It’s not certain which way the economy is heading right now, and saving money from your salary may currently figure high on your priority list. It should because it looks like the global economy may go through more frequent and deeper recession cycles over the next decade.

This would mean that the regular yearly pay raises you may have been counting on could be out of the window. There may be years of high payment and years of low or no bonuses. To add to the working Joe’s woes, housing loan EMIs have risen astronomically in last 18 months. These are uncertain times for the middle-income group.

You’ve read enough about how companies can cut costs in such a scenario. As a salaried employee, you may even be feeling the pinch of some of those cost-cutting measures, yourself. What about you? If your monthly package just doesn’t seem to cut it even now and the increment scenario is uncertain, how do you manage? The best way is to give yourself a salary hike. This simply means becoming more savings-oriented and making your salary last longer.

You may be among those who have not already put certain important saving mechanisms in place. If so, it is high time that you did. This article will provide some practical advice on how to save money from your salary. Let’s start off with your debt burden and debt-inducing habits.

To begin with, stop using your credit card for anything but important online purchases – especially if it comes from the same bank that handles your salary account in. Banks managing companies’ salary accounts usually press a credit card on every employee as a direct incentive for reckless spending. They know that employees often tend to treat their salary accounts like Horns of Plenty that never really run dry.

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Avoid personal loans. The high-interest rates are not the only reason – the habit of taking personal loans to bail out of financial crises is an extremely self-sabotaging one. The personal loan system is simply not geared to work in your favor, so steer clear of it. If you need money before payday, ask for an advance or borrow it from friends or colleagues – as a last resort only. Ideally, you should not be in such a situation in the first place.

Now let’s talk about what you have in hand. First of all, don’t underestimate the power of small currency. You would be surprised at how much the stray cash in your wallet – and even the small change – can add up to at the end of the month. Try it out. Put every form of low-denomination currency in a designated container at the end of each day. Count it at the end of the month and see for yourself if it can pay at least one of those recurring monthly bills, such as the Internet or cable TV charges.

What about your monthly outgoings on entertainment? Are there cheaper options available? Most of the world’s stressed-out executives choose the quickest (read costliest) forms of personal and family entertainment. Do you need to go bowling at that fancy new arcade? Do you need to pay a premium for the privilege of booking those cinema tickets online? Can you live without ordering out for unhealthy fast food? Is spending enormous amounts on at the local amusement arcade the only way to keep your child occupied on weekends?

Invariably, the cheaper alternatives are not only more cost-effective but also more wholesome and rewarding. Included are all the things that the availability of instant entertainment keeps us away from – such as an evening walk or jog, a visit to friends or family and checking out a museum or art gallery. You may discover – like thousands of others the world over have – that making a decision to live cheaper also enriches your social life and improves your health.

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Finally, let’s look at the essentials of daily living. As a mid-management person in your company, you may perceive it as being below your ‘standard’ to shop for your groceries and toiletries at Big Bazaar. Is there any sound logic to support this mindset? Some of the richest people on earth attribute at least some of their good fortune to the fact that they did not lift their noses at bargains, discounts, and bulk purchase savings.

Have the advertising world or a false sense of ‘upper middle-class’ dignity lured you into artificial lifestyle choices? Even if you are sometimes judged by the make of your shirt, nobody cares where you bought it. Moreover, where you buy your rice or razor blades from should certainly not be a ‘prestige point.’ If you have fallen for the misconception that you are only as good as the places, you shop in, correct the course now. The potential savings are very significant.

Jappreet Sethi

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