3 things to consider if you’re looking to squeeze more money out of your paycheck

BOSTON—Taxes, insurance, retirement contributions.

You may look at your paycheck every two weeks and wonder where all the money goes.

Mike Murray, a financial planner with Peabody Wealth Advisors in Danvers, says there are three things to consider if you’re looking for extra savings from your pay stub.


Murray says tax withholding adjustments are a good way to not overpay the government. However, some folks are not great savers and could be in for an unpleasant surprise if they owe money versus expecting to get money back each year. Murray encourages people to talk to a tax professional prior to making any adjustments to tax withholding.

“I think being conservative on your tax withholdings is always the best strategy,” Murray said. “I think the key is that when it becomes tax filing season there’s no surprise.”


Murray says paying down high-interest credit card debt should be the priority over making retirement plan contributions.

“If your credit card is charging you 19 percent interest, your expectation in your 401(k) isn’t going to be making 19 percent a year,” Murray said.

But Murray says you should try to take advantage of a retirement plan if your company offers a matching contribution.

“If you have a 401(k) and your company offers a match, if you have the ability take advantage of at least the match because that’s free money,” he said.

Also, Murray said for those paying student loans, the recently passed Secure Act 2.0 has a provision effective in 2024 to allow employers to match your student loan payments and place matching contributions in your 401(k) as if you were contributing to the plan. This will allow to people to pay down debt and prioritize retirement savings, he said.


If you’re really desperate for extra cash, Murray says there’s one thing you cannot do and that’s opt out of health or disability insurance. Murray says having insurance is one of the pillars of financial planning and not having proper coverage is playing with fire.

“Disability [insurance] is what we’re most passionate about because the statistical likelihood of having a disability in your life is higher than you dying young,” Murray said.

Murray says one catastrophic medical or life event could put not only the individual at risk, but also their family’s future.

“If you lose your ability to earn a living, quite frankly, your creditors don’t care why you can’t pay them,” he said.

Murray says depending on individual circumstances, people should consider a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). It is a way to control insurance premiums and potentially save money on a tax-favored basis for future health care costs, he said.

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