Personal Finance

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Paycheck

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 5 minute read

Canceling cable, foregoing my morning cappuccino, and using coupons are just a few of the small sacrifices that come to me when I try to stretch my paycheck. 

While it’s true that even the smallest of sacrifices can have a significant impact over time, there are other ways to stretch a paycheck that don’t require making sacrifices in the broader picture. 

That’s right, you may keep the cable and not incur any further costs. Check out these 9 creative ideas to make your dollar go further than you might think possible on a regular income.

How to Extend the Life of Your Paycheck

1. Boost Your Withholding Permits

A large annual tax refund may seem like a perk, but in reality, you’re letting the government spend your money without charging them interest until they return it to you after you file. You probably could have used that cash instead. You could have saved it or, even better, put it to work for you by investing it.

You may be having too much money withheld from your salary if you receive a large return at the end of the year. Your federal income tax withholdings can be corrected by submitting a revised W-4 form to your employer. 

For assistance, you can consult your company’s HR department or the IRS withholding calculator. However, it’s important to not abuse the system by claiming too many exemptions, lest you end up with a hefty tax bill to pay to the IRS.

2. Request a Raise

In fact, asking for a raise may be the only way to get one if you believe you deserve one. If you want something, you should argue for it before you ask for it. 

Check out PayScale.com to see what others in your field are making, come prepared to discuss your successes and future aspirations with the employer, and research what others are paying for similar positions. 

A well-prepared worker has a much better chance of receiving a salary increase than one who simply asks for one.

3. Keep Your Salary

Keeping a savings account for unexpected expenses and a retirement fund never damaged anyone. If your current income is sufficient to pay your expenses, any extra money you receive from a raise should be deposited into savings, retirement, or 529 education savings account. 

Maybe you’re thinking about taking a major trip next summer; if so, start putting money away now so you won’t be tempted to overuse plastic then.

If you invest for the long haul, your raise can actually increase your wealth by earning interest and growing in value. Investing in a diversified portfolio, if you’re able to, is a great way to get more out of your income.

4. Set a budget

Setting a financial plan may seem like a lot of extra work. But if you develop a budget for each paycheck or month, you can easily track your spending and make necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. One of the best ways to stretch your dollar is to try something new.

I can’t afford the $80 a month it costs me at my local coffee shop to get my daily latte, but I truly need it. I know, right? By keeping track of how much money I was spending on lattes, I was able to see that investing in a good home espresso machine for roughly $80 would save me a lot of money in the long run. 

I’ve become an expert barista and save money every day on lattes. Using a free service like Mint.com, you can learn about budgeting and create a budget in just a few minutes.

5. Pick Up a Side Job

When I was young, my father had a second job at the neighborhood bowling alley. He stopped working in the alley when he earned enough money at his regular job to provide for his family on his own. But until then, he did whatever it took to get by.

If your current income is insufficient, you may want to consider getting a second part-time work. You might be able to locate what you’re looking for in a nearby establishment like a hardware store, cafe, or supermarket. 

There are a plethora of legal work-from-home opportunities available today. A small increase in weekly hours worked for pay might have a significant impact on one’s financial situation.

6. Raising Insurance Deductibles

What are your deductible amounts for various forms of insurance? Can you tell? A greater monthly premium could be paid in exchange for a lower deductible in the event of an insurance claim. 

More simply put, a greater deductible results in a lower monthly premium. My auto insurance deductible is the maximum allowed by law in my state (now $500; in California it was $1,000). My premiums went down and I already had the deductible saved up, so it made financial sense.

Ask your insurance company about raising your deductibles tomorrow if you want to stretch your salary further. However, in the event of an accident or unexpected medical issue, it is crucial to have access to the deductible amount.

7. Use only cash to make purchases.

If you don’t use your credit cards responsibly, it’s simple to run up large debts you can’t pay off. Having tried it on my own, I can attest to its success. There is no immediate charge to your credit card or debit from your bank account; the bill will not arrive for a full month. 

The reality, however, is that these things often have high-interest rates and, if left unpaid, can lead to substantial sums, despite the fact that they may initially look almost free. 

Make your purchases with physical money or a debit card tied to your bank account so you can truly feel the effects of your spending. If you have a large credit card load and have to pay a large interest payment each month, your money won’t go very far.

8. Mortgage Refinancing

The current interest rate is among the lowest ever recorded. What steps have you taken to make use of it? You can save a lot of money in the short and long run by refinancing your mortgage

This is because you will pay less each month and will spend less overall. Current rates, monthly savings estimates, and refinancing advice can all be obtained by visiting BankRate.com or chatting with a local banker or institutional lender.

9. Organize a Home Garden

Don’t we all just adore a good garden salad? But why spend $10 on one when you can grow all the ingredients right in your own backyard? You can grow your own lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots for only a few dollars worth of seeds. 

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be particularly green-thumb-y, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to get a home vegetable garden up and running. If you want to cultivate organic, non-GMO food for your family, I recommend checking out Seeds of Change and Botanical Interests.

Bottom Line

Here are my nine suggestions for stretching your hard-earned cash further. Each of these simple suggestions has the potential to increase your monthly budget’s flexibility.

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