HOW TO STOP LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
Photo by Uhar Ulashchyk | Canva
Are you sick of living paycheck to paycheck? Of counting down the days until you get paid next…every single month?
If you want to gain better control of your finances, and even have money left over each month, it’s time to start planning better. This is something that’s easily manageable. With a few simple steps, you can create a plan that will help you break the cycle for good. Here’s how:
1. Create a budget
If your money just disappears each month and you don’t even know where it’s going, you need to create a budget. This is very important, as it shows you how much money is coming in and going out.
Without a budget, it’s so easy to live paycheck to paycheck each month. This happens because there’s no clear plan in place, and this makes it easy to overspend without realizing.
The purpose of a budget is to show you how much money you have to work with and where it’s going. Then, you can see where you need to cut back if you want to save money in the future.
When you’re making a budget, always start with the essentials first. Housing, food, transport, and utilities should always be considered to start. Then, you can make a list of everything else you need in order of importance. This will show you how much is left over for non-essentials.
2. Pay off your debts
If you’re relying on credit cards to get you through the month, it’s so easy to get into a lot of debt and fast.
And, it’s not just credit cards. It’s student debt, car payments, loans, store cards, and other types of credit. All of this can add up, and before you know it your repayments are unaffordable.
The first thing to do in this situation is to stop taking out any new loans or credit. Stop living beyond your means. Refer to your budget, and make sure everything you buy is affordable.
After doing this, work out how much debt you have in total, then make an affordable repayment plan. If you’re not sure where to start, use a free debt advice service, as they will be able to give you advice on your best options.
3. Raise extra money
If you’ve checked your budget and you don’t have enough money coming in, you might need to find ways to raise some extra cash.
To get some money as a one-off, try selling anything you have lying around that you no longer need. This could be anything – clothes, jewelry, baby or pet items, or even larger items like a car or appliances. Use this money to pay off some debts or start a savings account.
In the long-term, you might need to increase your income consistently. To do this, start by asking for a promotion or salary increase at your current job.
If this doesn’t work, either start looking for a higher paying job or consider looking for a second job or getting a side hustle.
There are lots of ways to make money on the side. For example, you can try delivery driving for Uber, call center work, babysitting, dog walking, online surveys, or there are lots of part-time work from home jobs.
Alternatively, if you have skills or expertise, like jewelry making, design, writing, marketing, customer service, or anything else, you can start an online business to make extra money.
4. Cut your costs
Another key part of getting your finances in check is to pay attention to what you’re spending money on. Even if you make more money, it’s no help to you if you just spend all of it.
Make sure you stick to your budget at all times, even if your income goes up. At the same time, make sure you’re being careful what you spend and always save money where you can.
For example, if you go out shopping, always check if there are offers or discounts available – or try shopping in cheaper stores. If you eat out a lot, try cooking at home instead. Plan out your meals and avoid getting extra takeouts or restaurant meals that aren’t in your budget.
If you have any contracts, like phone, car, insurance, or utilities, keep an eye out for deals that will cost less, or consider downgrading your services. Do the same with subscriptions, and if you have services you’re not using, make sure you cancel them ASAP.
Lastly, if you want to make a large purchase, rather than going against your budget or taking out a loan, save up instead. Making large impulse purchases is an easy way to blow your budget without realizing, so always ensure it’s within your means.
5. Start saving regularly
The last essential step in this process is to set up a savings plan, and stick to it! Start by putting away money for an emergency fund. Ideally, this should be enough to cover you for 4-6 months, but even a small safety net of $500-$1000 can help if things get tight.
Even if you don’t have the funds right away, try putting away a bit each month until you have enough money saved up in case you need it for an emergency.
After this, you can think about planning for the long-term. Once you stop focusing on surviving until payday, you can think about what you want later on. Think about your long-term goals.
Whatever you want to accomplish, by paying attention and intentionally planning, you can achieve it in the future.