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Bigger paychecks not noticed

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, February 13, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

A majority of U.S. consumers who are struggling with their personal finances might have overlooked a nice opportunity to set aside a little extra in savings last year.

That's one conclusion that could be drawn from a recent online survey of nearly 1,800 people by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC, a national nonprofit credit counseling organization. Знакомства с иностранцами

The survey, conducted in late January via the NFCC website, found that only 3 percent of respondents saved most of the extra money in the larger paychecks that resulted from the temporary 2 percent Social Security payroll tax cut.

Others also reported they put their windfall toward a good purpose: 18 percent said they paid off debt, 8 percent caught up on past-due bills and 4 percent increased their retirement contributions, another form of savings. Only 1 percent, perhaps worn out from frugality, said they treated themselves to something special.

But more than half the respondents -- 66 percent -- said they didn't even realize their paychecks were bigger. That could be because their wages weren't sufficient to generate a significant difference, but it also suggests plenty of people don't pay enough attention to the taxes and other deductions listed on their paycheck stubs.

The payroll tax cut amounted to approximately $1,000, or $83 per month, for a family earning $50,000 annually, according to the NFCC. The organization said that amount could mean the difference between financial stability and distress each month.

NFCC spokeswoman Gail Cunningham said consumers should be aware of even small changes in their paychecks.

"Not recognizing that the paycheck was larger begs the question of how the additional money was spent," Cunningham said in a statement. "Knowing how much you make and consciously determining how to spend it are basic building blocks of financial stability."

Consumers should familiarize themselves with their paycheck format, confirm that deductions are correct and contact their employer's payroll supervisor or accounting department if they have any questions.

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