20 Ways to spend $20

If you draw a paycheck, you're due an extra $160 in January and February thanks to the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011.

What're you gonna do with your windfall? Maybe not much. It's pretty easy to miss $20 more in salary, especially if fixed expenses (groceries, insurance, child care, gasoline) keep going up.

Note: This is not a political column. I repeat: This is not a political column. I really don't care what you think about the payroll tax cut. Please keep all your #[email protected]!# dumb-o-crat policies or #[email protected]!# con-man-servative hatefulness comments until a later date. Like, um, never. Get Rich Slowly is a personal finance site, not a flame-throwing political forum. Thank you for not foaming.

Technically you have two choices: Save it or spend it. I'd like to suggest a third: Save it or spend it intentionally.

You could go out to lunch a couple of times each week. You could treat yourself to $20 worth of cupcakes or ceramic clowns from the dollar store. Or you could convince yourself that each double sawbuck represents an opportunity to improve your life.

Which it does — if you look at it the right way.

If someone offered you $160 in cash, you'd probably grab it. (And if you didn't, can I have yours?) But to some people, an “extra” $20 a week seems penny-ante.

Thanks to rampant ATM use, $20 bills have become the coin of the realm. I believe this has devalued them in the popular imagining — and there's no denying that $20 doesn't go very far these days.

True and Cumulative Costs

In particular, it doesn't go very far if we fail to pay attention to spending. We grab a soda and some chips when we go in to pay for gas. We add a magazine and a few packs of gum at the grocery checkout counter. We always get popcorn at the movies because, well, we just do, that's all.

It's only $3, or $5, or $7. Besides, we deserve it.

That's how some people get into trouble in the first place: By neglecting to frame expenses in terms of their true and cumulative costs. Dropping a few hundred dollars on a spur-of-the-moment weekend getaway is great fun at the time, but you may regret it if you can't pay the balance in full.

The money you spent (and continue to spend, in the form of credit card interest) also is cash that can no longer be used in a smarter way, such as retirement or a pay-cash-for-a-car fund.

Let me be clear: I am not saying that you can never have any of the things you want. In fact, I am learning — slowly! — to spend a little money on myself. So if you're in a position to drop that extra $20 per week on chai tea or sheet music, by all means drop it.

And if not? Make those temporary twenties work damned hard for you — and incidentally, their job might be to pay for something fun, such as frugal entertainment.

Pay It Down, or Pay It Forward

How can you put that money to work? Use it for the following:

  • Emergency fund. Not to belabor the obvious, but that $160 is a nice fund-plumper. And if you're brand new at this, the sum is nearly one-third of the $500 that Liz Weston says you need in the bank.
  • Retirement. Put the money into your Roth IRA or whatever other fund you have. (Don't have one? Let this be the seed money.)
  • College fund. Add an extra $160 to Junior's post-secondary plan.
  • Pay down debt. One hundred and sixty dollars = a nice debt snowflake.

Shopping, if you must:

  • Nonperishables. Flour, sugar, dry beans, tuna, rice, canned goods, pasta, your favorite cereals — and give yourself bonus points for buying on sale with coupons. Your grocery bill will drop a bit for the next month or two as you eat your way through the storehouse. And if something unexpected happens (illness, car repairs, job loss), you'll congratulate yourself on having a well-stocked pantry.
  • Pet supplies. When you see a screamin' deal on food or litter at PetSmart or PETCO, stock up. Improve the sale price by paying with plastic scrip from a discounted gift card site.
  • Cut-rate couture. Watch for end-of-season sales on wardrobe basics you know to be durable and comfortable. You might not have to buy work slacks for a year or two. Or browse a thrift store or consignment shop — again, looking for clothing that's well-made and flattering. What fun to see how far a $20 bill will go, especially on 50-Cent Day. (I'm referring to the price tag, not the rap star.)
  • Shoes. Use price-comparison and cash-back sites as noted above to find sale prices on your favorite make and model. I recently ordered three pairs of my favorite old-lady comforts for about $153 (minus the nearly $11 cash-back rebate).
  • Socks and undies. Bor-ing? You betcha. But elastic isn't forever and your socks will eventually develop holes. When crew socks and tighty-whities go on sale, buy half a dozen or more of each.

For the health of it:

  • New glasses/contacts. Still squinting through those three-year-old specs? Discount eyewear emporia regularly offer coupons in newspapers and Valpak envelopes, and through online coupon sites like Savings.com and Retail Me Not. Oh, and stock up on contact lens solution when it goes on sale.
  • Vitamins. Aim for a three- or six-month stash of your favorite supplements. Use a price comparison website like Price Grabber or Cheap Uncle to find the best deals, and see if the lowest-priced merchant can be accessed through a cash-back shopping site like Mr. Rebates, Extrabux or FatWallet.
  • OTC meds. Restock your medicine cabinet with analgesics, bandages, antibacterial ointments, allergy meds and the like. You may be able to get these free or nearly so by combing coupons and rebates.
  • Dental work. Don't have dental insurance? Me neither. But I regularly see social commerce vouchers and Valpak coupons for X-rays and cleanings. They cost $30 or less. A professional cleaning and a big-picture look at incipient problems may even save your life.

That's entertainment:

  • Discounted movie tickets. Warehouse clubs sell them. However, you might get a much better deal through — yep — a discounted gift card site.
  • Annual pass. Museums, zoos, botanical gardens, opera, the orchestra — whatever floats your boat.
  • The Entertainment Book. It's full of BOGOs for city attractions from art to boat tours. Buy it through a cash-back site for a rebate of up to 35% plus free shipping.
  • Condoms. Go ahead and snicker. But not having protection can be pretty damned expensive in the long run. I know a couple whose second child is on planet Earth because “we were out of birth control and decided to take a chance.” No, I couldn't believe it, either.

Thinking ahead:

  • Warehouse club membership. Even studio dwellers might be able to buy in bulk if they're creative about storage.
  • Go green. Replace some incandescent bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs and trim your electric bill. Faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads reduce both energy and water/sewer bills. If the commode in your abode is really old, consider a water-saving toilet.
  • Car care. Watch for sales on fluids (antifreeze, windshield washer, a case of motor oil, et al.), filters and replacement wiper blades. If your tires have receding treadlines watch for sales on those, too. (Don't forget Craigslist. A friend bought four high-quality, nearly new tires for $100.)

Ant or Grasshopper?

The grasshopper generally has a swell summer: long days at the beach, trips to amusement parks, ice cream for breakfast. Meanwhile, the ant is weeding the garden, clipping coupons and hanging all his laundry to dry outside.

Once the temperature drops, the grasshopper is likely to regret his profligacy. The ant, meanwhile, has a storeroom full of pinto beans and tube socks. All the windows have been caulked, too.

Of course, it's your money and therefore your decision. But try thinking of your $160 in ways like these:

  • One night at a nice hotel, or an extra chunk of fundage into your Roth. (Oh, compound interest, I've missed you so! Let's never fight again!)
  • A couple of months' worth of cable vs. new glasses. (What good is TV anyway if you can't see it?)
  • Dinner for two at a nice restaurant, or some depth to your pantry.

One more suggestion: Split the difference. Get yourself $80 worth of truffles and apps and $80 worth of something less than sexy but ultimately beneficial, such as cat litter or dental X-rays. Even $40 will pay for a fair amount of decadence, especially if you use a coupon.

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John
John
8 years ago

It isn’t going to seem like “extra” money, since we’ve already gotten used to it being in our paychecks.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  John

Though since they didn’t pass the extension fast enough for some large companies (like state universities, for example) to adjust payroll, some of us had an unpleasant drop in our last paychecks.

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago
Reply to  John

Yes, this is a continuation of withholding policy already in place. For most people, January’s paychecks will not differ from December’s.

Even though the “hook” around which this article is based is invalid, the general points discussed are, as is usually the case with Donna, well worth reading and thinking about.

Allie
Allie
8 years ago
Reply to  John

Not if we shunted it directly into deferred comp as soon as the cut took effect last year…

Jon
Jon
8 years ago

When the payroll tax cut was first put into place, I increased my contribution to my 401K plan at work by 2%. I’m going to leave that in place this year, probably even after the payroll tax cut expires.

Susan
Susan
8 years ago
Reply to  Jon

That’s what I did as well. When we first got this tax break, I opened up an ING account and I have the money moved directly from my paycheck. I’ve built up a nice little emergency fund from it.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Yay emergency funds! I wonder how many people did this — and more to the point, how many will continue to do it even after Feb. 29. In an MSN Money article I did about sneaky ways to increase your savings, one woman said that every time she gets a raise she increases her automatic savings to match it. Her theory was that if she was managing OK on what she currently made, the raise was just gravy. It effectively prevented lifestyle creep. Another person interviewed for that article said his automated savings began with one hour’s salary per week.… Read more »

Kathy
Kathy
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Before stopping my previous work in the US, I used to save the extra money I received from annual salary increases and never missed the money. I would also slightly increase the amount I transferred to my parents’ account every month for their upkeep. I now have a new job and plan on continuing the tradition of having an emergency account. I actually opened a new account just an hour ago in which I will be saving a bit every month and increase the amount when I get an increment. I just love having an emergency fund.

Rosa+Rugosa
Rosa+Rugosa
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Same here – didn’t want to get use to making more than I make, and figured saving it couldn’t hurt. Appreciate the reminder though that this is a finite thing.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Rosa+Rugosa

Having the account established might spur you to find ways to adjust your expenses downward slightly, in order to allow the savings to continue. Good luck!

Susan+Fillippeli
Susan+Fillippeli
8 years ago
Reply to  Jon

That’s what I did as well. I plan to keep that 2% going to my 401K even if it is eventually repealed, but my inclination was to save the tax cut.

Brian
Brian
8 years ago

Wow, you forgot to mention you need to make $100,000/year to qualify. Good article anyway on how to choose to spend, though.

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Huh?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Becka

It’s a 2% payroll tax cut, not a fixed amount, so not everyone is getting these mythical $20/$160.

Also since the payroll is split between employer and employee you only get 1% back, your employer gets the other 1%, no? [EDIT: NO, SORRY, I CHECKED, IT’S 2% ON THE EMPLOYEE’S END. MY BAD]

@$110K/year wich is the max to be eligible you get 2% of your monthly $9,116 (or so), $182 or so a month.

People who earn less are seeing a lot less than $160 “extra”. I know we do (wife has part time job).

Becka
Becka
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

That part I understand. I’m just not sure where the “you have to earn $100k” comment is coming from.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Yeah he’s wrong in the “qualify”. Actually if you earn over $9K/month (they put it at $18K in the 2-month pay period) they start a 2% “recapture” (tax increase) that I haven’t bothered to understand because it doesn’t apply to me… but it’s all there in Donna’s link article from the IRS.

Marsha
Marsha
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I was initially confused about the $20 per week/$160 for two months used in the article, because that made it seem as though it was a flat amount per worker. But it’s 2% of pay, as long as the pay is below some upper limit, so a person making $1000 per week (or $52000 a year) would get an extra $20. I think Donna’s just using the amount an average worker would get.

Sara
Sara
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Oh man, I didn’t know about the recapture provision. That’s so frustrating — we are getting our 2011 bonuses paid in January 2012, so thanks gov’t 🙁

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Got an email about the 2013 tax thing today. It looks complicated.

Well Heeled Blog
Well Heeled Blog
8 years ago

I don’t really think of the $20 per paycheck as extra money, and like John said, it’s money that we’ve already gotten used to from last year. But you are right, $160 isn’t exactly chump change. I have to say though, that $160 spread over 8 weeks is awefully easy to miss.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

I agree that it’s easy to miss — which was why I said so, in the second paragraph.
The whole point is to pay ATTENTION to it, and make it work for you, instead of turning into a pizza and a movie.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Not that there’s anything wrong with strategic pizza!

I’m going to go to Chicago and I’m going to order me up:

Lou’s Crustless Pizza
Lou’s offers a gluten-free “crustless” pizza for those people who are gluten-intolerant or watching their carbohydrate intake. The “crustless” pizza is made from our lean sausage as the base, and then topped with our fresh mozzarella cheese and zesty tomato sauce. Of course you can customize it to your taste by adding any of Lou’s other fresh ingredients.

Joyeaux.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Strategic gluten-free pizza is as important as the crusty kind.

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars
8 years ago

I like the point about $20 bills being the common “coin of the realm”. I’ve even heard of them referred to as yuppy food stamps. Everyone will save their change or even their 1’s, but $20’s are for spending dag nabbit! When obviously making the choice to save or consciously spend that $20, has significantly more impact than your pocket change.

Maybe we should start thinking about $20 as a lot of money again.

Diane
Diane
8 years ago

I agree that the $20 bill has some how lost its significance. It certainly doesn’t buy as much as it used to. But save that weekly and it’s over $1,000 in one year! Not bad.

I recently met someone whose young adult daughter saves every $5 she gets. Interesting idea.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Diane

I’ve heard of those $5 challenges. Some people do them with all the dollar bills in their wallets at the end of each day.
Sure adds up faster than pocket change.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

Good points — especially about twenties being the “currency of the realm”. Twenty dollars may not seem like much when you’re earning it, but lose that much per pay check and that’s a whole other story.

I just found out I’m in for a $25/month rent increase this spring, and here in Canada our CPP and EI contributions increased as of January 1. (In other words, the government will be taking more out of our pay checks.)

Groan.

Amy
Amy
8 years ago

*emerges from under rock* what is this extra $20 you speak of in our paychecks? Wow I’ve not been paying attention. Does it start this year? Or, as some have implied in the comments, did it start last year? I am confused.
I’ll review my paycheck stub carefully and see how I can wrangle this ‘extra’ money into benefitting me.

Debbie
Debbie
8 years ago

wow… I got as far as the “NOTE” and stopped reading.

Melanie
Melanie
8 years ago
Reply to  Debbie

Ditto

Kristen
Kristen
8 years ago

The condom comment cracked me up, but boy is it true!

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 years ago

This is why I much prefer my money viewpoint of saving whatever isn’t spent. My goal is saving (for investment) and I’ve got a general aversion to spending impulsively, and as a result having an extra $160 is meaningless as far as my spending goes. Heck, a $10,000 windfall wouldn’t cause a blip in my spending habits – it all goes directly into my checking account until I find something to invest in.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

YES.

LauraElle
LauraElle
8 years ago

Can someone recommend a good discount gift card site? I love to get gift cards for movies, the bookstore, ect. when I have a few extra bucks and then save them for later, when I’m not so flush.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  LauraElle

My suggestion: Go to GiftCardGranny.com and look for the “buy gift cards” section. Type in the names of the cards you want to buy. You’ll be given a list of what different sites are offering. A couple of these secondary-market sites can be accessed through those cash-back shopping sites like Mr. Rebates, Fat Wallet and Ebates. In other words, you buy the discounted gift card and get an additional 1% or more back from the cash-back site. Definitely start at Gift Card Granny, though. (And nope, I’m not paid to say that. It’s just a clearinghouse. I start there myself… Read more »

Kurt
Kurt
8 years ago

To avoid spending the ‘extra’ money, how about setting up an automatic payroll deduction with your bank (or, I like Jon’s excellent suggestion, have the money go directly to a 401k). Then take it a step further. If you consistently get sizable tax refunds, add to the auto-deduction by making an adjustment in your withholding by revising your W-4 form filed with your employer. Instead of paying Uncle Sam $50 (for example) too much every pay period and letting him keep your money over the course of the year, put $50 directly into your savings account by automatic deduction from… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago

Note: This is not a political column. I repeat: This is not a political column. I really don’t care what you think about the payroll tax cut. Please keep all your “#[email protected]!# dumb-o-crat policies” or “#[email protected]!# con-man-servative hatefulness” comments until a later date. Like, um, never. Get Rich Slowly is a personal finance site, not a flame-throwing political forum. Thank you for not foaming See, this is the kind of statement that makes me WANT TO do precisely the opposite. Now let me think of 20 Ways to Foam at the Mouth… hmmmm…. 1. Dear Government, here are my $20… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

You’re free to think whatever you want, here or anywhere else. Freedom of speech, on the other hand, is a *public* right. Private individuals aren’t required to grant it. You’re not actually making public speech here, you’re using a private site furnished by someone else. So yes, the site owners and their contractors do have a right to ask people not to waste everyone’s time with political commentary, a.k.a. opinion, in a forum devoted to improving people’s lives through better personal finance. The NOTE may have been overstated, but IMO it’s perfectly valid. There are plenty of places to pick… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  chacha1

Yeah, I get that GRS is a private business with the right to establish it’s own policies, but the convent school approach is bound to backfire in the freewheeling atmosphere of the interwebs. And asking people to refrain from politics is in itself political, so it’s a bit of a contradiction in itself to make such a statement in the first place. Since it can’t be avoided, much better would be to simply ask for civility in the discussion, or to let the discussion sort itself out (e.g., “nice point, comrade, but that’s not relevant to the subject”). Now to… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Speaking as a non-U.S. resident here, I’m happy to be spared the political rants.

I think Donna’s note was trying to be funny, but it came across as angry and condescending to me. (Sorry, Donna!) As soon as anyone implies profanity and says “I don’t care what you think…” I feel like I’m reading a rant rather than a valid point. Funny how one interjection can set the tone for the whole piece.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Please feel free to put your politics anywhere you like. It’s just that I’ve seen soooo many comments sections deteriorate into political rants (on either side) and then name-calling and vitriol and pretty soon everyone forgets what the original point was.
I was hoping to get suggestions for other creative ways to spend/save/invest the $20 (or whatever it happens to be), rather than left/right slapfights.
Didn’t mean to sound condescending and angry, just world-weary. Guess my weltschmerz typeface was on the blink.

Tania
Tania
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I usually appreciate your comments, El Nerdo, but your use of “Donna dear, …” is downright patronising.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Tania

Oh, sorry. I really like and respect Donna. She’s probably my favorite writer here. I was just being a smartass… on *cough* purpose *cough* of course *cough*.

Conmanservative
Conmanservative
8 years ago

Great comment El Nerdo! Lol “dumbocrat” v “conmanservative” Gotta love it..BTW…here’s some more ideas for that $20:

1. Donate to the politcal cause that excites you and will move the country forward in 2012.

2. Donate to your church or place of religious belief

3. Keep the $20 as “chump change” to help out someone who asks you…

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

All good ideas. Thanks!

Russell
Russell
8 years ago

I will never regret ice cream for breakfast!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Russell

I told one of my nephews that a great thing about being an adult is that you can have ice cream for breakfast.
His eyes got big. “DO you?”
“Not really,” I said. “I always have oatmeal. but I know that I *could* have ice cream if I wanted it.”
(I will, however, cop to having had Christmas cookies for breakfast a few times.)

Panda
Panda
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

I have oatmeal with ice cream.

But then I was allowed that periodically as a kid too.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Panda

I prefer ice cream with waffles. It is so good that I don’t have it too often or I’d eat myself into the ICU.

LennStar
LennStar
8 years ago

I always say: Go, buy yourself a book! It’s fun going through the shops, have a look into different books and of course, reading them is quite good, too. Gives you many hours of pleasure and you can always give the book to charity or sell it, if you don’t want to read it twice. (For that matter: Cory Doctorow makes it possible to buy one book for you and one for people who need it, schools or the like. I really like that. Consider it yourself.) Of course, that is only real fun for people who love this site:… Read more »

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
8 years ago
Reply to  LennStar

A person after my own heart! I always use extra money to buy books, although, thanks to my new found love of the library, that’s not *quite* the case anymore.

Greg Miliates
Greg Miliates
8 years ago

There’s another way to both spend AND invest money: use it to fund your business. While $80 or $160 may not sound like much, it actually is enough to start a business, so long as you don’t fall for a multi-level-marketing scheme/scam. There are tons of free and low-cost tools available to help you start & run a business (I have a whole page devoted to them on my blog). And if you start the kind of business that doesn’t require a ton of capital outlay, it’s totally possible to turn that $80 or $160 into much more–and even change… Read more »

jack foley
jack foley
8 years ago

Classic about the couple being out of birth control..

There are some things you just can’t be frugal about…

Classic..

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
8 years ago
Reply to  jack foley

I agree! I had a friend call me in a panic once because the condom broke. I told her to go get plan B. She said she didn’t want to spend the money. I said, “but you want to spend 15 thousand times more money on a baby?!”

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

One of the best birth-control ads I ever saw had a picture of a condom and the slogan, “If you think THIS is hard to put on…”
and then a picture of a disposable diaper and the words “…then try THIS.”
So true.

Doug
Doug
8 years ago

Further to Greg’s point, I believe Chris Guillebeau is launching a new book this year called the The $100 Business (or something like that).

It’s so true though. Even $5 can make great strides in your business. Take a look at fiverr.com and find someone to help you get started.

It’s not that hard to make a difference today.

Take 20 seconds of insane courage and do it.

Sonja
Sonja
8 years ago

I just like to iterate the point about the dentist. YES! Do this! Not only because of some far away possibility of heartproblems in the future. But also, because it can be a very severe threath to your health on the short term. When I was 25 I had a toothache, but no money for the dentist, so just ignored it. It developed itself into an infection that got into my blood (infection do that!). And from there I got a septic shock = not good. I’ve spend a week in the intensive care fighting for my live with a… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Sonja

There’s some indication that chronic gingivitis can lead to heart issues as well.
One of my aunts was low-grade sick for months and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Turned out to be dental abscesses.

Laura+Vanderkam
Laura+Vanderkam
8 years ago

I love the idea of spending the $20 mindfully. Ask yourself, how could I spend this $20 in a way that would maximize my happiness? I think treating a close friend to lunch is likely near the top on that list. First, you get lunch with a friend, thus nurturing your social ties (critical for happiness). And second, she’ll probably treat you back soon. So you double the impact!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

I agree! While I’m not in the U.S. and therefore don’t get this extra money, the take away message works no matter what the reason. In the past, I’ve been good at minding the increases, but I haven’t been so mindful with the money I’ve been saving. I didn’t realize it until I finished paying off my student loan and had to decide what to do with the extra cash now freed up in my budget. In the meantime, I’ve missed a lot of little things — like the $5/month I saved on long distance and the extra $20/month I… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

And if you used a BOGO you could take your friend to lunch *two* times. 🙂

Brenton
Brenton
8 years ago

The Note is a little disturbing to me. We should be encouraging civil discussion of public policies, not throwing a hissy fit because your topic was derailed.

Id like to know if Donna added that, or April, or JD.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

Hey, Brenton. Though I sympathize with the note (and have written similar notes in the past), it’s not how I would have written it.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

So instead we’re derailing the topic by talking about the note. 😉

The warning reminded me of a teacher yelling at the whole class because a couple of students were talking. While it didn’t stop me from reading the post, it did distract from the lesson.

I think the point could have been made in two sentences — i.e. “This post isn’t about politics. Let’s discuss the topic at hand and leave debating government policies for another time.”

Brenton
Brenton
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Or you know, let people discuss the topic they want so long as they arent being a-holes about it.

Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey
Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey
8 years ago

I’d spend $15 on a Djembe drumming class, and pocket the extra $5.

SwampWoman
SwampWoman
8 years ago

*sigh* Yeah, the 2% payroll tax cut was temporarily extended, but I had a 3% pay cut last year (and probably more this year). When the payroll tax cut ends, as it must, then it will seem as though I had a 5% pay cut.

I need to concentrate on finding a second job or starting (another) small business.

krish02
krish02
8 years ago

My payroll tax cut is already spent. My health insurance premium has just jumped $68 per month. Can’t wait to rework my budget. Ugh!

BradB
BradB
8 years ago

So many good strategies and things to get the old brain thinking in ways some people just might miss.
Love the idea of the gradual build of the emergency fund by starting with 1 hour of pay per week and growing from there. Something simple and attainable for most people.

Dee
Dee
8 years ago

I don’t understand this “continuation” business. I have not yet seen any jump in my funds from what I was making in January of last year. From what I’ve read elsewhere, I can expect to see a small bump in pay starting next paycheck. I hope this is true; that $160-ish will be a big help paying off some small debt. Thanks so much for this article, Donna; as far as politics go, I’d been focusing exclusively on two other bills and had not paid attention to the Payroll Tax Cut topic. I had no idea it could benefit me,… Read more »

Jenzer
Jenzer
8 years ago

Here’s what $20 bills are doing in one of our local communities:

http://heritage.com/articles/2012/01/03/chelsea_standard/news/doc4f0365bb95ca7867804276.txt

Dallas saver
Dallas saver
8 years ago

after that terrible christmas fire, I just spent $80 on CO monitors for my house. something that was not really on the radar before but could be a lifesaver.

Christine
Christine
8 years ago

I read the IRS announcement to mean our paychecks will not decrease from 2011 rates until the tax rate reverts back to its pre-2011 % at end of February, not that we would have extra money compared to 2011 for two months.

To put it very simply, if monthly take-home pay in 2011 was $100, and all other factors constant, we continue to get $100 a month in Jan and Feb 2012, and then we get $98/month beginning in March. (Crude math, not intended to be precise).

partgypsy
partgypsy
8 years ago

Hmm, since the payroll taxcut is set to expire in Feb, seems like the better column would be how to adjust one’s budget to accomodate the 2% less coming in?

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago

Hey Donna, I’m the schmoe who got used to spending the extra money and now I feel a little sick to realize that it’s $160 of real money over 2 months. And this ends in February right? I hope you’re already working on your next column – 20 ways to save 20 Bucks.

Congrats on grannyhood!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Mom of five

Thank you! I’m smiling.

amanda
amanda
8 years ago

One of the ideas I had was to buy some crafting supplies and start making stuff to sell on ebay or etsy, or make 2012 christmas gifts for my friends and family. That way my initial 20$ investment makes me more money in the long run.

One good way to spend money is to buy crafty things made on etsy or ebay. 😛

Thanks for the great ideas!

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