“Most” Deductions Are Expenses, Too

When you document your pay for budgeting purposes, put in your gross — the amount you make before taxes or other deductions are taken out. Then, note each deduction as an expense or a savings contribution (if you’re doing that already).

That way, you can take control over things like income tax withholding, benefit expenses, savings and retirement contributions to meet your individual goals. A case or two in point:

Case 1: You got a big tax refund last year. This year, you decide to lower your withholdings — and you get more to take home in each paycheck. You get to use the money wisely now instead of being tempted to blow the big refund on something that might not seem so smart later.

Case 2: You want to save for retirement. You decide to pump up your TSP, plus have your spouse contribute to his or her employer-provided retirement plan. You get less take-home pay — but progress towards your goal is underway!