Living from paycheck to paycheck is one of the more frustrating financial situations you can find yourself in. It’s basically like you’re working for nothing more than your basic needs and daily expenses, and you find yourself in a financial rut whenever anything unexpected comes up, or you tend to stay home whenever your friends plan a trip or even a night-out simply because you can’t afford it. For the lack of a better, more appropriate phrase, living from paycheck to paycheck just sucks. How can this be alleviated?
Of course, like with any other problem, it all begins with acceptance. Knowing you’re not in an ideal financial situation is different from accepting it. Only when you accept your situation will you then recognise that you do need to change it, and you’ll be able to do so with a clearer head and without emotional or mental barriers that hinder your development. Have we accepted that we live paycheck to paycheck? Yes? Good. Let’s start identifying ways through which we can change that.
Develop a Budget
Most of our financial troubles stem from either a poorly developed budget or worse, a total lack of one. Budgets are extremely important to the health of our personal finances. Usually, not having a personal budget is the reason why we live the paycheck-to-paycheck way of living. A budget allows you to assess all of your finances, from the money that comes in to all of the money you spend. Based on how thorough the budget you create, you can find specific aspects of your personal finance you can actually put aside for your savings. Budgets work best when you categorise all of your expenses as clearly and as specifically as possible. By monitoring all of your expenses, you can take charge of your money management and end up with cash still by the time your next paycheck rolls around.
Establish Attainable Financial Goals
When smokers attempt to quit smoking, or when people trying to lose weight go on a diet, they all establish a measure of positive reinforcement, a rewards system, to motivate them. The same principle works for those trying to save money. Maybe there are items that you’d like to save up for that will help you focus on minimising your spending? It doesn’t have to be something big. Something small and attainable will be enough to get you going. This is all about building momentum and forming habits. If you’re trying to establish new spending habits, an attainable goal will help you establish those hard-to-instill habits easier.
You may not want to do it, and you make a completely thorough budget, but you won’t be able to alter your financial status if you don’t control and minimise your spending. The reason why you’re living from paycheck to paycheck is that you don’t mind how much you spend and where you spend it on. Try to limit your spending on basic needs, and if you’re going to buy something you don’t exactly need, then it should be something that generally improves you as a person and even helps you save money (like studying again to earn more credentials, or switching from one kind of airconditioner to an energy conserving one).
Deal with your Debt
If a big portion of your paycheck goes to paying for your debts, then logic dictates that you’re going to have to settle those debts for you to avoid dealing with living from one paycheck to the next. If you do create a budget, then make sure that your personal finance management just doesn’t take your debt into consideration, but is also designed to ensure the fastest way you can settle those debts. Debts grow over time, and the longer they remain unsettled, the bigger threat they are to your savings (or your hope of actually having one).
Speaking of savings, your main focus should be to establish a savings. This is the technical way of actually preventing living from paycheck to paycheck. By having money left over by the time your paycheck comes, then you’re no longer living from paycheck to paycheck. However, the reasoning behind the need for a savings goes beyond that. Having money set aside at all times means that if you ever do encounter emergency situations or unexpected expenses, you’re not going to be broke. This also ensures that, if you’ve managed to save money consistently, when you grow old, you have a comfortable nest egg to rest on. Saving money is always a smart choice, whether you’re living from paycheck to paycheck or not.
Find Alternate Sources of Income
Let’s say that you do have a budget, and your spending has always been in check, and you have little to no debts to speak of, and yet you’re still living the paycheck-to-paycheck way of living. If this is the case, then, to put it bluntly, you simply aren’t making enough to live comfortably. Regardless of your living situation and your educational background, there’s no acceptable excuse in refusing to explore additional sources of income. Whether it’s part-time jobs, or business opportunities, if you have the time and capability to make more money, then make more money. Living from paycheck to paycheck may be fine for you now, but remember, you have a future you’ll need to build a financial foundation on. Don’t waste the time and opportunities that you have now.
Use Credit Cards Wisely
Credit cards can both be a boon or a bane to your personal finance. Sure, credit cards allow you to make purchases and other financial transactions easily, but if not properly managed, you can be staring at crippling credit card debt and a bad credit history that will affect all your financial decisions in the future. Credit cards are more than a privilege; they’re a responsibility. That’s why it’s super important for you to establish the kind of discipline it takes to know exactly when and where to use your credit card and where and when not to. Your management of the credit card can ultimately dictate where your financial life goes, so manage it well.
Living a life that’s completely dependent on a paycheck isn’t the ideal way to live, especially considering that if you get sick, not only will you have to deal with medical expenses, you’ll have to work, too, with a smaller amount of money due to the pay cut you’ll be getting. This is the kind of lifestyle that’s the very definition of dead end. It might be fun or adequate now, but years from now, you’ll definitely be regretting it. Get your financial affairs in order as soon as possible. The key here is discipline. Instead of creating a budget lasting till the next paycheck, establish a regular personal finance management system with the required adjustments already implemented.
That’s a fancy way of saying stop spending so much and start thinking about your finances for a change. It’s not going to be easy, but it definitely will be worth it. You could also educate yourself further to help you save. There are plenty of online resources on the internet today. Do your research. Read through books and resources—anything to help you get started onsaving more and living less on your paycheck.
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