By Carmen Wong Ulrich

WEDDING GIFTS

You're not obliged to jump at the R950 bowl set on the registry. Most lists have lower priced items, like salad servers. Send a personal note along with your gift and maybe offer to cook the couple dinner. Everyone appreciates personal gestures.

You can also pool funds with other guests to grab that coveted R1 500 mirror. For my bridal shower, a group of friends pitched in for a spa visit and it was one of my favourite gifts.

YOUR TAX RETURNS

It's usually worth paying someone to do your taxes, especially if you use an individual accountant. They cost more than the big companies, but can save you extra bucks as they often spend more time finding deductions you could claim. (Remember, the fee that you're charged depends on how complicated your taxes are.) Ask friends and family members for referrals.

You want an expert to work with in the long term who will get a full picture of your life, as that will help him or her find specific deductions that you can take. But once you sign the dotted line you're responsible for what's reported - so keep it honest.

SALARY RAISE

If there's a salary freeze, even a superstar shouldn't request a raise. You won't get one and asking makes you look like you don't care about your company's wellbeing. But assuming that your company is giving raises and you've had successes, prove your worth at your review.

Show how your work has benefited the company and, if relevant, increased revenue or saved cash. If you're not sure your case is strong, wait until next year. Raise not possible? Shoot for a title change. Just getting "assistant" off your business card (and if you don't have one, now's definitely the time to ask!) can make a real difference in how you're perceived - and could lead to bigger bucks once you land your next job.

  • Visit www.ioljobs.co.za for more.

    ONLINE SPENDING

    Ordering stuff at 1am in your pyjamas is so convenient that a number of women I know have gone into debt. To curb impulse buys, don't save your credit card info when you check out from your favourite online stores (otherwise it's way too easy to spend). Have a goal in mind when you go online - a specific purchase.

    Windows XP shopping can be a lot more dangerous than window shopping at the mall. Bookmark websites that help you save money. If you're new to shopping online, check www.onlineshopping.co.za, which lists some of the best local online stores, or visit www.cybertrek.co.za and www.luxury4less.co.za, which offer great discount deals. For stores that offer free delivery, try www.gr8gifts.co.za or www.simplyflowers.co.za

  • The GLAMOUR incentiviser: Stop a bad habit by putting R5 in a jar every time you slip up.

    R5 x 30 days = R150. Buy yourself a good book to replace your bad habit with a healthier new one.

  • Published with permission from Glamour magazine.