Does it seem like your hard-earned paycheck isn’t stretching as far as it should be? Fortunately, there are a few changes you can make in how you earn and spend your money that can help you keep more of your paycheck in your pocket. From decreasing the deductions taken out of your check to making small life changes to spend less and save more, we’re rounding up the best ways to hold on to more of your cash.
Click through for tips and tricks to make your money stretch, such as utilizing tech services offered by your bank.
1. Adjust W-4 Exemptions
If you’re getting a sizable tax refund, you’re actually missing out on money you could be getting paid upfront.
“The best way to boost your take-home pay is to adjust your taxes,” said Debbi King, personal finance expert, life coach and owner of The ABC’s of Personal Finance. “Most of us are getting big refunds every year because we are having too much taken out each payday.”
2. Freeze Your Gym Membership
Investing in your health should be a priority, but if you need to boost your take-home earnings, consider freezing your gym membership. There are plenty of workouts you can do for free, such as hiking, running or biking, or following along with a YouTube workout.
Use the cash you would be spending on your membership to help you reach your financial goals, and unfreeze your membership when you get back on better financial footing.
3. Change Your Healthcare Plan
Along with taxes and retirement fund deductions, healthcare costs are usually deducted directly from your paycheck. To lower your deductions, consider if you are actually using all the healthcare you have paid for, and change your plan to one with a lower cost if possible. Be cautious when making adjustments though, as cheaper plans often mean higher deductibles.
4. Utilize Your Bank’s Tech Services
To help protect yourself against unauthorized charges, take advantage of your bank’s card controls, if available. For example, Regions LockIt offers four different options via the Regions Mobile app that allow cardholders to control their Regions check, credit and Now prepaid cards. Let’s say you misplace or lose your card — you can just select the option to prevent the card from being used to make purchases in stores or online, even before you report the problem.
5. Ask to Be Reimbursed for Work-Related Expenses
You shouldn’t have to pay for work-related travel or client meals out of your own paycheck. If you find these expenses are eating away at your earnings, verify your company’s policies on work-related expenses and consider asking your employer to reimburse you. Or, request a business credit card that your employer can pay directly.
6. Take Advantage of Office Perks
Many offices now provide their employees with perks to attract and retain their workforce. If your office has an on-site gym, or provides you with free snacks or meals, take advantage of these benefits. You can save a lot by quitting your gym and spending less on outside food purchases.
7. Differentiate Between Needs and Wants
You might really want a new TV or a trendy pair of shoes, but unless your TV is broken or all of your shoes are worn out, these purchases qualify as “wants” rather than “needs.” Focus on spending money on needs only, and keep the money you would spend on wants in your pocket (or savings account).
8. Decrease Fixed Expenses
There are certain expenses you have to pay every month, such as rent, utilities, cable bills, cell phone bills and car payments. While you will have to dedicate some of your paycheck to these expenses no matter what, there are ways to decrease the amount you pay.
To lower the amount you spend on rent, utilities and cable, consider getting a roommate. If your cellphone bill seems astronomical, consider changing phone plans or shop around for a new provider. And while car payments are usually fixed, you might be able to save on your car insurance by shopping around for a new insurer.
9. Put a Percentage of Your Paycheck Into Savings Each Month
It can be easy to spend your whole paycheck each month if you cash it out right away or put it into a checking account. To make sure you end up saving some of your paycheck, transfer a fixed percentage of your paycheck into your savings account each pay period. Whether it’s 5 percent or 20 percent, the savings will add up over time.
10. Track Your Spending
Consider using a budgeting app to see exactly what you’re spending your paycheck on. If you see that you’re spending a lot of your earnings on unnecessary things like subscription services you no longer use or a daily coffee from the store, consider scaling back on these expenses.
11. Avoid Unnecessary Bank Fees
You could be spending more than you’d like on easily avoidable bank fees. Many banks charge fees for using an out-of-network ATM, so only make withdrawals at your own bank, or take advantage of the cash-back option when making in-store purchases. Your bank could also charge a fee if you don’t keep a minimum balance in your account, so make sure you know the criteria for fee waivers.
12. Allow Yourself to Splurge, but Keep It to a Minimum
Although you can save big by not buying a daily latte — averaging $3.65, you would save $1,332.25 a year — you shouldn’t completely deprive yourself if it’s something you really love. If coffee is your financial Achilles’ heel, consider buying your beloved caffeinated drink once or twice a month rather than every day. If you love buying new shoes every month, limit yourself to one pair a season.
Yes, it’s important to save, but you should also be able to enjoy your hard-earned money from time to time — latte included.
13. Join a Carpool
Commuting to work can cost you a considerable chunk of your paycheck. Carpooling with friends or co-workers is an easy way to save money. According to Paycheck Advance, carpooling can save you $200 on gas bills. Plus, if you’re able to take advantage of HOV lanes, you’ll save time on your commute as well.
Learn More: Traffic Troubles and the True Cost of Congestion
14. Have a Savings Goal
It’s easier to prioritize saving over spending if you have a goal in mind. Whether you are saving up for a large purchase such as a car or house, or you want to make sure you have a healthy emergency fund ready in case of job loss or other unforeseen events, having an end goal will make you work toward it.
15. Use Coupons and Online Promo Codes
You don’t have to clip physical coupons anymore to save while you shop. Use online coupon sites to find coupons and promo codes for many of your favorite retailers. And if you online shop, try to make purchases from retailers that offer free shipping year-round. The money you save on shipping fees means more money in your pocket.
16. Shop With a Credit Card That Offers Cash Back
Whether you’re spending on “needs” or “wants,” make your purchases with a credit card that lets you get money back, and ultimately spend less of your paycheck than you would with a regular credit card. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these credit cards often come with higher APRs, so only use one if you are able to pay your balance in full.
17. Buy Generic Products When Possible
Generic brands often cost significantly less than name-brand products, and for certain items the generic is just as good. The best things to buy generic include cereal, spices and seasonings, diapers and medications, so consider switching from making name-brand purchases in those categories to a generic option if you want to hold on to more of your paycheck.
18. Turn Down Your Air Conditioner
Cranking up the A/C can mean a large electricity bill during the summer months. Consider raising the temperature in your home a few degrees for significant savings, so you can put that money to better use. You can save 3 to 5 percent on air conditioning costs for every degree you raise the thermostat, according to Pacific Power.
19. Pack Your Own Lunch
Buying lunch every day can quickly deplete your paycheck. If you spend $10 a day on lunch during the workweek, that adds up to $200 a month. While it’s okay to treat yourself to a lunch out every once a while, aim to bring lunch on more days than you eat out if you want to save.
Click through to find out even more easy ways to save money.