When your first paycheck comes this month, it's probably going to be lower thanks to the expiration of the payroll tax cut. For Americans earning around $50,000, the expiration translates into $80 per month or nearly $1,000 per year.
There are 10 (relatively) easy ways to get that money back:
- Adjust your IRS withholding If you’re in the habit of getting a fat IRS refund every year, you’re probably withholding a little too much out of each paycheck. But with the loss of the payroll tax break and higher costs all around, tweaking your deductions could mean more money now, even if it means less money when tax time rolls around. But beware: Come April 2014, your tax bill could be huge, and that would make us sad.
- Kill your snack habit We don’t need to do the math for you to let you know that the $5 spent daily coffee or other treats is adding up to hefty sum every month. Ok, we did the math anyway, and it's more than $100 a month that you could save here.
- Love a homemade sandwich Now imagine spending only $5 -- roughly the cost of a frozen TV dinner or homemade sandwich and chips -- for lunch, instead of almost $10 at Chipotle or Chick-fil-A every day. More money in your pocket. Cut your work lunch costs from $200 to $100 per month.
- Hock your useless old phone If you have even one old cracked iPhone 3 sitting around your house, you are sitting on cash. An old iPhone 4S can fetch up to $250, while even the original iPhone 3 is still worth $15. Check out the different ways to sell old iPhones and other used electronics.
- Stop online dating and meet nice people in real life Between cable TV, Netflix, Internet, cell phone and other extra monthly fees like gym dues, video game fees or online dating memberships, it adds up to a big hit on monthly bills. If you're not going to the gym -- or on a date -- at least two times a week, your membership probably isn't worth it.
- Stop downloading dumb stuff onto your smartphone Data plans usually allow between 300MB and up to 10GB per month in downloads, but if you're streaming Netflix to your phone or habitually watching cat videos on YouTube, you could be going way over that limit and paying extra for it. Use WiFi on your device or curb your enthusiasm to save money on your cellphone bill.
- Don't buy into the lotto hype Face it: You're just not going to win (that's why critics call the lotto the "math tax."). And you're wasting your money on scratch tickets too. And even if you do win, you'll probably be in the new super-high income tax bracket anyway. So we just saved you like $100 million in taxes right there. You can thank us later.
- Say no to plastic and mobile payments It's easy to spend more than you can afford when actual money is hidden behind credit cards and mobile payments. "With credit cards, people don’t remember how much they have spent and they increase [their spending]," Min Zhao, an associate marketing professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, told HuffPost.
- Say yes to cash and budgeting Limit spending to whatever cash is in your pocket. If you're having trouble figuring out how much you can actually afford to spend safely, there are dozens of online budgeting programs, including ones from Mint.com and LearnVest.com.
- Ride shotgun A new generation of ride-sharing apps for smartphones is making it easier than ever to find and share rides, thus saving you money on gas and car expenses. Plus it's good for the polar bears.