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Do you never seem to have enough money to live your life the way you want to? Are you struggling to pay your bills? Are you living paycheck to paycheck?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re not alone.
According to a recent article by CNN, 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and, according to CBC, 63% of Canadians are in the same situation. I’ve been there before, too. If you’re there right now, the good news is that, with patience and discipline, there is a way out.
What Does Living Paycheck to Paycheck Mean
Living paycheck to paycheck is when you literally live off of the money you earn as you earn it. In other words, as soon as your paycheck hits your bank account, you start spending it. Typically that paycheck will even be gone well before your next one arrives.
It’s important to look at the lifestyle habits that got you there in the first place. Without knowing what led you to living paycheck to paycheck, it’s impossible to get out. Living on one income or two low incomes is difficult but it’s not an excuse to stop this downward cycle into debt.
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5 Ways to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
1. Stop buying things you don’t need
Most people spend their money as soon as they make it. Once a paycheck hits your account, you start spending. That’s just the honest truth. And it’s a sad thing.
After paying the bills (and in some cases, before), money flows to things that just don’t matter- clothes, a new phone, video games, etc. And the scary thing is, most people living paycheck to paycheck don’t realize the damage they are doing to their own financial well being.
I understand you work hard for your money and you want to enjoy it. I don’t blame you for thinking that. The key, however, is what you spend your money on.
Before I spend extra money, I always ask myself, “will spending money on this provide me with long lasting value?”
In other words, I try to look at all the money I spend as an investment. That means spending money on taking a class and learning a new skill, going on a well-deserved vacation, or buying a gym membership that will improve my health. Does a new outfit benefit me over the long term? Probably not.
2. Get out of debt
The average American house hold is $132,086 in debt. Moreover, combine the American population has $12.25 trillion of debt. That’s INSANE!
Debt is the biggest chain around your neck, which will keep you in financial ruin forever. And it’s not bad enough that you owe money, but the money you owe is accumulating interest. In fact, many people in debt spend more money paying the interest on what they owe then paying the principal amount.
3. Start investing
Even if you’re responsible with your money, I bet you don’t invest. Most people who do want to put money aside, save it. Unfortunately, the money they save usually gets used later on for an emergency.
In the meantime, the money just sits there…not growing. If you’re lucky, you’ll make a few dollars from your savings account at 1% interest. Beyond that, it’s as good as putting your money under your mattress.
So, what do you do?
Living Paycheck to Paycheck (No Savings)
The best way to make more money is to let your money work for you. You need to start investing. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think, even if you have no experience and no savings. If you want to learn more about investing and building wealth, check this out.
If you do not feel comfortable investing money without a savings account, consider opening a high yield savings account in the meantime.
4. Start budgeting
In order for a company to run properly (and not go bankrupt), it needs a solid budget. And companies spend a LOT of time nailing down their budget and planning for the future. Getting the basics of down of tracking your income and expenses is vital to smooth operations.
Fortunately, personal budgeting is quite a bit easier. All you need to do is take some time to write what you make monthly, what you owe and, your expenses for the month. Then, subtract the average amount of your monthly bills and any other necessary expenses (emphasis on necessary). Then take what you have left over and allocate it to pay off debt or invest. And there you go- you have a budget.
The hardest part about budgeting isn’t the act of creating it, it’s actually sticking to it. If you can pull it off though, you’ll be paying off your debts in no time and you can even get a nice investment portfolio going.
5. Starting living efficiently
A lot of people live for the weekend. And part of that lifestyle means $5 beers and $10 burgers at the bar on a Friday night.
Well, guess what?
That’s killing your wallet. You need to start being more financially efficient. That means skipping drinks out on the town. You can go out when you have something to celebrate… and living paycheck to paycheck is not something to celebrate.
Moreover, some cultures, such as my own, are raised to do everything themselves. What that means is if something breaks you fix it instead of buying something new or paying someone to fix it for you. For example, my grandfather is a star handyman. The man can cook, weld, do electrical work, plumbing, concrete, farming, painting…and that’s just the beginning. And he learned to do all these things without the internet. So stop being lazy and try to do some work yourself. You have every single resource you need at the click of a button, there are billions of ” how to” videos on YouTube. So become handy and cut your expenses.
Stop living paycheck to paycheck tips
One great last-minute tip to stop living paycheck to paycheck is to use lists. List your debts, list your earnings, your expenses, what you buy, what you need… then analyze it and see where you can save money.
Another tip is to sell some of your junk. That guitar you keep around and never use or the T-shirt that’s way too small, SELL IT. You don’t need it, so turn it into cash.
Last tip, downgrade. You don’t need a fancy T.V, a fancy car or the latest iPhone. You can live without them. Don’t keep them to uphold your status- people don’t care about your “stuff” as much as you think.
Would you rather look great and be broke or look simple and have money? Choice is yours, but choose wisely.
Want more living paycheck to paycheck stories and tips? Be sure to check out Alex’s site over at <selfsuccessforyou.com