Category Archives: Money

5 Things You Should Do When You Get a Raise

You’ve worked hard, taken on extra responsibilities, and made sure to shine at every aspect of your job. It’s finally paid off and your boss let you know that you’ve been approved for the raise you’ve wanted for months. Your first instinct may be to start dreaming of all the things you can do with your money, but don’t rush out and sign a lease on a brand new car just yet. Naturally you want to enjoy your extra money, but you also don’t want to spend it so fast you hardly notice you ever got a raise. Instead do these things.

Review your tax withholding. Your raise might push you into a new bracket. Use the IRS’s online withholding calculator to see how much should be withheld from your paycheck based on your salary and exemptions. If you need to make changes, complete a new Form W-4 and give it to the right person in payroll or human resources. Otherwise, if you don’t adjust your withholding, you could end up with a tax bill when you file next year’s income tax return.

Don’t count your eggs just yet. A 5% raise might not really look like 5% on your paycheck, especially if you’ve had to adjust your tax withholding. Wait until you get your first paycheck so you can see how your pay really increased post-raise. Once you have a concrete idea of how your raise affects your take-home pay, then it’s safe to start making plans for your money.

Be careful about taking on extra expenses. A few extra hundred dollars in your paychecks makes you feel like you can say yes to anything. Premium cable channels? Go right ahead. Spa subscription? Why not? Another extracurricular for the kids? It will keep them busy. Watch out for lifestyle inflation, which can easily happen as you make more money. If you start taking on new expenses quickly, the extra money from your raise will be gone before you ever really get a chance to just enjoy having more money in your paycheck.

Increase your savings. Rather than spending your salary increase on more “things,” your raise will benefit you much more if you divert it to savings. If you’re comfortably living on your current salary, you won’t miss the extra money if you put it in your savings account. You can build up your emergency fund, maximize your retirement savings, or put money towards a summer vacation. You don’t have to put all the salary increase in your savings – you can split it 50-50 with another goal.

Use the extra money to pay off your debt. Move beyond minimum payments by putting some extra money towards your debt payments. Start by paying as much as you can towards your highest rate credit card and continue until all your cards are paid off. If you don’t have any credit card debt, consider putting extra payments toward your mortgage or car loan to pay these off ahead of time. Make sure you won’t face any prepayment penalties by paying before the scheduled date.

It may be awhile before you get another raise so maintain some financial freedom by avoiding too many new financial obligations.

10 Clever Tips to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Have you ever bought something only to feel the pangs of regret a few days later? You were experiencing buyer’s remorse, a feeling of regret or guilt after making a purchase. People think that buyer’s remorse only happens with expensive items like a home or car purchase, but any purchase carries the potential for regret. Here are some ways you can prevent it from happening to you.

Don’t buy on impulse. Unplanned purchases have the biggest risk of buyer’s remorse, but you’re less likely to experience these feelings if you take a day or two to think before making a purchase, especially a big purchase.

Weigh the pros and cons of the decision. Thinking through the reasons you should and should not make a purchase can prevent you from regretting the decision later. By the time you finally decide to make the purchase, you’ve already rationalized the downsides and accepted that the benefits outweigh the cost.

Evaluate less expensive alternatives. If you can find a lower-cost option, not only can you avoid regret, you also feel a sense of accomplishment by saving money. You might ultimately decide against the alternatives, but you’ve at least weighed your options and made an informed decision to go with the higher-priced product.

Consider the opportunity cost. Sometimes buyer’s remorse isn’t about the purchase you made, but the purchases you could have made if you hadn’t already spent the money. Before you buy, consider whether there’s something else you’d rather spend your money on.

Put it on a credit card with the most benefits. If you use a credit card for your purchase, pick the one with the best perks. Rewards give you a little something extra for your purchase. Perks like refund guarantee, purchase and price protection, or extended warranty may come in handy if you later regret your purchase.

Don’t buy the first model of a new product. Unless you’re an early adopter who likes to try new products, it’s probably better to wait until the second or third version of the product. That way, the manufacturers have a chance to work out the product kinks and you get a more reliable version of the product.

Read the reviews. It’s easier than ever to read reviews on products. Type the product name + review in a search engine and read through the good and bad reviews to get an idea of what other consumers think about the product.

Check your budget, savings, or credit limit before buying. Make sure you can afford the purchase before you proceed. Don’t empty your savings or emergency fund for a purchase – you’ll regret it if an emergency does crop up.

Buy for the right reasons. Make your purchase only because you want to and can see how it will benefit you, not because there’s a great offer, everyone else is buying, a salesperson pressured you, or you’re afraid of missing out.

Know your return options. You may not be able to avoid buyer’s remorse, but you at least want the option to return the product if you don’t like it – assuming it’s not a consumable product. Give more consideration to the purchases that are more difficult to take back.

If you’re not sure you should make a purchase, walk away, at least for now. Give yourself time to think through the decision and compare products. Wait until you feel good about the purchase before you make the buying commitment.

9 Steps to Take When a Company Treats You Unfairly

9 Steps to Take When a Company Treats You UnfairlyAs long as you do business with companies, there’s always a risk of being overcharged or being charged for products or services that were less than satisfactory. Fight back against these types of charges and get the company to fix their mistake.

Make sure there was really an error. Companies make mistakes, but so do we. Before you escalate the issue, confirm that there was actually an error and not an oversight on your part. For example, if you think a payment wasn’t applied correctly, verify with your bank that the payment was processed in the amount you suspect.

Don’t pay yet. The company may pay more attention to your complaint if you haven’t already sent payment. If you wait for your account to be corrected before paying, you don’t have to wait for a refund or credit to your account. With credit cards, you can only withhold the amount of the payment you’re disputing and only if you’ve disputed your billing error in writing.

Call and ask for the error to be corrected. Often, a simple phone call to customer service can help you get the error corrected. Start by calmly explaining the issue and why you believe there is an error. It helps to have your statement in front of you with the amount of the charge and the date it posted to your account.

Speak to a supervisor. If you have no success with the customer service representative you first speak with, ask for a supervisor. Sometimes the initial customer service representatives don’t have the authority or experience to solve your problem.

Threaten to cancel. Companies don’t want to lose your business and if they’re not initially willing to take a serious look at your issue, let them know you’re considering taking your business elsewhere. Don’t bluff. If they won’t fix your error, switch to another provider (especially if you can get a cheaper rate).

Complain on social media. Businesses realize the impact to their image if customers complain about them on social media. Try lodging a complaint on the company’s Facebok page or send a tweet with the company’s name or twitter handle. A company employee may directly message you to find out more about your issue.

Ask your bank to reverse the charges. If you’ve already paid and the company isn’t willing to work with you, contact your bank or credit card issuer to see if you can have the charges reversed.

Complain to an authority. You may not be able to get the company to correct the error, but you don’t have to go away quietly. Complain to the Better Business Bureau and your state Attorney General. If you’re dealing with a bank or another company in the financial sector, send a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Federal Trade Commission also takes complaints about scams and ripoffs, subscription services, and other consumer concerns.

Sue. Depending on the damages you’ve suffered, you may hire an attorney to sue the company if you can’t resolve the issue. Do an internet search to see if other consumers have also complained about that company. In some cases, there may already be a class action lawsuit that you can join to receive some compensation for the company error.

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