Boss: You're still here? It's almost 7:30!
Employee: I know, don't worry... I just want to get ahead because I have so much extra work to do this week.
Boss: Wow, you're a hard worker! But please take care of yourself, and don't work overtime this week, ok?
Employee: Thank you, I got it. And I will feel much better when I don't have this work on my desk tomorrow!
Tim: I'm getting another job to pay off my credit cards faster.
June: I hear you! I'm thinking about getting a part-time job to make some extra money. I really want to build up my savings.
Tim: Sounds good~ Just don't spend your extra income!
June: Exactly! We have to be careful with our money to really get ahead!
Meaning: to become successful, to push yourself into an advantageous position
In Example 1, the employee feels behind in his/her work, so he/she wants to work late in order "to get ahead" and that means less work tomorrow.
In Example 2, Tim wants to pay off his debt and June wants to save money. Both of them want "to get ahead" and succeed with their finances.
Usage notes: We can use "get ahead" in various verb tenses by modifying the form of "get."
Ex. I am getting ahead with my new job. present progressive
Ex. I got ahead last year when I saved lots of money. past simple
Ex. I've gotten ahead many times in my life simply by working hard. present perfect
Ex. I will get ahead with my new business plan. future simple
The idiom "to get ahead" was taken from Unit 7 (Making it Work) in LSI's textbook Reading Transitions for Level 4 Reading/Vocabulary classes.