If you struggle every week trying to find the money to make ends meet, you’re not alone. The majority of people are living paycheck to paycheck and it is not an easy or fun way to live. In my new book How to Make a Budget Work For you I outline the step by step details of getting your finances in order and creating a customized budget that fits your income and expenses. If you want to learn how to elevate your life above mere existence and actually enjoy time off to spend with your family, it is going to take some work on your part. It will take discipline and determination, but it is an effort that is worth the work. Here are some tips on how to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
1. Make a plan.
Making a plan for how you are going to spend your money is the first important step to take. A plan doesn’t have to be in the form of a strict budget down to the penny. It does mean making a list of everything that you need to pay and planning out the money you will have for the week. It also means writing out long-term goals and how you plan to meet those goals.
2. Don’t spend money that you haven’t allocated specifically for.
Not spending money that you haven’t allocated for a specific use is hard to do, but vital to stop living paycheck to paycheck. It is amazing how fast money goes when you aren’t paying much attention. If you set aside money for a specific bill, do not spend that money going out to eat with friends.
3. Practice financial fitness.
To be fit, you have to work out and discipline yourself. It is the same with financial fitness, it takes discipline and determination. It will be hard, especially at first, just like when you start a new physical fitness plan. You don’t feel like getting up at 5 a.m. to go for a run. You don’t necessarily want to eat that salad instead of pizza. It takes time and patience to stop living paycheck to paycheck but it is a discipline worth the effort.
4. Find ways to save money.
Finding ways to save money can come from many different areas of your life. Look through your bills, chances are you can cut costs in areas like cable television or your cell phone bill. You don’t have to go without cable television but you can call your provider and ask them how you can lower your bill. The companies know that they have competition and they don’t want to lose your business. They will work with you but if you still aren’t happy with the results find a different provider. The same applies to your cellphone and internet providers.
5. Cut costs that really aren’t necessarily.
If you go out for lunch every day you can cut costs by packing a lunch. If you get expensive designer coffee, opt for coffee made at home and carry it with you in a travel coffee cup. Shop at thrift stores or outlet stores for items like clothing, shoes, and accessories that way you can still buy the brand names you want.
6. Save up and wait to shop for big items until the big sales.
You can save a lot of money by shopping at the big sales. Waiting for a holiday sale or anniversary sale to buy a new flat screen television or laptop can save you a lot over the long run. That gives you time to plan ahead and save up for the purchase.
7. Use store coupons and apps to help you save.
Use store coupons and apps to help you save money whenever you can. You can save money or get money back on your purchases by using one of the many cell phone apps geared for shoppers. Some of the apps use points systems and you can get prizes or gift cards for the points. Other apps will send you a check or direct deposit once a month for spending money in specific stores. It is a valuable resource that anyone with a smartphone can access. Coupons can be used on your phone as well, which makes it easier than clipping paper coupons.
8. Make sacrifices.
It may come down to making sacrifices now to be able to achieve your financial goals in the future. It is a matter of determining what the absolute necessities are, and what you can really do without. Making sacrifices is a smart thing to do to ensure that you will be able to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
9. Stay the course.
Stay the course or don’t give up because you can achieve anything that you determine to. There will be times that are hard and there may be times that you fail but get back on track ASAP. Remind yourself that this is important and you have a plan that you are going to stick with.
If you make a plan, cut costs wherever you can, and stick with it, you will be able to stop living paycheck to paycheck. Find ways to save money by using coupons and apps, shop at peak sale times and do whatever it takes to stay on track. It may take some time to get everything together the way you want. It may take some adjustments here or there. It may take cooking all your meals instead of eating out, but remind yourself of your goals. It takes a lot of hard work but to help take better care of yourself and your family it is worth it.
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