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Dealing with Smaller Take-Home Pay after Fiscal Cliff

By Michael Cohn
January 3, 2013

With the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, the majority of workers will be facing smaller amounts of take-home pay starting this month, but the American Institute of CPAs has some timely financial advice.

Nearly three-quarters of American households will have smaller paychecks this year because in the fiscal cliff legislation Congress chose not to extend the 2 percentage-point payroll tax holiday that has been in effect for two years. That means someone who earns $50,000 will take home about $1,000 less. Other workers might want to consider changes to their retirement planning because of the fiscal cliff legislation. It removes some restrictions and makes it possible for more people to convert a traditional 401(k) to a Roth 401(k).

“We’ve moved from a fiscal cliff to a financial reset,” said Sharon Lechter, CPA, author and editor of a new book—Save Wisely, Spend Happily—published Thursday by the American Institute of CPAs. “We all need to assess our financial situations and determine what changes we need to make in saving and spending to adjust to the new realities created by this legislation.”

Lechter offers these tips for dealing with reduced take-home pay:

Review your expenses. With a cut in take-home pay, you need to ensure you’re making every dollar count—and that it counts toward goals you want to achieve.

Have the money talk. Talk with your spouse or partner to ensure you’re aligned in your views about money, which can be the root of significant challenges in relationships. You need to make sure that you’re heading toward similar goals or at least understand the goals you each prioritize.

Ask for help. If you don’t know how to move forward, ask. According to a Harris survey, only 13 percent of Americans seek advice from a financial professional. Managing money can have many complexities and sometimes a professional can best put you on the right path.

For more information on the book, visit The book is available in paperback and Kindle format through All proceeds go to support financial education.


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