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5 Quick and Easy Budgeting Tips to Finance Your Lower Paycheck

Income Personal Finance Taxes

Elimination of the payroll tax credit that went into effect on January 1, 2013 has more than likely affected your take-home pay.

A close up of a group of giraffes (a tower)

For most Americans, it’s to the tune of about 2%. The payroll tax credit for 2011 and 2012 effectively replaced the Making Work Pay Credit that expired in 2010.

If you don’t think that’s going to have a significant effect on your overall finances, consider the fact that if you make $45,000 per year, you’re now receiving $900 less annually.

That’s a few car payments, a mortgage or rent payment, or several trips to the grocery store. If you’ve been falling behind of late on your monthly bills, this could be the reason.

Here are 5 helpful budgeting tips on how to get caught up:

1. Start Clipping Coupons

Clipping coupons may seem passé, but it is a great way to save. Check your Sunday paper for deals on items you regularly purchase.

If you prefer to go digital, take a look at some popular manufacturers’ websites and see if they offer print-at-home coupons. And, if you’re adept enough with your smartphone, you can score some excellent coupons there.

2. Pay For Everything in Cash

You don’t have to toss your credit cards in the trash, just put them in a drawer for a while. Carry only cash and use it for everything you buy, or use a debit card.

Pulling out your wallet and seeing that you have to spend real dollars might motivate you to cut out those daily stops at the convenience store or rethink that TV you’ve had your eye on.

Try this out for a month and see how much money you save.

3. Cut Monthly Service Costs

Bundle your monthly services like telephone, Internet, and cable TV under one plan instead of going with three different companies and you can save significantly. I recently did just this and cut my bills by roughly 25%.

In addition to the financial savings, you’re also going to spend less time paying your bills, which is always a plus.

4. Eliminate Wants and Focus on Needs

Differentiating between a want and a need is simple and the best budgeting tip. Anything you’d like to have is a want; anything you must have in order to survive is a need.

Reduce and eliminate your wants and cut the cost of your needs as much as possible.

Skip the latest and greatest electronic gadget, resist that expensive vacation, and get your home audited by your energy provider to find ways to save.

5. Save on Gas

To save money on gas, sign up at the Gasbuddy website and receive a list of the cheapest gas stations near you. Consolidate your errands and partner them with your trips to and from work to expend less fuel.

Check out your owner’s manual, make sure your tires are properly inflated, and get your car tuned up on a regular basis.

Some grocery stores offer fuel rewards programs. For example, Kroger’s rewards program saves you 10 cents on a gallon of gas for every $100 you spend.

Gift card purchases count toward that, so pick up a few for the stores you frequent.

Just remember that reward points may expire.


Once you get your head above water again, you just might find yourself with a little extra cash left over in your checking account each month.

Hold off on personal purchases and instead ramp up your emergency fund, start saving for college for the kids, or put your newfound surplus toward your retirement investments.

Shaping up these areas may help you sleep a lot better at night and make for a more financially sound life.

What do you do to save money each month?

Photo credit: bobbygreg via photopin cc

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