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Living paycheck to paycheck means that your expenses pretty much equal your income. Your money is spandex tight which makes it difficult to:
This vicious cycle puts you in a vulnerable position because if one thing goes wrong...thassit! The smallest inconvenience causes a big domino effect and it’s extremely difficult to recover.
If you find yourself in this cycle, here are a few tips to break free:
Set aside money that will act as your safety net.
One thing that keeps people in this cycle is the fact that they don’t have anything to protect them from the unknown. So if something pops up they're forced to go deeper into the hole.
Whether it’s $500 or 1 month’s worth of living expenses, start somewhere. At the beginning of my debt-free journey, I only had a few hundred dollars set aside but it was a huge help when I came up short!
This way, your financial progress won't be disrupted should an expense pop up that needs to be covered.
Settle on an amount to save consistently
If you're a saving beginner or just not the most disciplined when it comes to setting money aside, calculate an amount that you can realistically go without.
Don't start out super ambitious, but instead settle on a small amount to give yourself time to get adjusted to going without those funds. Then, as your discipline increases, gradually increase your savings contribution.
Know what is currently coming in and going out.
“I don’t know where my money is going” is something I hear all the time. If you don’t know where it’s going then it’s not going to you.
Yes, I am talking about a budget here. A budget helps to maximize your income and gives you more control over your expenses.
The crazy thing is, you may not even realize that you have money that can be freed up until you see your finances all laid out in front of you.
I’ve worked with clients who swore they needed extra money but came to the realization that they did have enough to fund their goals and pay their bills in full.
It was just that there was a portion going somewhere it shouldn’t have been!
You want to cut and or reduce the amount of money you have going to things that aren’t benefitting you in order to be able to apply more to those budget categories that do.
Leverage any and all extra money
This includes tax refunds, bonuses, court settlements...whatever.
When extra money touches your account see it as a way to accelerate your financial journey because it basically is.
You want to make sure you’re using this money in a way that will benefit you in the long run versus satisfying your current wants.
- What was it that made it difficult for me financially in the past?
- Was there a specific debt or expense that maybe now you could pay up or down?
- Was it something unexpected that popped up and knocked you off track? If so, would saving the money be best?
I recently wrote a whole post on how to level up using your tax refund so be sure to check that out here.
I know, no one likes to talk about sacrificing! I find that it’s especially difficult because your pride takes a beating but it could be one of the most powerful things you do to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
- Are you living someplace that is way too expensive?
- Driving a car that is eating up your income?
- Paying for service with all the extra perks?
Let the pride go girlfriend and look at the largest expenses in your budget. Going after the big fish will quickly benefit you the most versus going after all of the small fish.
Monetize your skills
When you want to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, you’ve got to find a way to get your income above your expenses!
If you’ve cut out and reduced everything that you can then the most logical thing to do is to make more money.
And no, this does not have to include punching another clock. Heck, you don’t even have to do it consistently!
But beware, depending on what you have going on already, you can easily burn out!
Because of this I always recommend choosing a side hustle that aligns with your interests because if you just choose a hustle because of the money it’s a good chance you’ll get so miserable that you’ll quit.
When I needed extra money, I wrote down 3 of my skills and listed ways in which I could monetize them. Then, I choose the one that lit me up the most, which was writing and it brought me in up to $400 extra per month!
Your quest to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle may not be a super quick and easy process, but consistency is key to shifting your finances. Awareness is the first step.
You've got this girl!