Does your money run out between paydays? Try these remedies for being constantly broke.
If you’re scraping by every month with no money left over from your last paycheck, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 75% of Americans surveyed by the American Payroll Association said they would find it “somewhat or very difficult” to cover expenses if their paychecks were delayed for even one week.
Even if you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for years, however, you can take steps to improve your financial picture so you can work towards achieving financial goals for a better future.
Below are six ways you can cure the financial ills of living paycheck to paycheck.
1. Create a budget
Maybe you’re running out of money between paychecks because you don’t have a plan for covering recurring monthly expenses with your income amount. It’s easy to create a budget using budgeting apps you can quickly download and link to bank, credit card and other accounts.
Prefer a hard copy budget? You’ll find plenty of budgeting templates and advice online about how to get started. If you need help setting up a budget, consider meeting with a nonprofit credit counselor who can offer guidance and advice.
2. Eliminate certain expenses
If your entire paycheck is eaten up in a week, you probably have a few expenses you can cut to save money. For example, maybe you could save $70 a month by canceling four out of five streaming service subscriptions. Maybe you could save another $200 each month by cutting back on going out to eat or takeout.
Compare prices on insurance to find a better rate, run errands in batches to save on gas and stick to your prepared list when you hit the grocery store. Look for ways you can reduce or eliminate certain expenses so you can free up money to cover that paycheck-to-paycheck gap and maybe even sock away some funds in savings.
Find out: 6 Signs Your Budget Needs a Makeover
3. Live within your means
If you don’t earn a huge income but you’re charging dinners at fancy restaurants and driving a luxury car to keep up with your big-spender friends – or maybe just because you like nice things – it’s time to rein yourself in if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. If you don’t want to be constantly broke, you must be realistic about how far your income can actually go.
Could you sell that expensive car and buy a used, practical vehicle that looks nice but isn’t brand new to save on car payments? Maybe you could cut back to dining out only once a week or move to a less expensive apartment or downsize to a smaller house to free up a few hundred dollars each month.
4. Start an emergency fund
When you live paycheck to paycheck, you probably don’t have enough money to cover unexpected medical bills, car or home repairs or an emergency veterinary bill. Then you have to charge those costs to a credit card, increasing your monthly bills even more.
Even if you have only $100 to open an emergency savings account, go ahead and set that up, with an achievable goal of saving $1,000 for a basic emergency fund. Once you achieve that goal, increase the goal amount incrementally each time you achieve the savings goal until you have enough to cover emergencies or at least a few months expenses if you lose your job.
Find out: 5 Ways to Build Emergency Savings Fast
5. Get a better job
When you live paycheck to paycheck, the obvious solution is to get a higher-paying job. Searching for employment can be a full-time job in itself, but well worth your efforts if your search pays off with a bigger paycheck that stretches further than the income you currently earn. Not up to changing jobs? Take a second, part-time job or start a side hustle such as pet sitting or lawn care to add extra cash each month.
6. Pay off debt
Are you paying hundreds of dollars towards credit card debt or making little progress on paying off debt because you can afford only the minimum monthly payment amount? Focus on paying off at least one debt to free up money every month. Then take that money you were paying monthly and put it towards the next debt you want to pay off.
Once you get rid of these paycheck-draining debts, try to avoid racking up more debt. Instead, put those savings into your emergency fund so you can pay cash for emergencies and large purchases next time.
Published by Debt.com, LLC