This story is part of CNBC Make It's One-Minute Money Hacks series, which provides easy, straightforward tips and tricks to help you understand your finances and take control of your money.
Whether you're paid once a week, once a month or somewhere in between, you should always aim to make the most out of your paycheck.
While it can be tempting to splurge on a purchase you've had your eye on, you can better set yourself up for success by taking three simple steps as soon as the direct deposit hits your bank account.
1. Contribute to your 401(k)
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Take a minute to review your 401(k). First, you'll want to make sure that you are taking advantage of any contribution match offered by your employer. Aim to chip in at least as much as your company matches so you don't leave any free money on the table.
Next, consider upping the percentage you contribute from each paycheck. Experts typically recommend 10% or more, if you can afford it. In addition to helping you save for retirement down the line, putting as much as you can in your 401(k) has the added benefit of lowering your taxable income.
If you earn $50,000 per year and contribute 10%, or $5,000, of that to your 401(k), your taxable income is reduced to $45,000. When you do decide to withdraw your money in retirement, you will pay taxes at whatever tax bracket you qualify for at the time.
2. Take care of your savings
With your long-term retirement savings handled, the next thing you'll want to do is contribute to your shorter-term savings. Financial experts recommend automating this process so that funds are deducted straight from your paycheck before you get a chance to spend them.
This strategy is called paying yourself first, and it requires you to treat your savings like a fixed expense. That means that you set money aside as soon as you get it rather than waiting to see how much you have left at the end of the month.
The popular 50-30-20 budget strategy recommends putting 20% of your income toward savings and investments if you can afford it. But no matter the amount you can contribute, make sure to automate it so that you don't end up spending it first.
3. Budget for your fixed expenses
Lastly, review your budget and note how much you'll need to spend on fixed expenses like rent, utilities and insurance. Is your spending on track to let you cover those without carrying a balance on your credit card? If not, adjust accordingly.
This includes staying on top of any debt you have. Prioritizing debt payments will prevent you from falling behind and owing additional interest.
Once you're sure that your essentials are taken care of, you can spend the rest of your money on whatever you want with the peace of mind that your budget is in good shape.
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