5 Ways to Get That 'Found-Money' Feeling (Without Asking Your Boss for a Raise)

Published on: Dec 16, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
A person at a computer with a credit cardDesign: theSkimm | Photo: iStock

Few things beat the feeling of finding money where there wasn’t any before. With a little planning, it could be a feeling you get a lot more often.

Psst...This guide about how to give yourself a raise is part of our How to Skimm Your Life New Year's Challenge. Go here to view all of our challenges and click "Day 10" to let us know if you completed this one.

Tell me the secret to finding more money.

Adjusting your withholding is like getting an instant raise. Your withholding = how much of each paycheck is reserved to cover your estimated taxes due in April. And you have some wiggle room when it comes to the exact amount. Hint: if you got a big tax refund this year, you might be withholding too much. While some people rely on their refund as a forced savings account or to cover their tax bill, withholding less means a bigger check every payday. Just fill out a new W-4 form and turn it into your HR department.

If you don't need that raise now to pay bills, you can save or invest that money throughout the year. That way, you have a chance to grow your money even more later.

Gimme, gimme more.

Here are four more ways to make sure you get paid.

1. Cash in on credit card rewards. If you've got 'em, use 'em. Turn your cash back into a statement credit toward your next bill. Or cash out to cover gifts or other expenses. And don't forget points that might've piled up on your travel credit card. Check their expiration dates. They may have been bumped back because of the pandemic. If any are going bad soon, you may be able to keep them current by just using your card. Then you can save your points to treat yourself later.

2. Make an extra debt payment. Whether it’s your student loan, car loan, mortgage, or credit card, making one extra payment now could help you get yourself months closer to payoff. Oh, and having a lower balance could also help pay less in interest overall.

3. Aim high (yield). If you keep extra money in a jar by the door or even a regular checking account, you’re missing out. A high-yield savings account can make your money work harder and help your dollars stand up (a little) to inflation. A high-yield savings account can earn up to 0.6%. Not much, but better than zero.

4. Feed your 401(k). Make sure you’re getting the most of your retirement accounts. If your job offers a 401(k) match, try to contribute at least enough to claim the full amount. That’s free money, please and thank you. If you can afford it, bump up your contributions by a couple percentage points now or the next time you get a raise. Increasing your savings by a little now could turn into bigger returns later, thanks to compounding interest. You probably won’t even miss it from your paycheck.

Any tips on how to make saving more a bit easier?

Set it and forget it. Most savings and investment accounts have the option to create an automatic, recurring deposit. This can help take the mental pain out of saving. Because if you don’t see the money move, you’ll miss it less. Just be sure you keep enough of a cash cushion so you don’t overdraft. Fees are the anti-raise.

theSkimm

Give Future You that found-money feeling every time they look at their savings and investment accounts. Because any little bit you can put in now means finding even more growing there later.

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Skimm'd by: Casey Bond, Liz Knueven, Kamaron McNair, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus