If you're working for someone else, the classic method for increasing your income is to prove your worth to the company and ask for more responsibility and compensation. The problem with this approach is it puts your financial fate into someone else's hands, and those hands could be tied. You might work harder and do all the right things in the office but still not receive the recognition you want.
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Take your compensation into your own hands. These suggestions will help you improve your cash flow, one of the biggest benefits of getting a raise, without increasing your gross income.
Revisit your budget. Try trimming 10 percent off your budget for all but your fixed expenses. If you're not willing to cut back that much, try 5 percent. It may not be fun dining out on fewer occasions, but a few smart choices will bulk up your savings account as much as a raise would.
Adjust your tax withholding. Do you get a tax refund every year? While it feels good getting a check from the government once a year, if you're getting this check, you've been loaning the government your money without charging interest. Better to change your withholding through your employer and keep more of your money throughout the year.
Turn your hobby into income. I've been writing content for the web since 1995, but it wasn't until 2004 that I started taking writing seriously and began earning money. Had I started earlier, I'd be in a better financial position now.
Use technology to get the best price. I never buy a big-ticket item before using Google to shop for the best price from a reasonable retailer. Use price-matching policies to their full advantage. I've had stores match prices I could only find online just by showing my phone displaying the web page to the salesperson. If you're willing to walk away, you have more leverage.
Negotiate your expenses. Although you won't always be successful, always ask. Sometimes saving money is as easy as calling your cable company and asking if there are any specials available. If you rent an apartment or house, in today's market you could be successful in lowering the price when you renew the lease.
Choose generic and store brand products. In some cases, you don't have to sacrifice quality when you switch to generic products from major labels for half the price or less. There may be some products where the variation is quality is unacceptable, but find the right compromise that works for you.
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Review your insurance policies. If you've built an emergency fund since establishing your insurance plans, take another look at your deductibles. You may be able to afford a different health, life, or auto insurance plan that reduces your premium payments. Keep in mind you want to be fully insured so you can handle unexpected problems.
If your employer isn't appreciating your hard work with financial rewards, take matters into your own hands. Give yourself an effective raise by focusing on your expenses and alternative income. Some smart choices will provide you with more cash flow than a raise without having to pay any additional income tax. By taking matters into your own hands, your financial health doesn't have to be tied to the whim of your boss or your boss's boss.
Luke Landes writes for Consumerism Commentary, where he encourages discussions about money and consumer issues. Consumerism Commentary regularly tracks and reviews the best online savings accounts and other financial products.