How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 30 Days or Less

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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.

Renegotiate Your Bills

Check out a free tool called Trim that will actually automatically cancel subscriptions that you no longer want and even renegotiate some bills for you.

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 a FreedomPlus loan to get a lower interest rate.

FreedomPlus provides low rates, you can apply online, and you can have funds in your bank account shortly after.

Related Podcast

Try a No Spend Week

This might seem heard to imagine, but it is possible to go an entire week and not spend any additional money. This will involve taking your lunch to work, eating dinner at home, and watching free movies at home.

This can be a great way to cut your expenses in a short period of time, but just no that it is not forever. This can be good while you are trying to get your finances on track so that you can build a little bit of a cushion.

Once you pay off debt and reduce many of your expenses, then you can consider loosening the reigns a bit.

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.

Two of the best survey websites include SurveyJunkie 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 a company like 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. You can even make a full-time living, making thousands of dollars per month driving people around if you want. 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.

Summary

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.

Are you committed to try this for the next 30 days? If so, please let me know in the comments below.


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8 COMMENTS

8 responses to “How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 30 Days or Less”

  1. Joanne Mahoney says:

    This is a good article. I agree that automating your savings is the best way to go, even if it is $10 per month. For many years, I used my raises as my savings. That built my savings quickly. I was used to living on a certain amount, so my salary increases going into savings didn’t feel like a big sacrifice.

    • Chonce says:

      That’s great that you were able to save your raises. That’s often an overlooked method to use, but it’s easy if you’re willing to commit to living within the same standards.

  2. Dividend Diplomats says:

    I couldn’t agree more with challenging everything. Just when you think you’ve scraped the bone, check once more and even a $10/month savings is worth it. Every dollar counts is the motto I live by.

    -Lanny

    • Chonce says:

      That’s a good motto and an important one to remember because we all have to start somewhere and sometimes it’s small but it all adds up at the end of the day.

  3. Anita Bacon says:

    I live on a fixed income. I have been retired for ten years. In 10 yrs, I’ve had 2 cola increases. I don’t have to tell you that my money doesn’t buy today what it did 10 yrs ago. I try to get free gift cards cards to deposit into PayPal and my Wal-Mart account. The process is slow and time consuming, but worth the extra money. I also go one week a month with out spending a dime other than what is in my budget and has to be paid!

  4. Linda says:

    Sadly, every single one of these sites says exactly the same few things. When I look through the list of suggestions on how to save even a little bit of money, I’ve done them all. As a single parent who has to work overtime to make ends meet and take care of my child as well as caring for an elderly parent, I don’t have enough time to get a second job or a side hustle. Whatever time I have left after those responsibilities I’m basically sleeping to maintain my energy to do the same thing the next day.

    I’d like to comment on the fact that Sling TV may only be $20 or $30 a month, but you have to pay for internet in order to access the Sling channels. So you’re not just paying $20 or $30 a month for television. You need to add on whatever your internet provider charges so you can access the channels. Currently, my internet provider charges me $50 a month. This makes my cable TV bill about $80 a month. That still may be cheaper than basic cable alone, but it’s not just the $20 or $30. It’s still not a small bill. Sling TV needs to have a strong Wi-Fi or internet signal, so you usually cannot just get it online from your neighbor’s cable or free cable that may be in your neighborhood. Sling will not work with a weak signal so you actually need to have your own internet provider.

    So, as someone who is in the situation where 50% of Americans are right now, I’d like to make the three only viable suggestions for people in my circumstances. The first one is doing automatic savings even if it’s only $5 a month. This suggestion is at least a good one, I believe. Yes, you won’t reach your golden thousand dollars for probably 2 years and that might feel very disabling. But at least the money will grow. The next suggestion I would make would be find a passive income stream. For example, write a book on Amazon, have clothes or jewelry that you sell on Poshmark or Etsy, etc. Even if you’re an excellent cook and you sell cupcakes to your neighbors during the holidays it’s something that will bring in money that doesn’t require a lot of work or work that you don’t like or work that you usually wouldn’t do. If you love baking and you make cupcakes anyway, maybe just make a hundred more and sell them. These are tiny tiny steps, but when you’re in these tight circumstances telling people that they can get a side Hustle or that they can cut back on other expenses that they’ve already cut back on it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s actually almost insulting. The last thing someone who is working 50 or even 60 hours a week needs to hear is get a side hustle so you can make extra money to save. That lacks consideration for the fact that people who may not be able to save easily aren’t already working their tail off just to pay the bills. The side hustle suggestion is just so inconsiderate in my opinion. The last suggestion I would make is research affordable and creative retirement options as early as possible. Many folks don’t realize that there are affordable and subsidized apartments and living circumstances throughout the United States. So, when they reach retirement, they wonder where they will live where their social security, and possibly retirement savings, will cover their rent and bills. If you are on the list for one of these subsidized or affordable apartments that worry is no longer an issue. Also consider if you can afford to begin putting in for long-term care insurance. Many elderly people need help but do not have a relative or partner that can do it. So, they struggle with daily tasks like taking a shower or feeding themselves. Long-term care insurance is a little expensive but if it’s possible to make it, it would be worth it in the long run so that retirement really can give a respite after a long, hard working life. But this is just a suggestion and the real focus here is to think creatively, open-mindedly, and a bit earlier about really planning for retirement. International retirement is also an option, since if one retires with only social security as your income, your money may go further outside the US.

    So, those are my suggestions. These come from someone who has tried all the suggestions on your site and others and money is still difficult to save. Maybe the folks writing those suggestions have never been in really hard circumstances before and can’t think of how to truly address the working poor and their financial needs. Lastly, make your vote count for elected officials who work to make a livable higher minimum wage a priority.

    • Deacon says:

      I’m sorry you feel that this post didn’t help you. Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different and the helpful tips listed aren’t for everyone. We have made some of the same suggestions you have mentioned, just in different posts. The fact is, there are lots of ways to cut down expenses, make more money, and use your money more wisely. The point is to get started and stop putting it off.
      Thanks for mentioning those tips again and for your comments. I wish you luck and hope you struggle less in the future.

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