One way we get in a financial rut is by living paycheck to paycheck. Some of this is because the economy is not what it once was and so it can be pretty challenging to try to not live paycheck to paycheck. Here are some tips for getting out of the rut.
How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Make a budget. This will not only help you prioritize your spending, but also see where your “money leaks” are. You will be able to keep track of areas in your spending that are not necessary and find ways to eliminate them.
Keep track of waste in your home and find ways to stop it. If you are wasting personal care products, food and cleaning supplies, you are wasting money and spending more than is necessary. One way to make sure you are wasting less is to have a plan in place should you have leftover food. Everything can be used up, even small amounts. For instance, let’s say you have steak for dinner and a small steak is still left from it. Save it and make it into a low cost omelet for breakfast the next day.
Give up some luxuries temporarily. You don’t have to keep them that way, but getting ahead often requires making sacrifices. Cut your cable and take on Netflix instead. Instead of ordering pizza, make it at home. Don’t drive a short distance you can easily walk. Set a time period where you will put these luxuries on hold and use that time to get ahead.
Start eating simply. Don’t eat meals that cost too much. Eat what is on sale. Be conscious of what you are cooking with. It might not be your preference, but again, it is only temporary.
Start putting a little bit of money away every paycheck. One way to stop living paycheck to paycheck is to create a financial cushion and one way to do that is to build a savings, even if it is small at first.
Get creative with entertainment. There is a multitude of free entertainment ion most communities. You just need to know where to look. The public library is a great place to start as is the local newspaper. If you have a local independent paper, they also have a community bulletin section as well and they might know about things the regular paper doesn’t report and these papers are often free.
Look for ways to lighten your load. You may not think you qualify for any help, but often non-profits like food banks don’t ask for any verification to get help from them. If you are struggling in any way, you are what these programs are designed for. If you feel guilty about getting help because you are not destitute, offer to volunteer your time in exchange for the help.
Call the places you owe money and ask if they can help you. Many times, all it takes is asking for them to help work out a better payment plan that works for your budget. This is especially true if you have always been good about paying. You will find that many companies, including utilities, offer “budget billing” that spreads the payments out over the year, rather than a different amount each month to fit budgets.
Take care of things on your own. Don’t make service calls for things that you can easily fix yourself at home. These little expenses will eat away at any savings you do manage to build and will leave you living on the edge again.
Be more sustainable. Don't rely too much on what you can buy and what the cost is of products. Start making some of your own things such as cleaning supplies, convenience foods and spice mixes. Garden and grow some of your own food. These may seem like little things, but they add up over time and the less you depend on things you buy, the more self-sustaining you will live.
If you have gotten out of the paycheck to paycheck rut, what are some things you did to break it? I would love it if you shared your tips in the comments!