Look for a high-paying degree that offers a variety of skills. Degrees in accounting or business management fill a variety of positions within almost every business organization, which means you have a lot of job opportunities and growth within those jobs.

Regularly Reassess Employment Options

If you’re a full-time employee at a company, the job security could lull you into stagnation. A lot of people stop looking for new and potentially better work when they’re employed. After all, with all the job responsibilities that lands on your desk every day, who has time to look for more work? Taking at least an hour every week to look at job postings online can give you an idea of how much you’re worth to employers. Perhaps there’s a company in the same city that’s offering $5,000 more in annual salary than what you’re currently getting paid for. Just be careful to not go overboard with your job search. You want to be loyal to the job that you have.

Use Your Savings to Generate Passive Income

Parking your savings in a savings account that pays a measly 1.4 percent in annual yield doesn’t sound like a smart way to grow your savings or retirement nest. Instead, use your savings to invest in financial assets that yield capital gains and dividend yields at a higher and faster rate. Stocks, bonds, and currencies are all good assets to include in your portfolio. Open an online brokerage account and deposit money to start building your portfolio. Use sound principles that generate long-term gains, such as value investing and dollar cost averaging.

Use Your Time Wisely

As one of the oldest adages go – time is money. Every hour you spend binge-watching on Netflix or hanging out with friends is time not spent making money. Manage your time so that every waking hour is spent on activities that could potentially increase your earning potential. Whether you use your spare time to build a blog site or a social media page that you can, later on, monetize or work as a part-time freelancer, make sure your time is spent wisely. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Increasing your earning potential does mean that you have to take a break every once in a while. No one can work 24/7, but you also shouldn’t spend all your spare time playing around.

Final Thoughts

Of course, there’s the traditional way of increasing your earning potential by asking for a raise or promotion. It sounds like a scary (or uncomfortable) undertaking to sit down with your boss and ask for more money, but it’s something you should start doing with your current and future employers. If done appropriately, asking for more can help you get far ahead of where you started.