9 Ways to Boost Your Paycheck Without Asking for a Raise
So, you need more money. Who doesn’t?
In a perfect world, you’d get it without even having to ask. Your boss would give you a pay increase, say, every three months. And you’d always be able to afford the nice and shiny things you like.
Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case — most people don’t even get raises every six months.
Let’s talk about making do with what you have. For all the major financial buckets in your life, there’s a chance you’re overpaying.
If your money is going everywhere but where you’d like it to, it’s time to trim the fat.
Make Your Money Work for You — Not the Other Way Around
You spend enough time earning money at your j-o-b, so why not let your money do some of the work? Here are some ways to get more from your paycheck without asking for a raise.
1. Take 2 Minutes to Save Yourself Thousands of Dollars
Your credit score is important. The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.
Even if you’re not buying a house anytime soon, a lousy credit score means you’ll get hit with a high security deposit whenever you rent a car or move into a new apartment.
Did you know your credit score could be inaccurate? One out of five credit reports have an error, according to a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission.
To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it.
Because it simplifies everything, you should be able to spot any errors. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card that you know you paid, or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score.
James Cooper, a motivational speaker, raised his credit score 277 points using Credit Sesame. Now he talks to high school students about the importance of having good credit and uses what he’s learned through Credit Sesame as a blueprint for his lessons.
“We want to touch the Z Generation,” Cooper says “We’re not in the business of fixing credit. We want to get to you before you have to fix your credit.”
Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.*
Trimming the fat happens in several ways. When it comes to your credit, you want to trim your debt fat now so you can stand to pick some up when the time is right.
2. Lower Your Interest Rates to Make More of Your Debt Payments
Got debt? Us, too.
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look. After all, if you’re paying it down, your payments should count in ways that benefit you, too.
That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest.
Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.
If your credit score is at least 620, you can borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.
Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $12,000 in credit-card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $12,000 in interest.
If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.
So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.
3. Discover Your Hidden Money
Budgeting… ew, gross. We know. But it’s important to take a good look at what you’re spending and understand where you can cut back — even for bills you think are nonnegotiable.
An easy way to automate this process is to use Trim. It’s a little bot that’ll keep track of all your transactions, plus it negotiates your cable or internet bills down for you. It’s free to sign up.
Track your spending: Connect your checking account, credit card and savings account for a big-picture look at your spending habits. Then, take a closer look by checking out each of your transactions. Set alerts that’ll let you know when bills are due, when you’ve hit a spending cap or when you’ve (hopefully not) overdrafted.
Negotiate your bills: Just upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money. It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers. Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you. Trim takes 33% of the savings tab, and you get the rest.
By keeping an eye on your money, and breaking up with services you don’t use, you’re on your way to creating more space in your budget for the things that matter to you. Easy, right?
4. Find out Whether You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance
You’re probably overpaying for car insurance. And how would you know, really?
Have you shopped around lately? Have you compared rates from the 20 largest auto insurers that do business in your area? That sounds kind of difficult and time-consuming, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work.
Once you link your insurance account to Gabi, it will:
- Scan your existing insurance plan.
- Analyze what coverage you have.
- Compare the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage.
- Help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.
It’s a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.
Gabi says it finds an average savings of $720 per year for its customers — even though your income didn’t change, you could still enjoy some extra cash in your pocket.
5. Protect Your Home Without Overspending
Aaah, your humble abode. The thing you really can’t do without.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you might be paying too much for it. Try shopping around.
If you’ve never looked into it, start by getting a free quote. We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $5 a month and homeowners insurance starts at $25 a month.
Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.
Lemonade is available in Arizona, California, Connecticut Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
It’s easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. Plus, at the end of the day, you’ll feel better knowing your hard-earned belongings are insured without the hefty price tag to match.
6. Save Money on Nearly Everything (Without Clipping a Coupon)
You have to eat. There’s no way around that. And for the other kinds of shopping, well, sometimes you have to do that, too.
Check out these apps that help you do both without breaking the bank, and you’ll score some cash back while you’re at it:
- Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts. Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes. It’s free to download, and you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
- Ebates is a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash back on online purchases at Walmart. Plus, you’ll get a free $10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.
- Paribus is a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.
Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.
7. Grow Your Digital Change (and Get a $5 Bonus)
It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money. Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.
But these apps are different.
If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.
You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account. Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
Acorns is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
The Stash app curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money — but it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it.
You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
You won’t get to your dream (financial) destination overnight, but sometimes your money has to take the scenic route. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus when you enter the code PENNYH.
8. Invest in Real Estate (No, It’s Not Just for Millionaires)
Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.
Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. A company called Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.
This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).
(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)
You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.
9. Optimize Your 401(k) Like a Pro
You have a 401(k) — kudos for that. But like your paycheck, are you getting what you need out of it?
If you’re like most people, you have no idea whether your 401(k) is on pace for your retirement or just sputtering along.
Chances are, your 401(k) could be doing a lot better. Take control with help from Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that can optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you and keep it speeding toward retirement.
It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.
After that, if you sign up, it’s just $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get the first month free with the code PNNYHRD.
Think of Blooom like a mechanic constantly fine-tuning your car’s engine so it gives you the best possible performance and gas mileage. Except it’s your 401(k) — and your future.
Look at You, Boosting Away!
Who needs a raise? Well, most of us, but isn’t it nice to know that you can do well even without one? Your money will go as far as you let it. Now you know exactly how to take it where you want it to be — all on your own.
*Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
Farrah Daniel is an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder. Catch up on her latest stories here.