Squeezing a 'Raise' out of Your Paycheck

Have you ever considered how great it would be if you could make your money go just a little bit farther every month? Just a small raise at work would be nice, right? Well, contrary to what you may think, it may be well within your grasp. Of course, you can't always control what you make and when you'll get a pay increase, but you certainly can control – to a large degree – where and on what your money is spent. The truth of the matter is that, unfortunately, many of us have a considerable amount of cash going out the window month after month that we don't even think about, and indeed need not be spending. So, let's do a quick assessment of just how and where some of your money may be disappearing.

Your cell phone plan

Nowadays, almost everybody has a cellular phone. They've become a given part of life. But, when was the last time you took a good look at exactly what's included in your service plan? Are you using all of your allotted minutes, or do you now have so many rollover minutes that you couldn't use them all if you were on the phone nonstop for weeks? If you fall into this later category, you may want to consider downsizing your plan.

It's not just those unused minutes, however. You must also take into account any text message fees, ring-tone and game subscriptions or other features included with your phone that you don't use – or could do without. Cutting back on these 'bells and whistles' could mean a savings of $30 or more each month, which translates to $0.75 an hour more from your paycheck (assuming a 40-hour work week).

Other subscriptions

Sounds good? Then, let's continue. Do you have a DVD- or video game rental membership? Many of these services offer to send you two or three DVDs or games at a time so that you can always have them around to watch or play. They're great services to have if you love movies and games, but do you need the plan that you currently have? People often enroll with the highest (that is, the most expensive) plan. But, over time you may not watch DVDs or play video games at the frequency you used to. Cutting back can save you $20 or more a month. That effectively equals another $0.50 per hour in your paycheck.

Credit cards

Dig up your credit card statements for the previous twelve months. Look carefully through those billings to see if you're being charged any annual fees. Many rewards cards that offer cash back or airline miles carry annual fees of up to $100. If you aren't getting enough back in the form of perks and other rewards from the card, it may be time to cancel it and save your self another $.05 an hour. And, while you've got those statements in hand, search for any other annual- or monthly fees that are possibly being charged to you. It's not unusual to have forgotten that you signed up for something months ago, only to find out that you're still paying for it.

Just by taking note of where your money is going and whether it should really be going there, you may very well be able to give yourself a decent pay raise, keeping $100 or more in your pocket every month.

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