Maximizing your paycheck sounds like something you’d only be able to do if you ask- and get a raise. But there’s more to it than that and more often than not, our busy lives distract us from all the other tips and tricks we can apply in order to stretch our dollars.
By employing a few of our ideas, which are a combination of earning more money while saving at every turn, we guarantee you’ll notice the difference in your bank account. Whether you’re saving for a bit ticket item, getting ready for an upcoming trip or working towards a comfortable retirement, these 24 items are sure to help you with your goals.
1. Put Your Budget in Writing
Without a financial framework, how are you supposed to figure out the best approach towards maximizing your income? The first step in figuring out your plan is to actually look at your current situation. We think it’s best to open an excel sheet (or something similar) and write down all of your expenses.
The only way this will be a constructive way to spend your time is if you’re brutally honest with yourself. Just because something seems like a minimal expense, write it down anyway. Every detail will help put all your spending habits into perspective.
Moving forward you’ll know exactly which tips from our list you should use. Is your problem the amount of money you make? Then try to boost it. Or are you spending way too much on things you might not necessarily need? Then it’s time to cut down and start budgeting.
2. Consolidate Your Debt
Do you feel like you’re crushed by debt? Perhaps your new financial framework has helped shed some light on just how concerning your debt is. So it’s time to nip the problem in the bud…
If only it were that easy. We know, keeping track of payments, interest rates and timeframes can be difficult, but taking care of this major expense now is better than to allow it to gnaw away at your paycheck for prolonged periods of time.
Debt consolidation allows you to roll all your debts into one. All your different interest rates will now merge into one, much easier to keep track of. You could even use a personal loan to try and chip away at your debt going forward, as many Americans do on a regular basis. Taking a $35,000 loan over three to seven years is a popular approach towards this particularly frustrating problem.
Going forward it’ll also be easier to keep track of your expenses. With debt consolidation, you’ll be able to make just one monthly payment, and your new, fixed interest won’t cause you any more trouble along the way. Say goodbye to mounting interest!
3. Ask For a Raise
Asking for a raise never hurt anyone. If anything it shows investment in your company and a will to evolve.
Before sitting down with your employer, prepare a list of your achievements and values. In general, you should be able to explain why you deserve a raise and your contributions should make the top of your list.
Furthermore, you should also practice your speech. Ask your friends or your significant other to listen, but if nobody’s available, use the mirror or your pets for practice- just make sure to give them treats for a job well done at the end.
4. Work Overtime
Not enough people who recommend working overtime bring up the damaging side effects. In short, while you should strive to earn a little more money when you’re short on cash, you should avoid burnout. Thinking of this as a permanent solution could do more harm than good.
Remember, it’s not worth it if it’ll start affecting your mental and physical health, so try to do it in short bursts rather than changing your whole lifestyle in order to accommodate too many working hours.
Start with just a little bit extra and see how that affects your finances. In the meantime, make sure to update your framework to stay on top of any changes. If you think you can do more without sacrificing your wellbeing, go for it! But remember to also take a step back from time to time.
5. Switch Service Providers
Switching service providers might not sound like a great idea right off the bat. What you should do first it contacts them and discuss your current TV, internet and cellphone plans. More often than not, if they feel you’re about to jump ship, they’ll offer you a better deal or recommend cheaper plans.
But just because they’re willing to make changes, don’t take the first deal that comes your way. Other providers would probably be more than willing to offer you specials and packages if you switch. A good tactic is to not let them know you’re positively willing to switch. Let them woo you and try to negotiate.
Now that you’ve got several options, pick the one that best fits your needs while also saving money. Under no circumstances are you to allow yourself to be convinced to buy a bigger package, no matter how great it sounds!
6. Sell Some Belongings
Let’s be honest, we probably accumulate more stuff than we get rid off. After all, who can claim that they get rid of old clothes or shoes after each shopping trip? Instead of letting all your items collect dust let them earn money instead.
The best place to do this is online. Simply take pictures of everything you’re willing to part with and start advertising on eBay, the Facebook Marketplace or other websites and apps.
You can take decluttering a step further, too. If you have a lot of drawers chock full of old clothes, clear it out first, then put it on an online marketplace too. You won’t be needing it anymore, anyway!
7. Take On a Side Gig
Do you want to make more money without leaving your current workplace? No time like the present We live in an age where side gigs and side hustles are constantly on the rise. You can do pretty much whatever you can think of for money: drive people or food around, online or in-person tutoring, freelance writing, managing a business’ social media, art commissions. All you have to do is reach out and grab an opportunity, of which there are plenty!
Websites like Fiverr, Freelancer, and Upwork are great places to find remote work. Best of all you don’t have to fit yourself into a little box. Showcasing all your skills is a must on freelancing websites such as these, so put yourself out there and watch as the money starts flowing in.
8. Choose an Employer Who Pays All or Most of Your Healthcare
Looking for a different job might seem like too big of a deal to fit into a ‘tips and tricks’ category, but it’s a perfectly viable solution if you’ve got monetary issues.
Your healthcare is probably eating up a large chunk of your paycheck, right? Employers know that in order to attract the best talent they have to offer the best benefits, including health benefits. So, put two and two together and look for a job that’s willing to go the extra mile. You’ll be shocked to see just how much you’ll save along the way.
Of course, you also have to balance out your new wage and any other expense that comes with the switch. If it’ll cost you considerably more to get to and from work, that’s yet another thing to look at. Chances are, though, all these costs won’t come anywhere near healthcare expenses.
9. Work From Home When Possible
Apart from all the extra work opportunities the gig economy has to offer, we can also thank it for the overabundance of work from home opportunities. Companies are more willing than ever to offer these perks and you should definitely take advantage of them.
Not only will you be saving on gas money, but you’ll also cut lunch, dry cleaning, and car maintenance costs. Best of all, working from home also comes with a tax write-off. Ask your employer if these options are available to you, and if you have an inkling that they might shut that idea down, make sure to point out how the company would be saving money as well. This, of course, is on a case by case basis, but doing your homework can be well worth the effort.
Just make sure to point out they’ll be able to save costs related to electricity, phones, computers, air conditioning, and heating. Virtually any necessity that keeps an office operating should be brought up so your chances of success would skyrocket.
10. Avoid Adding To Your Debt
Now that you’ve taken care of your debt either by employing a well thought out plan or through debt consolidation, it’s time to stop adding to the burden. If you can, avoid high-interest bills and opening up new credit cards, as these are the main culprits financial advisors say we should avoid.
Just think of your plan of paying your debt in full. Does it look like you could add any more to it? The more you stay away from issues such as these, the more you’ll stretch your money.
11. Refinance Your Mortgage
Refinancing your mortgage might sound like a lot of work with little payoff. But that’s definitely not the case! You can look into ways of reducing your interest rate or lowering your monthly mortgage payment. If you can do both, even better!
This is where you’ll probably have to do some in depth homework since refinancing options vary from year to year. You might be surprised by what you find on the market, especially if you haven’t checked in a while.
12. Pay In Cash Whenever Possible
Paying in cash is one of the best ways to start budgeting. Just think about it. Pull a couple of dollar bills out of your wallet and go shopping with that amount alone. Your past self will force your present self to put back whatever items you can’t afford.
That should give you a good idea of what you need versus what you want, like chips or sweets, which you should probably replace with healthier options.
Here’s another reason you should do this. If you pay with cash, you’ll avoid using credit and by extension, you’ll avoid paying interest later! It’s a win-win.
13. Carpool to Work
The less you use your car, the better. Yeah, we know, you bought it for a reason, but if you can catch a ride with a friend or colleague towards work (or nearby! You can add a little walk to your daily routine to stay in shape), then you should.
You’ll keep more of your paycheck since you won’t spend as much on car maintenance and gas.
We suggest giving it a go. You never know how much you’ll be able to save unless you try it out. We typically stop by the store when going to and from work, right? Well, since you’ll depend on somebody else to drive you around, you can’t really make too many stops along the way, which will cause you to spend less overall.
14. Turn Off the Lights
The U.S. Department of Energy might know a thing or two about saving money when it comes to light bulbs! Turning them off could save you a decent amount of money in the long run, but it all depends on the type of light bulbs you use in your home.
Don’t buy incandescent light bulbs since they waste the most amount of energy while also being the most expensive. They give off more heat than light. In fact, 90% of the energy they use is in the form of heat. The second worse culprits are the halogen light bulbs, so you’re better off buying CFLs and LEDs if you want to pay less money on energy on a monthly basis.
These savings will add up in the long run, so it’s important to stick to these new bulbs while also always reminding yourself to turn the lights off. Turns out our parents were right all along…
15. Unplug Appliances
Before you turn off all the lights (because you don’t want to walk around stubbing your toes) you should start unplugging your bigger appliances. Obviously, don’t unplug your refrigerator, but everything else is a -go! The reason behind this is because they’ll keep wasting energy, even after you turn them off.
Your TV, printer, washer, and dryer should be at the top of your list. If you make a habit out of it, coupled with our previous point, you’ll notice your energy bill will slowly get cheaper.
16. Grow Your Own Produce
High quality healthy fruits and vegetables can cost a fortune. You don’t have to stop eating healthy in order to save money. What you can do is stop buying them altogether. Growing your own might seem impossible at first, but with plenty of guides on how to get started, it’s easier than ever to start your own green patch in the back of your garden.
Even if you live in an apartment, not all hope is lost. Use any window you can, or see if you can start a community garden around your apartment building- your neighbors will probably thank you for it too.
17. Cook at Home
We’re so used to eating out, we hardly even notice the fact that we spend three times more money than we would if we cooked at home. Don’t believe us? Refer back to your earlier financial framework and you’ll see we’re not wrong.
Cooking at home has so many benefits, we might as well write an article all about it. First of all, you’ll have full control of the stuff that goes into your meals. You can even turn this into a fun activity for your friends and family. Furthermore, you’ll save money on gas and tips as well as overpriced meals.
For more tips on how to save money in the kitchen, check this article out!
18. Buy Generic Groceries
Brand names know how to use clever marketing techniques to grab your attention, which is why we’re more likely to pick their items off the shelf. We pay more money for their products, they spend more money on advertisement and so and so forth.
It’s time to switch to generic brands. Even better, grocery store brands could save you even more money, and there’s hardly any reason not to do this. If you compare ingredients lists you’ll notice they’re practically indistinguishable. So why should you pay more for the same thing? Just because of marketing, advertising, and flashy packaging?
19. Reduce Your Thermostat
Want to know how you can save 10% in energy costs annually? The U.S. Department of Energy has got you covered once more. If you want to pay less, simply lower your thermostat by between 7 and 10 degrees and you’ll part with less money at the end of the month.
It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but upgrading to a programmable thermostat will also help stretch your paycheck. This investment will aid you in controlling your house’s temperature so that it won’t slip your mind halfway through the year.
20. Shop Sales at Specific Times of the Year
Timing your shopping sprees is a formidable way of saving money. Avoid paying full price for the newest collection of clothes by waiting for sales, which sounds a lot easier than it is. Here are some key factors to keep in mind.
First of all, buy sporting equipment in January and February, when most retailers are trying to take advantage of New Year’s resolutions by luring clients in with low prices.
Secondly, hold off on buying electronics. Then, open up your wallet between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when most items, including typically expensive ones, go on sale.
And finally, buy seasonal clothes out of season. Sure, you’re going to have to trust your instincts regarding fashion trends, but we’re here to worry about money, not style. Plus, if you stick to more ‘basic’ items, you can’t go wrong. Retailers will scramble to get rid of clothes after a season ends, so that’s the best time to star start shopping.
21. Sign Up for Rewards Programs
Nowadays it’s easy to save money by taking advantage of rewards programs. We can’t think of any place that doesn’t have some sort of system for their clients. Whether it’s a card for personalized discounts or a rewards accumulation program, it’s a safe way to stretch your paycheck.
Ask about them during checkout or check a particular store’s website. You could even take it a step further by comparing several rewards programs and only shopping from the places that have the best offers.
Now go out there, earn points, and save money!
22. Use Mobile Payment Apps
Couponing is not a dying fad, far from it. In fact, couponing has evolved thanks to technology. Nowadays you can use a number of mobile apps that will do all the hard work for you. They’ll look for the coupons, so you barely have to lift a finger.
Don’t have a smartphone? Don’t fret. There are plenty of websites that do the exact same thing. Put away or supplement your current couponing habits and you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll be able to save. Your wallet will be very, very thankful.
23. Find Free Activities
Just because something’s free doesn’t mean it’s bad. You can find free activities at around every corner, all you have to do is look. For example, check when your nearest museums have free days. Or look for free national parks to visit for hiking or camping trips. Or how about a bit of urban exploring? We know you don’t know your city, especially if you live in a big one, like the back of your hand!
We also recommend checking out your local library. You’d be surprised by just how much they have to offer. For more information about the amazing, free things you can do at the library, check out this article. Hint, there are more surprising than you expect!
24. Save On Prescription Medications
Medications can take a huge bite out of your paycheck. To save, you can consider buying generic and maybe ask for a larger supply, like 90 days versus 30, to save on co-pays. And it could be worth it to shop around to see which pharmacy has the best prices.
We know exactly how much medication costs in the U.S. and we think it’s a good idea to save money in this avenue as well. The first thing you should do is shop around. Different pharmacies have different prices, so don’t get stuck with the most expensive option if you can help it.
Then, consider buying larger amounts in order to save on co-pays. We guarantee than 90 days versus 30 days is going to end up cheaper.
Finally, check if you can switch to generic medicine. Remember to talk to your medic about changes you’d like to make to your prescription in order to save.
And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed our list of ways to stretch your paycheck. What other clever things do you do to make your money last longer? Let us know in the comments below.