Do you end up owing the government money when you file your annual taxes? That’s never a fun feeling. Or do you get a huge tax refund every year? That feels better, but getting a refund means you loaned the government your hard-earned money interest-free for up to twelve months. In either of those situations, your money is not in your pocket where it belongs, when it belongs there. Many people don’t consider that there is a third option. It’s called optimizing your paycheck.
The W-4 form you file with your employer is not a one-time submission. You can update this as often as you need. To help you figure out if you’re paying too much (or too little), grab your two most recent pay stubs, and do the following to see what you should be withholding:
1.) The IRS Withholding Calculator will run you through tax scenarios and advise how many allowances to claim on your W-4.
2.) Use an online tax calculator to see how it will affect your paycheck.
3.) Adjust your W-4 as needed.
If you’re surviving without that extra cash per paycheck anyway, adjust your W-4 to get the money, but consider sending that money straight onto that credit card you need to pay, or your car loan, or a savings account. It will add up faster than you think.
The point is: it’s your money, so make it work for you!