Planning for Success: Verify Paycheck Deductions – Day 26

Planning for success - Day 26

Photograph Credit: iStockphoto

Knowing that a successful year will not materialize on its own, we must plan and prepare for a prosperous 2013.

Throughout the 31 days of January, I will choose one topic each day to prepare or schedule for this year.

Without preparation, I know I will forget, miss, or overlook certain items. If you desire an organized year, then join me in this adventure of Planning for Success for a prosperous 2013.

To receive a daily e-mail around 11:00 a.m. with the new posts of each day, subscribe to my free daily newsletter. In case you miss a post in this series, I will provide the link to each day as the month progresses. 🙂

Day 26: Verify Paycheck Deductions

In last week’s Planning for Success: Post Your Payday Schedule – Day 19, I shared how I indicate “payday and tithe (charitable contribution)” on my calendar for the scheduled day of our direct deposit. When paying the bills, I verify the paycheck deductions.

Taking less than a minute to confirm that the deductions are correct, I file the paycheck and move on. Three times a year, I take a little longer to check the amounts: first paycheck enforcing new deductions, first paycheck after changes or increases, and first paycheck after start of fiscal year.

1. First paycheck enforcing new deductions

For us, we have open or annual enrollment in October. Those changes take effect on January 1. The first paycheck stub we receive in January gets extra attention to confirm accurate deductions. If a problem arises, then we make contact with the payroll department.

2. First paycheck after changes or increases

The riders on Paul’s short-term disability insurance policy and our family’s critical illness and cancer protection policy increase each year during February. When I see an increase in deductions, I take a few moments to confirm the increased amounts based on the policy schedule. If I notice a discrepancy, I contact the policy providers to address my concerns.

3. First paycheck after start of fiscal year

Since my husband’s employer’s fiscal year does not begin in January, I review the paycheck stub more closely after the start of the new fiscal year. Any changes to retirement savings or raises adjust at that time. Any questions or concerns from that information are directed to the payroll department.

In planning for success, verify paycheck deductions by monitoring them each pay period. The investment of a little time twice a month saves time when doing taxes. If all the information is correct throughout the year, then no verification of the W-2 form is needed at tax time.

A few years ago, an employee did not look at her paycheck sub all year as her check was directly deposited into her bank account. At tax time, she panicked at the realization that none of her taxes had been paid the previous year. Had she verified her paycheck stub at least at the start of the year, she could have caught the error without backtracking.

After verifying Paul’s paycheck stub, I check off the payday notation in my calendar. Using this system reminds me to verify the information and check the deductions carefully preventing unnecessary problems later. Keep scheduling your paydays (as much as you can) while preparing for success and using time wisely. Happy verifying!

Question: How often do you verify paycheck stub deductions?

Planning for Success: Post Your Payday Schedule – Day 19

Planning for success - Day 19

Photograph Credit: iStockphoto

Knowing that a successful year will not materialize on its own, we must plan and prepare for a prosperous 2013.

Throughout the 31 days of January, I will choose one topic each day to prepare or schedule for this year.

Without preparation, I know I will forget, miss, or overlook certain items. If you desire an organized year, then join me in this adventure of Planning for Success for a prosperous 2013.

To receive a daily e-mail around 11:00 a.m. with the new posts of each day, subscribe to my free daily newsletter. In case you miss a post in this series, I will provide the link to each day as the month progresses. 🙂

Day 19: Post Your Payday Schedule

Stretching our dollars is becoming a necessity in light of the economic changes this year. Between the squeeze on businesses with the health insurance increases due to Obamacare and the 2% increase in FICA (returning Social Security taxes to 6.2% from the tax reduction 4.2% rate in 2011 and 2012), families are feeling the crunch, mine included.

Many families are already struggling and taking more from their paychecks leaves them feeling stressed, discontent, and worried. To reign in these anxious feelings, we need to trust God for He is in control and then focus on what we can change.

Modified Monthly Budget

With the money earned, we can adjust our spending to work within the parameters of these additional tax measures. Working with a monthly budget, you can track your spending.

Though I do not use a dollar by dollar budget where every penny requires designation, I record our spending on my 2013 Bill Pay Record as I submit payments and then insert receipt information into our savings tracker.

FREE PRINTABLE

2013 Bill Pay Record (.pdf version)

2013 Bill Pay Record (Microsoft Excel version)

Planning for Success

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This modified monthly budget system works for me as I see the big picture of our finances twice a month. Our family operates solely on Paul’s salary which is deposited bi-monthly. With a set time frame, I post the payday schedule within my calendar. I write, “payday” and then indicate our tithe (charitable contribution) designations.

Bill Pay Routine

Once payday arrives, I plan a time to pay, schedule, and check our bills for payment. In watching our finances twice a month, I can adjust our spending as needed to prevent dipping into our emergency fund.

For those of you without a set pay schedule, adjust as needed. I know it is especially difficult for small business owners, who depend on clients for their payday.

Work with your current situation; take initiative to schedule what you can; and get creative to stay motivated during these trying times.

In planning for success, post your payday schedule in your calendar. Since Paul’s check is automatically deposited and the pay stub is only available electronically, I need this reminder in my calendar.

Keep doing your best stretching your dollars. Some decisions are out of your hands, but you can control the spending and your attitude.

Though we are in for a rough four years complete with increased taxes due to our government’s poor planning, we have choices. In using time wisely, focus on what you can change with contentment. 🙂 Happy choosing!

Question: Have you seen a decrease in your family’s paycheck(s)? 

Planning for Success: Mark Due Dates for Monthly Bills – Day 5

Planning for success - Day 5

Photograph Credit: iStockphoto

Knowing that a successful year will not materialize on its own, we must plan and prepare for a prosperous 2013.

Throughout the 31 days of January, I will choose one topic each day to prepare or schedule for this year.

Without preparation, I know I will forget, miss, or overlook certain items. If you desire an organized year, then join me in this adventure of Planning for Success for a prosperous 2013.

To receive a daily e-mail around 11:00 a.m. with the new posts of each day, subscribe to my free daily newsletter. In case you miss a post in this series, I will provide the link to each day as the month progresses. 🙂

Day 1: Select a Planning Tool

Day 2: Add Your Priorities

Day 3: Print and Display Your Menu Planner – with free printable

Day 4: Record Membership Expiration Dates 

Day 5: Mark Due Dates for Monthly Bills

One of the easiest ways to keep your hard-earned money in your pocket is to make payments on-time. Those late fees and interest rate hikes eat up your savings, damage your credit, and add stress to your life.

You don’t need these headaches, and you can avoid them by getting your monthly payments organized and scheduling them. Whether you use your bank’s bill pay option, setup automatic payments on your accounts, or use your planner, phone, or planning tool, schedule the payments prior to the due dates.

In completing this step, I added our monthly bills at least two days prior to a payment’s due date on each month of my calendar. Typical recurring monthly bills fall into these six categories:

    • Charitable contributions/tithe
    • Consumer debt: credit card(s), line of credit, car payments
    • Insurance: car, health, and life
    • Mortgage/rent
    • School tuition
    • Utilities: water, electricity, gas, phones, cable, and Internet

In stretching our dollars, I mark due dates for monthly bills on my calendar to assist me in paying our bills on time. Without paying late fees and damaging our credit, I sleep soundly at night without worrying about missing a payment.

As you continue planning for success, mark due dates for your monthly bills and pay them prior to the due date.  By listing them on your calendar one or two days prior to the due date, you provide a buffer for when life happens.

Knowing you have a little grace puts your mind at ease and prevents the additional cost of late payments. Happy sleeping! 😉

Question: Did I miss any type of recurring monthly bill?

2012 Second Quick Tip Week: Change Your Air Filters

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Alex Wiebe)

In finishing this Quick Tip Week, our temperatures have risen to 100 degrees. The heat is bearing down and in this segment on stretching your dollars, I focus on a quick way to lower your energy bill during the summer heat.

Quick Tip #7: Change Your Air Filters

The air filters in ventilation systems get quite dirty from sucking in dust. As the dust builds up, the air has to fight through the dirt on the filter to circulate. The harder your system has to pull in the air, the longer your fan has to run which costs you money.

With a clean air filter, the air slips through the filter and circulates without needing to keep the fan running.

Most technicians recommend changing the standard air filter once a month. In stretching our dollars, I wait for ACE Hardware to run a sale on their air filters. I then stock up to keep our home cool without using extra energy.

As you seek options for stretching your dollars, remember to change your air filters. In using time wisely to complete this maintenance on your home, you can see the savings on your energy bill. Happy savings!

Question: How often do you change your air filters? 

How to Address Pricing Discrepancies – Part 1 of 2

Photograph Credit: Flickr (James Brooks)

As you check your receipt from a purchase, does your face change when you find a discrepancy? Obviously mine does.

My son enjoys watching my face as I scan receipts after a transaction. He likes to forecast whether we will leave the store or head to customer service. 🙂

In part 1 of this short series, I will share how I address pricing discrepancies before leaving the store.

Next week, I will share how I handle these issues when I discover the discrepancy after leaving the store.

Using this five-step plan makes this process relaxed without aggravating or aggressively attacking the customer service representative.

STEP ONE: Identify the Problem

If you notice that you paid more than you calculated, then find where the error occurred before heading to customer service. Were all your coupons deducted? Did the item ring up incorrectly? Did you get the wrong item?

Going to customer service stating, “My total was incorrect; It should have been $50, not $70” does not help the customer service representative solve the issue.

On the other hand, going to the representative stating, “These frozen vegetables are in the weekly advertisement as buy one, get one free, but they rang up full price,” will point the employee to the problem to solve. Knowing where the error occurred helps the representative solve the issue.

STEP TWO: Greet the Customer Service Representative

This employee is at work. He or she has family and friends. This person probably had nothing to do with your problem. By beginning your conversation with a friendly, soft-spoken, non-confrontational greeting will set the atmosphere for solving the problem. Kindness goes a long way, and there is no need to get nasty or furious.

STEP THREE: Wait for a Solution

Present your problem and wait. Giving the representative time to think, check the weekly sales advertisement, or call a manager will aid in his or her response. Stepping back to let them work gives you both space to assess the issue.

STEP FOUR: Listen to the Solution

Allow the representative to give you the solution or the options before responding. If you need an option clarified, then repeat what you understand and ask any questions.

STEP FIVE: Choose a Solution

If you agree with a solution offered by the representative, then take it. If you disagree, then ask to speak to a manager. If you do not get the solution you want, then you still have these options:

1. Leave the store

2. Ask for the district manager’s contact information

3. Request the company’s corporate customer service number

When you notice and address a pricing discrepancy, identify the problem, kindly greet the customer service representative, wait for a solution, listen to the solution, and choose a solution. Throughout the process, be kind, direct, and professional.

You may or may not solve the problem at that time. If the problem gets solved, then thank the representative and leave. If not, then you have more options. You can leave and address your concerns with a district manager or the corporate office. Whatever the outcome, be polite and firm and continue stretching your dollars while using time wisely.

Question: Do you find customer service representatives helpful with your concerns?