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   Your "Big Raise": How To Save Money  

The Big Boss beams down from above.  "I'm a changed man -- I'm ordering that all my employees receive an immediate hefty raise!" he enthuses.

"I like the new Ebenezer" you say in stunned amazement.  "What are you giving me?"

"Nothing -- it's something you'll give yourself" he weasels.

"A penny saved is a penny earned" was Ben Franklin's famous saying -- but he was only half right.  Why?  Because whatever you earn gets taxed in many different ways:  federal income taxes, the social security tax and state income taxes -- before you even spend it!  And when the money's actually spent, Americans pay sales tax almost everywhere.  And after your purchases, you still get hit with a property tax on your home, car license fees on your car, and capital gains taxes on your investments.  And then there are the hidden taxes.  The government taxes merchants in many ways that you may not even know about -- care to guess whether those merchants pass the cost on to you?  If you were a landlord would you allow the property tax to erase your profits, or might you pass most of it on to your renters?

A "penny earned" dwindles to less than a half-pence after taxes, so any money you save is really worth about twice as much!  Happily, there are four common-sense principles that you can use to save money and virtually give yourself a big raise:

1.  Resist buying stuff that you don't need.
2.  Use less of what you do need.
3.  Buy needed goods at lower prices.
4.  Use credit cards that will pay some of your money back.

Here are some easy tips that you can apply to the first three of these principles, so you'll have more money and more free time for optimal enjoyment of your life:

1.  Waiting or "wish list."  Instead of buying something you want right away, make it a rule to wait a week whenever possible.  Oftentimes it won't seem worthwhile then, or maybe in the meantime you'll think of something even better to buy.
2.  Working-time cost.  When you're thinking of buying something, ask yourself how long you would have to work to earn the money to purchase it.  Is it worth that much time?
3.  Price checking.  Can you buy it for less online (perhaps at eBay), or pre-owned, or from classified ads?  Could you rent or borrow it instead?
4.  Save receipts.  Put them in a box and after a month look back on what you bought.  What purchases weren't really worth it?
5.  Expense projection.  Estimate each of your monthly expenses, then project how much you could save over the coming years by lowering or eliminating them.  Thinking in terms of five-year periods can give you a new perspective.

(Next Gem: How To Find The Best "Reward Cards")

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