If you’ve ever spoken to a financial planner, he or she may discuss the topic of mental accounting. Most of us manage our budgets this way: we already know where most of our paycheck is going before we even receive it. When the check on the 15th arrives, it’s allocated to the cable bill, or the first-of-the-month check goes straight to the mortgage payment, for instance. Given that most of us have this method of managing money and we have little room in the budget for any additions, we rely on every cent of our paychecks.
To help us better budget and preserve our money, the theme behind most professional advice is to save, save, and save some more. Lower our grocery bills, spend less on gas, and all-in-all, don’t overspend. In spite of overwhelming data suggesting that we as a society spend too much, the problem continues to worsen. Since 1980, recreational expenses have more than doubled for middle-income Americans (according to The New York Times), and behaviors that used to be reserved for the wealthy — like buying a vacation home or a luxury car — are now becoming more common for middle earners.
Given that we are seemingly going to continue with some of the same spending habits, perhaps we should work toward increasing our take-home earnings. A large portion of our paycheck goes to federal, state, and local income taxes, as well as Social Security and medical insurance. Achieving the proper balance can increase your pay throughout the year while still providing enough health coverage and preventing a hefty bill during tax season. Here are three tips to increase your paycheck.