Are You Earning Too Little?

Underearners can overcome their low incomes by making some big life changes.

Pay stub

To overcome her own under-earning trap, Stanny started raising her speaking fees. It made her uncomfortable, and for the first three months, she got few takers, but eventually, she started booking gigs at her higher rate. "I knew I deserved to earn more for no other reason than I'm worth it," Stanny says. Cultivating that sense of self-worth is crucial for overcoming underearning.

[See: 10 Saving Strategies That Can Backfire.]

But the path to prosperity doesn't stop with a bigger paycheck, Stanny warns. People who learn to earn more don't necessarily know how to manage their money well, she adds. "When people's earnings go up, their spending goes up," she says. Figuring out how to build wealth by reining in spending and managing savings and investment accounts is the next challenge.