Keep more of your $$$
With the holidays in full force, as we spend hundreds (and maybe thousands!) on gifts for those we love, the topic of money invariably crosses our minds.
Transitioning from college (where we are all basically broke, depending on allowances from our parents or working our way though school) to the work world is a great step when it comes to money. We finally have some! Yet after a while (or a short time for some of us) whatever that salary is get filled up, assigned to cars or hobbies or vacations.
Money management becomes an area of interest. While I will leave the discussions on developing credit and getting out of debt to the plethora of bloggers who focus solely on the subject like Money Under 30, I will offer a few simple tips on how to keep more of the money you are earning. With modern medicine we are a whole lot more likely to live a VERY long time an planning accordingly should be done sooner rather than later.
Here are Mr. Business’ Ideas on Saving $:
- What to have for lunch– The cost of lunch during the month can really add up (especially if you live in a big city). One idea is to bring your lunch to work every once in a while. Whether you go out and take home a doggie bag or make a little extra food when you cook to have leftovers (many people say they hate cooking for one, why not cook for two- one for your dinner and one for your lunch). I am not saying to go as far as starving yourself or eating unhealthy (I remember hearing a story about a software engineer who saved money during the first dotcom boom by eating nothing but Taco Bell), but there are ways to find economical eating options (there is always cheap sandwiches at Subway, “eat fresh!”)
- More food tips– I save at least $50 per month by not ordering soda when I have lunch. Soda tastes good, yes but it is also the highest margin product at restaurants and in comparison, overpriced. Save money by staying away from the higher margin items. One more idea is to snack. If you are snacking throughout the day (you pick what kind of snack you fancy), odds are you won’t eat as big of a lunch (saving you money and helping you avoid FOOD COMA that always seems to hit me after I eat a huge burrito for lunch).
- A secret to get more money from your company– While not applicable for everyone, many jobs require employees to drive beyond the normal commute that we take each day. By law, employers must reimburse employees for any and all mileage above and beyond your regular commute, at $.55 per mile. While we have to pay for the gas these extra miles take, this $.55 per mile more than covers the gas of even the worst gas guzzlers. Most people I know leave this money on the table and never fill out the forms to get paid back. Don’t be one of these people. I generally make a extra couple hundred dollars a month on the extra mileage I have to drive.
- Write-offs!– I don’t want to offer any official financial advice (as I am NOT a professional in this area. I will leave that to your accountant and financial planner), I do know that there are numerous things related to your job that you can write-off each year to lower your tax liability and get a bigger refund (or have to pay Uncle Sam less). For many, our “education” does not end when we leave college. There are many things that fall under the realm of professional development that can be written off. If you are part of a professional organization, if you purchase any books related to your field or career development, if you attend any conferences or seminars- all expenses related to this can be deducted from your taxes. This includes all expenses. So for example, if you take a trip from LA to NYC for a short seminar but end up staying a few more days to chill with friends and relax, you can write off most of the trip expenses. I would also recommend having a side business entity (sole proprietorship or corporation, that actually makes a little bit of money doing something. You can make scrapbooks or wash windows, whatever) that you create. This will allow you to tie certain expenses you have to your business. For example, if you have a side business that people call you for, you can write-off your $100+ cell phone bill, among other things.
- Pay your most important bill first, SAVINGS– This tip makes almost ever experts list but nonetheless is really important. If you don’t set aside money for your savings first there is often a (VERY HIGH) likelihood you will find a way to spend it. My advice is to set up a monthly EFT from your checking account to your savings account with a set amount of money. You can always transfer the money back if there is an emergency, but setting this money aside will really help later. Also, take advantage of any 401k plans that your employer contributes to. For example, my company matches 80% of up to 6% of my salary in a 401k plan. Think of it this way, if I set aside this 6% I am automatically getting an 80% return on my investment on day 1!
Money is always an important topic and should not be avoided or ran from (although don’t go too far on the spectrum and let it run your life). Keep these 5 simple tips in mind. There are many FREE tools like Mint that can help you budget and keep more of your money.
This is my last blog entry for the year (we all need a little break to refresh and plan for the year ahead). I wish all of you and your families a happy and healthy holidays. Live it up on New Years and I will be back in a couple weeks ready to make sure we all have a FREAKIN’ FANTASTIC 2012.
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