Living paycheck to paycheck is no real way to live. You’ll often be stressed out about paying your bills and being able to handle a financial emergency.
When times are tough, even the tiniest unexpected expense can cause panic or put you in debt. You’ll have to say no to certain opportunities if they arise before payday.
Ultimately, your paycheck will run your life and dictate what you can and can’t do despite your needs. According to a recent study cited by MarketWatch, at least half of Americans are desperately living paycheck to paycheck and that doesn’t mean they’re happy with their circumstances.
If you’re longing to find a way out and escape this cycle, you’ll need to start saving some of your money.
How can you do that when you’re just barely scraping by and have just enough to make ends meet? The truth is, most people start saving money despite living paycheck to paycheck by doing three key things.
Challenge Your Expenses
If you want to start saving more money, it’s crucial that you examine and challenge all your expenses to make sure you know where every dollar is going.
It’s also a good idea to identify the areas of your budget where you might be overspending and wasting money. It may not sound like a lot, but spending an extra $5 here and $10 there can really add up.
Go through your expenses line by line and see which ones you can possibly cut.
If you still have cable, you can cut your bill by choosing a T.V. subscription service like Sling TV instead. Sling TV allows you to stream live content from cable channels and also has an on-demand option so you can watch your favorite shows later.
With Sling TV, can choose from a $20, $25 or $40 monthly subscription and use the service for free for 7 days to test it out.
Also, consider expenses you might take for granted like insurance. While insurance is an important and sometimes required expense, you may be overpaying for it. Be sure to shop around and compare insurance rates to see if you can find cheaper coverage.
Esurance is a popular insurance company that sells auto, home, motorcycle, and renter’s insurance to customers at an affordable rate. The best thing about Esurance is that they offer lots of discounts and quotes online which allow you to compare their coverage to competitors.
I recently used Esurance to compare quotes for auto insurance and found out I could save $21 per month after switching to them. It’s not a ton of money since I already had a somewhat low premium, but it’s better that what I’d been paying and the savings will add up.
If you’re looking for others ways to cut your expenses and stretch your dollar so you can save more, here are a few other things you can try doing.
- Start dining out less and plan meals to cook at home
- Pack your lunch for work
- Price match for groceries and goods
- Buy used clothes
- Attend free events for entertainment
- Turn your lights off at home and unplug devices when you’re not using them
- Reduce bank fees by switching your bank
Refinance Your Debt
If you have debt, saving money while living paycheck to paycheck can seem nearly impossible. In most cases, any extra money would go toward your debt not to mention, you’ll spend additional money paying interest if you only make minimum payments.
With credit card debt, it can be the worst because as soon as you pay it down, you’re often faced with the option of spending on the card again.
For any high-interest debt you have, a solid solution would be to refinance it. Refinancing your debt involves getting a new loan with a new lender. Refinancing does require that you have your credit pulled which can result in an inquiry, but it often provides you with a lower interest rate and/or a lower monthly payment.
With a lower interest rate, more of your monthly payment will go toward the principal balance instead of interest. Therefore, you can pay off your debt faster and spend less money in the process.
If you have high-interest student loans, personal loans, credit card debt, or even mortgage debt, you should consider refinancing with SoFi to get a lower interest rate. SoFi stands for ‘social finance’ and it is a lending and wealth management company that has helped 260,000 members save $1.45 billion by refinancing their debt.
Sofi provides low rates, no fees, and can provide you with an offer in as little as 2 minutes.
Find a Way to Earn More
You can’t really save money if you don’t have any which is why it’s also important to focus on ways to earn more after you’ve gone over your expenses and reduced them.
If you’re trying to build up some emergency savings, earning extra money through a side hustle and depositing all your earnings into a savings account can really help you get ahead.
There are so many ways to earn extra money on the side so it really depends on what your needs are, your skill set, and what you like to do.
Also, you’ll want to consider the time you have available to dedicate to earning extra money. If you’re looking for an easy way to earn extra money fast, you can try taking surveys online which doesn’t require any special skills.
Some of the best survey websites include SurveyJunkie, Opinion Outpost, and Harris Poll. The great thing about taking surveys for extra money is that it’s flexible work so you can take surveys before work, during your lunch break, or even while watching T.V.
Another easy way to earn extra money is to drive for Uber or Lyft. This is also a flexible option that will allow you to work whenever you want and you can make hundreds per week driving on the side. See this post for more extra income ideas.
Bonus Action Step: Automate Your Savings
In order to consistently get into the habit of saving money, you’ll want to pay yourself first and automate your savings by setting up automatic transfers every month.
Set a realistic savings goal and treat it like a regular bill. No matter what your income is, you have to prioritize saving over spending in some cases. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to set aside any money.
You can set up automatic transfers monthly, weekly, or each time you get paid to ensure your saving account grows consistently.
That way, you won’t forget to save or simply leave the extra money in your account and spend it instead. Automating your savings is one of the quickest ways to build an emergency fund or save up for a big expense.
Saving money while living paycheck to paycheck isn’t easy, but it’s possible and worth it. Use these tips and strategies to help you lower your expenses and increase your income so you can save more.
The more you are able to save, the more financially stable you’ll become and as a result, this will break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.
See All of Your Accounts in One Place
There is a FREE tool called Personal Capital that will connect all of your accounts like your bank, investment accounts, etc.
This will not only help you see all of your accounts in one place, but it also has a budgeting component where it automatically categorizes your transactions.