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“Everyday Cheapskate”

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 11:11 am

Easy ways to boost your income

SYNDICATED COLUMNIST

everyday cheapskate - mary huntmary hunt

Of all the people I know and love, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t welcome a small income boost this month — or any month, for that matter. Whether you’re between jobs, figuring out how to cover a bill or hoping to stash more cash into savings, get your creative juices flowing with these ideas.

DON’T OVERINSURE. You need term life insurance. The recommended is 8 to 10 times the annual income of the single breadwinner; in a two-income family, insure each spouse for 6 to 8 times their annual gross salary. But you can confidently cancel duplicate coverage.

The boost: Add up what you’re paying for credit card insurance, life insurance for your kids, mortgage insurance and accident insurance. What was offered to you for just pennies a day is probably about $100 a month, or more, that you will save.

Caution: Get a term life policy first if you don’t have one, then cancel the duplicates. Don’t leave even the tiniest gap between coverage.

CALL YOUR AUTO INSURER. Has your teenage driver brought home a great report card? Most auto insurance companies will knock about 10 percent off your premium if an insured teen maintains a 3.0 GPA. Is there an educator in the family? Mercury Insurance and other companies give discounts to credentialed teachers and educational administrators. Discounts also apply if you have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a science-related field. Finally, insurers often give discounts of 20 percent or more when you insure all of your cars with one company.

Caution: Don’t assume that discounts are automatic — you have to speak up. Ask to see a complete list, since companies offer different ones.

The boost: Compound discounts can really add up for a big save.

FATTEN YOUR PAYCHECK. If you receive a tax refund, rethink your initial urge to spend it. Save those bucks. Another way to look at it: You’re giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. To have less withheld from your paychecks, file a new W-4 with your employer and increase your number of allowances.

Caution: Don’t over-adjust your W-4, or you could end up owing the IRS next year. Pull out your last federal tax return for reference, and go to the IRS website to calculate how many allowances you should.

The boost: If you’re getting a $2,000 tax refund, adjusting your withholding for next year will increase your net income by about $163 each month.

MOONLIGHT. Taking a second job at a craft store made all the difference for one of my readers, Kathryn. “It was challenging to go to my second job, but I boosted our income enough to get us through a rough patch,” says Kathryn. Typically, the food service industry, drugstores and retail stores offer part-time work.

Caution: Unless you’ve suffered a loss of income, taking on a second job could push you into a higher tax bracket. Run the numbers before moving forward.

The boost: Your earnings depend on the jobs available. Kathryn worked 10- to 20 hours a week at her second job, earning just over minimum wage per hour. This increased their household income by up to $400 monthly.

FREELANCE. There are three websites you should visit to get a feel for a freelance gig that fits your talents and skills. Upwork an online freelancing platform where small businesses connect with qualified professionals. If you are a writer, programmer, graphic designer, marketer or have other skills to offer, you can bid on jobs and be contracted for doing what you do best. Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services beginning at $5 per job performed — from which the company gets its name. TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to others in their neighborhood. Users name the task and price they are willing to pay, and pre-approved contractors bid to win the job. Think of TaskRabbit is as eBay for real-world labor. The Internet is filled with reputable freelance companies in a multitude of industries.

Caution: Make sure your daytime employer has no restrictions on freelancing.

The Boost: Jobs at Upwork vary and can pay up to $500 per project for writers and $1,000 per project for programmers. Fiverr and TaskRabbit vary; Check them out for more information.