7 Things That Eat Up Your Paycheck

You don't need us to tell you that right now, it's smart to function on a leaner, meaner budget. But it's hard to do that when you're oblivious to where all your cash goes. Well, stop scratching your head, and consult this list of innocent little expenses that may be siphoning off your bottom line. The great news: With a few tweaks here and there, you can keep your wallet fatter for longer. Need an extra $250? We'll show you how to pad your savings account in 30 days.

1. IRS withholdings. Many people have money withheld from their paychecks in the hopes of getting a fat refund. But doing that is like giving the government an interest-free loan. Instead, change your W4 filing-just ask your employer for a new form-so that you get as much money as possible up front. Then discipline yourself to put that portion in the bank, where you'll earn interest.

2. Dry cleaning. Dropping off your nice clothes at the cleaners can cost $5 or more per item…and that adds up. But thanks to such products as Tide Total Care and Dryel, you can give TLC to your finer duds while using your home washing machine and dryer. They both cost under $15, will clean at least 16 garments, and can be found at your local drugstore. Try these money-saving switches to save big.

3. Gym memberships. Belonging to a decent gym costs at least $50 a month-whether or not you use it. Keep your butt in tight shape by joining a running club. Not only will you meet lots of new people and get to breathe fresh air, but you'll also often pay significantly less (some are free!). Check out rrca.org for one in your area. Check out these painless ways to save money fast.

4. Groceries. Coupons aren't just for grandmas; they can save you beaucoup bucks too. It's best to use them for staples you always need: eggs, milk, bread, etc. They've even gone high tech, so you can skip flipping through the paper and just search clipngocoupons.com. Don't forget about the dollar store. You'll be amazed at how much you'll save.

5. Eating out. Catching up with friends over dinner is something no girl should have to give up. But you can enjoy the fun vibe of a restaurant without racking up a big bill by eating bar food instead of pricey entrées.

6. Movie rentals. Unless you're pulling in a Jolie-Pitt-size salary, it's a good idea to sign up with an online movie-rental company, such as Netflix. For $4.99, you can get two rentals a month, which is about what it costs you to check out just one flick at your local movie store. Or opt for the $8.99 plan and get unlimited rentals.

Need to make some extra cash fast? Try these brilliant ideas.

7. Manicures. Let's do some grooming math: Getting a mani once a week can add up to $60 a month. That's $720 a year! Stretch your nail maintenance to every two to three weeks by picking only light-colored polishes-when they chip, it's not as noticeable.


Get more from Cosmopolitan.com!

He Said vs. She Said: The Great Male/Female Survey

Body Language Decoder

11 Hairstyles You Should Steal

Why Men Love Bad Girls

What Guys Secretly Think About Your Hair and Makeup

Become a fan of Cosmo on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Want More Sex & Love Advice? Subscribe to Cosmo & Save up to 71%!

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.