SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Ava Smith, Scott Bampton, Elizabeth White, Glenn Rossman, Pat Romanski

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BMO Harris Bank Financial Tip of the Week: Getting Ahead With Smaller Paycheck

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 01/24/13 -- As part of BMO Harris Bank's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and Making Money Make Sense, BMO Harris is providing weekly financial tips. This week's tip provides ways to get ahead with a small paycheck.

Many Americans are seeing their paychecks is a little lighter this year, due to a payroll tax increase that is forcing millions of people to make tough budget cuts.

The tax has risen back up to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent, costing someone making $50,000 annually about $1,000 per year and a household with two high-paid workers up to $4,500.

But regardless of how many zeros it contains, there are steps you can take to help make ends meet by being smart with the money you have.

BMO Harris Bank suggests doing the following to make your pay check stretch farther:

Budget for essentials first. There are certain expenses in life that are non-negotiable, such as a place to live, food to eat and transportation to and from work. These are costs you should budget for first. The easiest way to create a budget is by adding up all of your fixed and essential costs for one month and subtracting this amount from your monthly take home pay. The amount that's left is what you have available for optional expenses, such as going out with friends, buying clothing and purchasing concert tickets.

Get what you want for less. You like eating out -- but you also have to pay your rent. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that allow you to do both. These days, you can get almost anything at a discount. Whether its gas, groceries, dining out, movie tickets, haircuts or even an exotic vacation, it's likely there are online coupons or mobile apps to help you find what you want at a lower cost.

And don't forget about things that don't cost anything at all. If you can't afford to meet your friends for happy hour, suggest meeting at free events instead. You'll still get to socialize and it will likely be a new experience for you and your friends.

Only buy what you really love. Ask yourself if you truly can't live without an item before laying down the cash for it. If the item is currently outside your budget, for example, an expensive watch, you can either begin saving for it little by little or find a way to get it for less. For example, you may be able to find what you're looking for online at a fraction of the retail price.

With careful planning and help from BMO Harris Bank, you can get what you want with the money you have.

Put yourself in a comfortable place and get started with helpful steps.

The Learning Center is brought to you by BMO Harris Bank, WGN, CLTV, WGN AM 1070, Chicago Tribune, RedEye and Hoy.

About BMO Harris Bank
Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

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