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Isn’t it crazy how quickly your paycheck seems to disappear?  One minute you have money, the next it’s gone.  Getting a raise or better paying job can boost your income, but you’ll still run into the same problems if you don’t manage your money well.  Here are some tips that can help your paycheck last longer.

Learn how to budget

Budgeting is the key to good money management.  Once you know how much cash you’re bringing in, you can prioritize how each penny will be spent.  Take a minute to review your bank and credit card statements.  It can be pretty eye-opening to see how much you currently spend on non-essentials.  If you’re being billed for a service that you no longer use, don’t be scared to call and cancel. 

Adjust your tax withholding

Getting a big tax refund isn’t all it’s cracked up to be because it’s not free money like you may assume.  What it means is you paid more than your fair share of taxes during the year and now the government is giving it back.  If you’re one of the millions of taxpayers who received a refund this year, adjust your withholding so you can bring home a bigger paycheck instead.  To do so, you’ll need to submit a new W-4 to your employer.

Pay for everything with cash

Your spending is much more likely to get out of control when you rely on credit cards versus cash.  Carrying plastic means you can spend up to your limit and not bat an eyelash.  When you only have a few dollar bills in your wallet, you must be more strategic with your purchases. And don’t be like those people who drop their pennies on the ground like they’re worthless. Hold on to your loose change and put it in a jar at the end of each day.  Once it’s full, you can wrap up the coins and deposit it into your bank account or trade it in for cash. 

Shop around to get the best deals

Different places charge different prices for the same exact item.  Before going on your shopping trip, check the circulars of a few nearby stores to see which one is offering the best price.  Also see if you can find any coupons to bring the price down further.  If you haven’t already downloaded a cash back app like Ibotta or Checkout 51, we suggest you do it now.  By doing so, you can be rewarded for purchasing certain items.

Buy generic instead of brand name

Just because you’ve grown up buying a particular brand of cereal, snacks or condiments doesn’t mean you can’t find the same quality in other brands.  Often, the only difference between generic and brand name items are the packaging and price.  You can save a lot of money by buying generic prescription medication, spices, canned beans/vegetables and baking supplies.

Stop losing money to bank fees

Bank fees are annoying, expensive and most of the time completely avoidable.  When you use an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, you’ll be charged a fee.  To avoid it, stick to ATMs within your network.  Another tip is to make sure you withdraw enough cash to last you until your next payday.  By planning ahead, you won’t have to make any extra trips to the ATM.  If you’re the type that likes to rely on your debit card to make purchases, always check your account balance beforehand.  This will prevent you from overdrafting your account and save you the $35 fee.

Take advantage of free activities

You’ll need to wait until the COVID-19 crisis is over and it’s safe to go outside again. But when the time comes, you’ll be able to have a great time on a small entertainment budget.  There are plenty of fun activities that don’t cost a dime, you just have to be open minded.  Restaurants and happy hours may be out of the equation, but you can go to the park, visit the library or stay home and play board games with your family.  You can also find out which days are free at your local zoo or museums and go on those days.  Many cities have a community calendar of events going on in the area, pick out a couple you find interesting then ask your friends to tag along.