With so many employers struggling to get past the ill effects of the recession, quite a few people will go without any type of pay increase this year. With no raise forthcoming from your employer, it’s up to you to create some type of increase in your disposable income. Fortunately, there are several ways to go about giving yourself a raise, and enjoy the benefit of a few extra dollars in your pocket.
Adjust your withholding. Many people pay more in taxes than they actually owe. While you do want to always make sure you are paying your fair share, there is nothing that says you have to be overly generous with the withholding. If you consistently get large tax returns each year, making small changes in your withholding will allow you to enjoy the money now rather than later, and still prevent you from owing anything when you file your annual return.
Use a list when you shop for groceries. You’d be surprised how much of your income is consumed by impulse buying, especially at the supermarket. Before heading to the grocer, throw open the doors of the pantry, and take an inventory of what is on hand, and then add items to the list that will work with what you already have. Once in the store, stick to your list, no matter what. Some people can realize up to three figures in savings over the course of a month, effectively creating a nice tidy increase in the amount of money they can use for more essential purchases.
Watch your utility usage. Next to food, utilities are one of the key areas where households waste money. Adjust the setting on the water heater slightly, allowing you to enjoy hot water for showers, but not water that is hot enough to cook a lobster. Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load of dirty dishes. Turn your computer off at night, instead of letting it hibernate. Small changes in how you use your utilities can add up to a significant amount over the course of a year.
Downgrade your cable package, or do away with it altogether. To test how much you actually watch cable television, keep a logo of your viewing activity for a week or so. Make a note of when you watch all channels, both cable and broadcast. Record the specific channel as well as how long you watch. You may find that you are actually watching channels you could receive using an antenna. If that is the case, dump the cable and eliminate that monthly bill altogether. If the cable channels you do watch are included in a package that costs less, then switch to the lower priced package and save a few dollars each month.
Reduce your gasoline usage by planning errands more efficiently. Instead of racing all over town, plan a route that takes you to each place you need to go, but without constantly zipping back and forth. You’ll not only save money on gas, but also free up more of your time to do something that you really want to do.
Tips and Warnings
Actively look for other ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenses. At the same time, find new activities that help you enjoy life without those expenses. This will help you to feel less deprived, and more in control of your life and finances.