Chicago Bankruptcy Attorneys Recommend Giving Yourself a Raise

Hoping that your boss might recognize your hard work with a little more money this year? Waiting for your paycheck to catch up with the cost of living? Well, you might be out of luck.

Many employers are forgoing raises for the second year in a row thanks to economic concerns, according to an Associated Press story circulating the Internet. So most workers are getting hit hard by the recession on two fronts - not only are they struggling to pay upside-down mortgages and outrageous credit card bills, but the price of most consumer goods - gas, milk, fresh produce, clothing, even pet food - are still rising as steadily as ever.

But I'm going to let you in on a little secret. You don't have to wait for you boss to give you a raise - you can give yourself one. It just takes a little effort and creativity.

Let's look at the classic example -Starbucks (or Peet's Coffee & Tea, or any other coffee shop located on every other city block). Say you're going to your café of choice every day. If you're getting a plain old cup o' joe, you're probably spending $10 a week. Seems like small change, but that's over $500 a year! Now if you're getting a latte, mocha, or some other espresso incarnation, let's double that to $20 a week - and $1,000 a year. And if you're getting the blended "coffee" (i.e. milkshake)....well, you get the picture.

Now let's say you brew your beverage at home. You'd spend maybe 50 cents per cup, and that's assuming you get the expensive beans. You're looking at savings of $400 to upwards of 1,000.

I realize many of us have already cut back, so gourmet coffee might not be the best example for everyone. But the idea is to brainstorm strategies that work for you. Sometimes your spending seems so familiar, you don't realize you could live without it - until you confront it head on.

Take bottled water. When you buy a daily bottle from the store or vending machine, you're shelling out $350 or so annually for something that comes out of the tap for free.

Or the dry cleaners - if you're paying for most of your clothes to get cleaned, you could easily be spending $900 a year. Why not just buy a home dry clean kit - or choose only machine-washable materials like cotton - and keep that money for yourself?

How about the granddaddy of all hidden costs - the storage unit? Out of sight, out of mind - but if the average storage space costs $80 a month, that's another $1,000 per year for stuff you probably don't even remember you had. As a bonus, why not have a yard sale - or put some of it on eBay?

Heck, you don't even have to be that creative. We've done the work for you! From generic brands to energy-efficient light bulbs to online magazines, find tips that could save you up to $20,000 a year when you order our free Financial Toolkit online. As a bonus, the kit also comes chock full of advice on saving and investing, avoiding foreclosure and eliminating debt.

And if you have any questions, a DebtStoppers attorney can answer them free of charge. Just sign up for our complimentary one-on-one debt analysis. Ultimately, your financial future doesn't rest in the hands of your boss or your creditors or even the economy - it's up to you.

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