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A Few Ways to Avoid Living Paycheck to Paycheck

If you are one of the money that are living paycheck to paycheck there are a few ways that you can use to change your behavior to look to get ahead.  While of course the obvious choice would be to increase your income, whether at your current job, or getting a second one in what’s left of your free time, but that may not be a possibility, given the unlikelihood of getting a huge raise, or wanting to pick up another job after work and taking care of your family.  That pretty much then just leaves making a few spending and saving changes that could help you in the short and long-term, and pretty soon you can actually be one of the few that you can be proud to say you no longer live paycheck to paycheck.

Budget for Less

You’ve always heard that the more you make, the more you spend, so why not just cap your income at a certain level that you can spend from.  Like if you make $60,000, pretend you make $50,000 and base your budget off of that.  The remaining funds can go to areas of your finances that have been lacking thus far and can finally give yourself a little cushion that you have been waiting for but were unable to contribute you to prior to that.  If you can budget and allocate funds that go to expenses such as bills, food, gas, spending, you’ll be in good shape.

Build an Emergency Fund

You never know what life will throw at you, so it’s always a good idea to be as prepared as you can, so that if you do have a huge expense come up, it will not have to go on a credit card and set you back a few months trying to pay it off.  Whether there is an unexpected medical, vet, or auto bill hit you, you can be prepared to handle that cost if you can put a few months’ worth of expenses in an account for when you really need it.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

Take coffee for example, sure it’s only a few dollars for a cup, but if you stop every single day on the way to work, even sometimes on the way home too, plus get breakfast while you’re at it, you could be looking at $100 a month where you could have just programmed the coffee pot at home to be finished brewing by the time you are ready to walk out of the door to work.  Tracking your spending can really put purchases in perspective to see what was really needed and what probably could have been avoided.

Pay Off Debt

Not only does debt put a huge financial strain on you trying to pay back, but you’re always paying interest on top of that, which depending on the type and balance, could be at 4% at $100,000 for a mortgage, up to 16% APR on a credit card with a balance of a few thousand.  Either way, the more you are able to get rid of your debt, the more money you can free up each month, and that does not mean just making the minimum payment so you can lower your expenses, but to actually keep making large payments until the debt is gone.

Downsize

You can play the part that you have lots of money for a while, but pretty soon when your cards are maxed out and you don’t have any savings, it’s time to look at what you are spending your money on, from monthly bills to impulse purchases.  First take a look at your house and car payments.  Can you comfortably afford them?  Could you afford to downsize to save money each month?  That may be something to look into so you can reduce your necessary monthly expenses, while at the same time, reviewing your credit and debit card statements to see which monthly purchases can be avoided.

Don’t Neglect Your Future

Retirement could be decades away, but that doesn’t mean you should worry about saving for retirement last.  Actually, the earlier you are able to save the better, so there is more chance for your contributions to grow over time.  If your work offers matching 401k contributions, you should at least be doing the max, since any less would be leaving free money on the table.  From there, look to continue to increase the % of your contributions each year until you can hopefully max you for your 401k on a yearly basis, without feeling too much of the burden.

Comments

  1. Yes! Downsizing and cutting expenses were how we stopped craving paychecks each month to make ends meet.

    We moved to an apartment across town to save $400/mo, started cooking at home to cut down our $1,000 grocery bill, got rid of a car, walked to work, and more.

    Of course, this only works if you have the disposable income to “discover” and apply to debt or savings. For the truly poor, this isn’t a magic bullet.

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