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All that bottled water adds up.
All that bottled water adds up. / Elia Zane/Hemera / Getty Images

An earlier version of the story below misstated the impact of tax brackets on raises and the annual cost of bottled water.

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Few subjects are as likely to generate a collective groan as math, but math is necessary — just ask math educator Laura Laing, author of Math for Grownups. Laing’s book explores everyday problems such as calculating how much a raise really is after taxes and converting calories to cardio time.

Here are a few of her tips:

Bottled water.

If you buy three bottles of water a day, at $1 a bottle, you’ll be spending $1,095 a year. If tap water isn’t an option, a water filter can be had for about 12.5 cents a day, or $45.63 a year.

The 20% rule.

On average, a car depreciates 20% in the first year. If you can make a 20% down payment when you buy, you won’t owe more than your car is worth.

Budget planning.

It may seem like a lifetime ago that you learned to plan a budget in high school economics class, but it’s never too late to get started. Budget experts say groceries should account for about 18% of your income, housing 28% to 33% and savings 10% to 20%.

Sizing up a raise

A hefty raise might not be as big as it looks. Extra money could bump you into the next tax bracket, which means you’ll pay a higher tax rate on earnings above a certain threshold. Relax: Your earnings below that threshold are still taxed at the previous, lower tax rate.

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