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Everyday Cheapskate: 6 Ways to Give Yourself a Tax-Free Raise

Mary Hunt on

These days, with the cost of just about everything going up, who isn't looking for ways to increase their income? If you're hoping the boss will come through with a healthy raise, your unemployment benefits will be extended or Uncle Sam approves a healthy cost-of-living increase on your benefit check, I wouldn't get too excited. Even if such an increase is exceptional, it's not likely to do a lot of good.

By the time a raise is adjusted for taxes, unemployment income disappears or you lock eyeballs with a Social Security monthly check increase of $1.50, your bank account is not likely to see much of a change. And if that's not bad enough, it's a common problem that when you earn more, you automatically spend more. Reckless spending can consume a lot of cash -- fast.

The degree of reckless spending seems to rise in direct proportion to income. It won't be long until you are back in your old financial rut, just barely getting by. Sadly, until you get serious about your spending, more money will never be enough.

The secret to getting cash inflow to exceed outflow is to reduce the outflow. That is a solution available to almost everyone.

Cutting expenses is not unreasonably difficult once you understand it is like giving yourself a tax-free raise. Every dollar you do not spend is another dollar in your wallet or bank account. The challenge is to find realistic yet painless ways to trim spending without creating drudgery or removing the fun from your life. Even if you do not have a job, you can give yourself a raise.

LIVE WITH CASH

 

Except for payments you must send through the mail, living with cash is a good way to curb mindless spending. It is not easy. In fact, it's hard. But if you are willing to teach your brain and your attitude to treat this move as you would a job, it will become a very useful challenge.

Surveys indicate cash customers are more mindful of what they're doing, and therefore spend a lot less than those paying with plastic.

STOP SHOPPING

Unless you have a specific need and the money to pay for it, don't wander aimlessly through the mall or surf the internet just to see what looks good. Remember this: A true need is never discovered while standing in a store. It is realized during normal, everyday living.

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