December 29, 2005

Give Yourself a Pay Raise!

Alaskan boat, © Janelle Meraz Hooper
12-29-05-Give Yourself a Pay Raise
Whenever the New Year rolls around, I start thinking about organizing something. Sometimes it's my closet or garage. Today, I'm thinking about money.
Even though most of us are working harder than ever for the same amount of money, we can’t remember the last time we had a pay raise. Meanwhile, the costs of food, healthcare, medicines, property taxes, and rent are rising steadily.
Even worse, stocks are down and some of the investments we were counting on for our retirement are gone forever. On top of that, we’re paying more for goods and services that often aren’t (good, that is).
Maybe it’s time to give yourself a pay raise. One way to do this is by stopping the leaks. Plug those small leaks, and they can add up to a waterfall at the end of the year.
I’m not going to put the two biggies—cigarettes and liquor—on the list. Everyone is already aware of what they might be spending on those. Let’s examine some of the hidden leaks: daily lattes, charitable donations, restaurant meals, expensive gifts, and late charges on credit accounts. Expensive leaks might include:
Daily lattes: $3.50 apiece x 365 days a year = over $1200 a year!
Restaurant and take-out meals: Substituting a peanut butter sandwich at home for a meal in a restaurant can add up to a sizable savings during the year. Get over the idea that every meal has to be a gourmet delight. A peanut butter sandwich and an apple can be a good thing, nutrition and budget-wise.
Donations: Companies don’t give money to every charity that comes to their door, why should you? Make a budget, decide yearly (or half-yearly, which charities you can afford to support and how much you’ll give. I’m all for helping the needy, but charity starts at home.
Volunteering: Giving away time is like giving away money. I know this is going to make me unpopular, but volunteering is expensive. Time taken away from your family means more fast food meals, bigger gas bills, and more out-of-pocket purchases for charity-related items that you would never buy otherwise. I’m not saying you should cut out all of your charitable activities, just think about what it’s really costing you. I was always the worst about volunteering too much—I logged so many hours that my family suffered.
Late charges: those late charges on credit card bills can be just plain ugly. Oftentimes, your payment may be on time, but the banks own bookkeeping practices may be costing you money. Check it out. Sometimes, a bill may say it’s due on one date, but it may really have to be paid days ahead to go through the system and avoid late charges. I know, it’s not fair. It just is.
Dry cleaning bills: A piece of clothing on sale that has to be dry-cleaned is not always a bargain. I have a pair of pants that was on sale for $25.00. I’ve spent three times that much having them dry-cleaned.
Shop ahead for gifts: This is a biggie. Most of us spend hundreds of dollars a year on last minute gifts. Planning ahead could enable you a little breathing room so you can shop more creatively. Also, a lot of us over-gift. Think about it. Over the course of a year, those pricey gifts on your charge card can add up.
I’m guessing that, with a little effort, you can save at least $3,000 a year. That’s $250 a month! There’s a chance that there’s even more to be saved that could be put to better use someplace else. It’s your money. Keep it.

LOL-William H. Macy-My husband and I first noticed William H. Macy in the TV show Sport Night several years ago. At the time, we said it was such a shame he didn’t work more, because he was so good. Now, we’re looking for him and we see him all the time. It’s become a joke. We’re always calling to each other, “Honey, come quick! That guy who never works is on TV again!”
Turtle trivia: I've read that turtles like earthworms, but hate night crawlers. Go figure.

Quote du jour:
"How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?"- Mostel in the movie Springtime for Hitler

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