A few weeks ago, I informed all of you that you own very little of your paycheck (Who Owns Your Paycheck?), but I neglected to tell you how you can win that money back! Well, today’s the day. If you’re sick of giving all your money away and having nothing left at the end of the month, this is a must read for you. Get out your pen and notepad, it’s time to get your money back!
21 Ways to Effectively Grow Your Paycheck
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “How on earth can I get this money back? I can’t just stop paying my taxes!” You’re right. You still need to pay Big Brother a percentage of your income in taxes, but what if you thought outside the box for a minute and decided to change your income? Yeah, I know it sounds strange, but stick with me on this one.
How to Get More Out of Your Actual Paycheck
Let’s say that you earn $4,000 a month before taxes and your after-tax income is $2,800. How can you effectively grow your paycheck in this scenario?
1. Get Promoted
This one is pretty obvious, but I’m constantly amazed by how few people think about their next promotion. It seems like they’re too busy with their upcoming trip, their new boat, or whatever else is on their running list of entertainment.
Step back and slow your role for a moment, people! If you aren’t satisfied with how much you earn today, don’t just buy stuff on credit to get the life you want. Earn more money instead!
Bump your salary from $4,000 to $4,200 per month and your take-home pay will increase from $2,800 to $2,940! BOOM! That small promotion just earned you an additional $140 a month!
- Work your butt off
- Start thinking like your boss
- Find a mentor in the field you’d like to advance in
- Get your personal finances and your marriage in order (to eliminate distractions)
- Network with all the rising stars
I could probably write another 2,000 words on the topic of getting promoted to grow your paycheck, but this snippet of info (and the link above) should at least get you pointed in the right direction.
2. Start a Side Hustle
If you want to grow your paycheck, but there’s little room for advancement in your field, then you might want to start a side gig. With the massive growth of the Internet over the past decade, there’s really no limit to what you can do or how much you can earn.
By starting a very small business that earns just $1,000 a month, this will dramatically increase your $2,800 take-home pay to roughly $3,500! Pretty sweet, huh? Starting a side hustle can really improve your income situation in a hurry if you’re ready to work it!
Need some ideas?
If you’re good with your hands, consider the following options:
- flipping houses
- mechanic work
- home repair
- refurbishment (furniture, antiques, whatever’s hot)
- lawn care
Related: 101 Ways to Make More Money
If you’re more of a techie, consider these side hustle options:
- Start a blog (Check out: How to Start a WordPress Blog on iPage for just $24)
- Mommy blogs
- Personal Finance blogs
- Fitness blogs
- Web Developer
- Virtual Assistant
- e-Commerce store
Do you always get a big chunk of money back from Uncle Sam each year? I know it feels great when that money comes in, but why not pay it to yourself throughout the year?
If you normally get $3,000 back each year, this means that each one of your bi-weekly paychecks could be $115 bigger! Instead of earning $2,800 a month, you could instead bring home $3,030 a month with this two-second fix!
How do you do this?
To regulate the amount of taxes that get taken out of your check, simply increase the number of dependents on your W-4 (if you don’t know where to find this, ask your HR rep at work). If you usually put “1” in the dependents box and you get way too much money back at the end of the year, then raise this number to “2”. You’ll suddenly see your paycheck inflate AND you can finally get Uncle Sam’s grubby hands off of that money that you never owed him in the first place!
4. Increase Your HSA Contributions
This method won’t actually increase your take-home pay, but it will grow your paycheck as a whole.
Let me explain.
You know that $4,000/month salary that you’ve got? And you only earn $2,800 of it? You could allow yourself to earn more by contributing to your Health Savings Account.
Here’s how it works. Your HSA contributions enter the account tax-free, AND you can use the money on health related items (the list is HUGE, check it out here) that you’ll certainly need anyway.
So, if you contribute $400 of your monthly salary to your HSA account, those earnings are no longer taxed, which means you pay $120 less to Uncle Sam. Your take-home pay is now $2,520, BUT you have $400 in your Health Savings Account that will never be taxed, which means your net earnings are $2,920, which is $120 MORE than you had before.
It’s a little confusing, but trust me. Your earnings go farther this way.
5. Increase Your 401k Contributions
Contributing to your tax-deferred 401k retirement account is similar to contributing to your HSA, but the money is actually taxed when you decide to withdraw it. However, in today’s dollars, you are benefiting from your contributions.
Contribute $400 a month and you’ll be taxed $120 less than you were before, which means that instead of earning $2,800 from your paycheck, you’ll earn $2,920.
$400 will be in your retirement account, and $2,520 will be in your pocket.
6. Get On The High-Deductible Insurance Plan
If you are a fairly healthy family, then it probably makes sense to switch over to the high-deductible insurance plan. You’ll pay much less out of your paycheck each month, and if you’re hardly ever in the hospital anyway, then you’ll never owe that money back in the form of medical bills!
Between the standard (ie. expensive) plan and the high-deductible plan, there’s typically about $150 difference per month. By switching to the high-deductible plan, you’ll effectively grow your paycheck by that $150. Instead of your $2,800 paycheck, you can now take home $2,950. Pretty sweet, huh?!
Note: Before you do this, I would recommend that you save up an emergency fund that would cover the large deductible – typically $6,000 or so.
7. Cancel Your Vision Insurance
When’s the last time you had cataract surgery? Ever go under the knife for glaucoma? Chances are that your answers are “no” and “no”. If you don’t have serious problems with your eyes, then your vision insurance is probably a waste of money.
I mean think about it. You pay $5 per paycheck for vision insurance; $130 a year. This covers a portion of an eye exam and very little of your expensive frames that you buy from RX Optical.
Instead of paying a whack-load of money on insurance and thinking very little about your expenses, why not flip that equation around? Why not pay little-to-nothing into insurance and start to think about your spending a little more?
Case and point: You spend how much on your glasses? $400? My last pair of glasses cost me $16 (with the prescription lenses included!) because I actually looked for a deal. ZenniOptical.com by the way…in case you were dying to know.
You probably don’t need the vision insurance, and it will bump up your monthly income by $10. It’s not a ton, but it’s something!
8. Cancel Your Dental Insurance
This is basically the same story as above. If you’re not getting root canals or crowns any time soon, then you probably don’t need the dental insurance. Save yourself the $5 a month and keep it in your paycheck!
Make Your Paycheck Go Farther
I just shared eight solid ways to grow your paycheck through tax deductions, reduced insurance costs, and increased earnings. With these methods alone, your paycheck could grow substantially.
Now, what if you could also decrease your expenses so that your paycheck could stretch farther?? As I always say,
“A dollar saved is a $1.40 earned!” — Me (nobody else in the world would say this)
Cutting $100 out of your spending each month is equivalent to earning $140, getting taxed on it, and coming home with $100. So let’s figure out how to cut some expenses!
9. Find a Cheaper House
Want to grow your paycheck? Live in a cheaper house.
Your house should be no more than 2X your annual income. If you earn $60,000 a year, then you should be looking at $120,000 houses (or less). If you’re one of those whiners that lives in California and can’t possibly buy a house with this formula…tough. That’s the price that you pay for living somewhere stupid.
Move from a $200,000 house to a $100,000 and you’ll cut your mortgage payment from $1,000 a month to just $500 a month. That’s like going from $2,800 a month to $3,500! That’s quite the raise for just moving into a different house!
Dave Ramsey says your car should cost no more than 50% of your annual income. If you earn $50,000 a year, your car(s) should be worth no more than $25,000. In my opinion, your cars should be worth even less. I vote for the 10% rule instead. If you earn $50k, your car should cost you $5,000 or less.
Most of the U.S. population buy cars with loans these days. The more expensive the car, the most costly the loan repayment each month, which means fewer dollars are actually going to you. If you reduce your car loan from $25,000 to $0, you could easily save yourself $350 a month.
So what are you supposed to drive then? A nice, reliable, $3,000 car. Don’t tell me they don’t exist, because I’ve been driving them my entire life. Need a list of solid, inexpensive cars? Check out one of my go-to articles: Top 10 Cars for Digging Your Way Out of Debt.
11. Increase Your Car Insurance Deductible
How much do you pay in car insurance each month? $100? $150? Do you know how you can simply reduce that? Just beef up your savings a bit and increase the deductible. By increasing the deductible $1,000, you could quickly save yourself $30 a month. Which, as I discussed earlier, is like earning an extra $43! Your $2,800 paycheck could quickly be $2,843. It’s not a ton, but it’s another 3 days’ worth of groceries!
12. Cut Your Food Budget
Most people spend way too much money on food today – mainly because they frequent restaurants too often and they like grocery shopping at a big-box chain, thinking they’re getting a deal. If you want to eat well and save money doing it, head to a discount grocery store like Aldi or Save-a-Lot. You won’t need any coupons and you’ll spend far less than if you were to shop at Walmart (believe me, I’ve crunched the numbers).
The average family spends $700 a month on food. With my food plan (How to Feed a Family of Four on Less Than $400 a Month), you can save $300. That’s like earning $430 in your paycheck each month! This will grow your paycheck from $2,800 to $3,230!!
13. Shop the Consignment Racks
If you think you’re saving money at Kohl’s, you’re just lying to yourself. You know that purse that was marked down from $140 and you only paid $39.99? You just wasted $39.99 because you didn’t really need a purse in the first place.
If you MUST buy something every once in a while, just head to the consignment shops. You can buy all the same stupid things for about 1/4 of the retail cost. So that makes you only 1/4 as stupid.
In theory this will save you money, but please don’t buy 4 times the stuff because of the deals….
14. Get Rid of the Big Boy Toys
Man, those big boy toys… jet skis, boats, snow sleds, quads, dune buggies… They all go down in value over time, it costs money to keep them running, AND you’re probably insuring them as well! Talk about a drain on the wallet! They can easily cost you $200 a month. Get rid of them and save yourself the expense. BOOM! $200 saved. That’s $285 earned!
15. Cut Down on the Concerts
We, in America, are entertaining ourselves to death! Do you know the average cost of a concert? $47. Taking your significant other? Now that’s $94. Plus gas, plus parking, plus food. You could easily spend $175 on your night out. OUCH! Cut down on just one concert a month and put $175 back in your pocket.
16. Reduce Alcohol Costs
Alcohol is expensive, especially if you’re buying it at the bar or in a restaurant! Have a night out and you can drop $50-$100 pretty quickly. Change your habits and save yourself at least $50 a month here!
17. Switch to Term Life Insurance
If you’re paying $100 a month for life insurance, you’re getting screwed, plain and simple. Chances are, you’ve a whole life insurance policy.
What’s a whole life policy?
It’s where you put in money for your life insurance and the insurance company builds up an investment account for you with your contributions.
Sounds pretty sweet at first, until you realize that if you die, they only pay you the face value of the insurance and keep your investment money. OR, if you want to move your money and get out of the policy, they’ll charge you with countless fees.
Instead of putting $100 into a whole life policy, put $10 into term life insurance (for the same coverage) each month and keep the other $90 in your pocket.
18. Cut Your Cable
I almost didn’t include this point because you hear it all the time, but why on earth are people still dumping their money into their cable today??
According to NBC News, the average cost of cable today is $99. You do realize that you can get quite a few FREE channels with a cheap antenna, right? And, if you really need HGTV, why not just get the Sling TV app for $20 a month?
This easy switch will save you $79 every.single.month.
I bought an iPhone 6s a few months ago and paid $199.99 at a Verizon Wireless retail store. This was before I realized that almost every other customer signs up for the monthly payment plan.
“Hmmm, there must be some sort of benefit to this.” I thought to myself. “What am I missing?”
So I dug into the numbers. Instead of dropping $199.99 on the spot for the phone, I could sign up for payments of $22.08 for 24 months.
…..which equates to a total cost of…..$529.92….
Ummmm….why are so many people signing up for this plan? Oh yeah…people are broke and stupid. I forgot.
Do NOT make payments for your phone. If you can’t afford one, don’t buy one. It’ll save you $22.08 a month.
20. Ignore the Warranties
“Are extended warranties worth it?” USA Today performed the study. Most of the time, extended warranties are absolutely NOT worth what you pay in.
In other words, if you buy a TV, a dishwasher, a microwave, or a smartphone in the near future, keep your money in your pocket when they ask about the extended warranty. This will save you an average of $20 a month.
21. Never Stop Asking For Discounts
It doesn’t matter if I buy a car or a toaster, I’m asking for a discount. I mean, why not? The worst thing they can say is no. And, if they DO agree to a discount, that’s immediate money in my pocket for no additional work (other than uttering about 5 words…). Over my lifetime, I’m sure I’ve saved thousands of dollars by simply asking for a lower price.
Try it out, and you might just keep a few more dollars in your bank account each month.
Start Growing Your Paycheck – It’s Your Turn
So what does all this advice mean for you? What are you going to do about your situation? Will you just piss and moan about how you never have any money left at the end of the month? Or are you actually going to do something about it this time?
In the 21 points above, I gave you the power to increase your income by thousands of dollars every single month! Heck, even if you fail at 18 of the 21, you’ll still probably save yourself a few hundred each month. And that’s nothing to sneeze at!
So what option will you try? How are you going to get your paycheck back?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.