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If you’re living the paycheck to paycheck life then you know how frustrating it can be to desperately wait for payday to come. I’ve been there. There have been times when we had barely any money in our checking account. We’d still have a full week until payday and the anxiety would start to kick in. What if something unexpected happened? What if our car broke or there was an emergency? I felt like if anything popped up, we’d be totally and completely lost. I hated the uncertainty that came with knowing that our family didn’t have our finances in order. I couldn’t stand the fear that came along with our depleting checking account.
Can you relate? Have you been there? I’m happy to tell you that there is a way out! You are capable of stopping the paycheck to paycheck cycle! Below are 5 things that you can do today to live your best financial life.
1. Know your finances in detail.
When I was in college, I barely ever checked my bank account. I knew that I didn’t have a lot of money, so the idea of facing my bank account terrified me. So, like any respectable adult (she says sarcastically), I’d hide from it. If I didn’t face my problem, it didn’t exist, right? Wrong! I ended up only digging myself in a deeper hole and made even more financial mistakes.
It wasn’t until I took a serious interest in my finances that I was able to take the steps toward changing my finances. And that, my friend, is what you must do. Study your expenses. Where are you seeing patterns? Where are you overspending? Where can you make sacrifices so that you can reach your goals?
Find a way to track your income and expenses daily. It doesn’t matter if you use an app, software program, or paper and pencil. Just track your expenses! There is power in knowledge and the more you know about your money, the more responsible you will become when making financial decisions.
Our family personally uses Quicken to track every penny that we spend and earn. I’ve gone into detail about how to track your finances HERE.
2. Don’t give up on a budget.
You knew that I couldn’t write this article and not mention writing a budget. And I know that I’ve said it over and over, but a budget is KEY when it comes to reaching financial freedom. I used to think that budgets were just for people who were boring and didn’t live an exciting life. I see now just how wrong I was! Writing a budget is your way of taking back control of your money. It’s your way of telling your money what to do instead of letting it control you.
If you’ve ever written a budget just to give up on it month and month again, please know that you’re not alone. Sticking to a budget is HARD. But good thing you are capable of doing hard things! No one is perfect. No budget is perfect. You will make mistakes and overspend here and there. But if you want to stop living the paycheck to paycheck life, then you’ll continue to write a budget month in and month out. Because this is the KEY to being in control again.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to budgeting, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered! I’ve written an article for every type of way you could possibly get paid. I even have an article for how to get back on track with budgeting when you’ve screwed up in the month.
- Step-by-step Guide for writing a monthly budget
- How to write a budget when you’re paid biweekly
- How to write a budget when you’re paid weekly
- Budgeting on an irregular income
- How to write a mini budget
3. Stop using your credit cards.
Are you using a credit card to get by every month? Maybe you have a week until payday and you have $0 in your checking account. But you have to buy groceries, put gas in your car, and buy your kid new shoes. So you put it all on the credit card and vow to pay it off when you get paid. The only problem is that you don’t have enough money to pay off the entire credit card, so you just make the minimum payment. Month after month this happens and you wake up one day with thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Sound familiar?
If you continue to follow the same patterns, you’ll continue to see the same results. It’s time to stop using your credit card as your safety net. It’s time to stop using it to cover expenses at the end of the month. Stop the cycle! Will it be uncomfortable to stop relying on your credit card? Probably. Will it be worth the pain? Definitely!
Make a plan so that you are no longer put in the position to use your credit card to cover normal expenses. This means that you might have to cut back in some areas of your life. You might even have to take on a side hustle (learn about 5 amazing side hustles here). But I can promise that it’s worth it. Don’t use your credit card unless you can pay it off each month.
4. Increase your income.
When you’re trying to break out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle, increasing your income can help a ton! Especially when you continue to live on the same amount as before. For instance, years ago my husband took a new job in a different school district. I was pregnant with our second child and had been stressing out about how much two kids in daycare would cost. It would definitely slow down our debt free journey! That summer my husband started looking for a different job in another school district. He ended up taking a position with a pay increase. The coolest part is that his monthly increase was the exact amount that we needed to cover our new child’s daycare! How cool is that? His increased income allowed us to continue on our financial journey.
If you’ve been at the same job for quite some time, ask for a raise. If you’re not 100% happy at your job and you aren’t being paid what you’re worth, then branch out and be open to a different job. You never know what’s out there. And of course, you could always take on a side hustle. Even just a few hours a week of a part-time job can help out tremendously when it comes to breaking free from the paycheck to paycheck life.
5. Have a plan for the future.
When you’re living the paycheck to paycheck life, it’s easy to only focus on one day at a time. How can you make it through this one day? What about next week? While it’s important to focus on each day as it comes, it’s also important to have a plan for getting out of this cycle. This means that it might be time to sit down and take a bigger look at your finances. What goal are you trying to reach? What steps do you need to take to reach those goals? Take time to sit down, write it out, and come up with an action plan!
No one said taking back control of your finances was easy. No one said it would happen overnight. But let me tell you that when you break free from the paycheck to paycheck life, it’s glorious! You won’t regret all the hard work and determination that it took you to get there. I promise! If you need more help with getting your finances in order, check out my amazing budget sheets! They will help you stay organized and be in charge of your money again!