Life would be better if I just had more money. Is that what you hear yourself saying – if only I had more money, I would do this or that? If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, like most Americans are according to a report by bankrate.com, it is time to rethink your spending habits. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is stressful and having too much month at the end of your money is tiring.
I recently worked with a client to get her finances in order. She confessed to me that because of the budget we created this was the first year she didn’t worry about money to spend for Christmas. When you live paycheck-to-paycheck it may seem impossible to save money, especially when you don’t believe you make enough. No matter how much money you make, saving for your future is possible and critically necessary. Here are a few tips to help you save more money.
The best way to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck is to make saving a priority. Set a savings goal and start saving now. Even if it is $5 each paycheck, your money will grow over time. As you get more comfortable setting aside a specific amount, increase it over time to save more and make savings automatic. Be sure to set aside an emergency fund for those unexpected but inevitable events. You should have at least six month’s worth of living expenses saved up in case you lose a job or worse, lose a household earner. If this seems like a huge financial hurdle, it is. But, you have to start somewhere so begin by creating a budget and start saving with your next paycheck.
Create a Budget
If you want to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck and establish an emergency fund, a budget is a surefire way to accomplish this goal. I know what you may be thinking, “if I budget I can’t go out or do anything fun or buy myself anything.” Wrong. A budget is what you want it to be. It is a money management tool but it is also flexible. Budgets can, and should, be adjusted to go along with your ever-changing life and lifestyle.
Cut Back On Expenses
In order to increase savings you need to make more money, cut back on expenses, or do both, if possible. If getting a second job is not an option, or not sustainable, be sure to keep your expenses very low. If you have a cell phone or subscribe to cable, check your plan to make sure you are getting the best deal. When it is time to renew your cell phone plan, shop around for a better deal. Do you ever turn on the television, scroll through the hundreds of channels you have and determine “there is nothing on television”? If so, consider reducing your cable service to the basic subscription. And let’s not forget about car insurance. If you have car insurance and insurance for a home or rental property, make sure it is with the same company. Many companies offer discounts if you have one or more services with them. This is known as bundling.
Get a Second or Part-time Job
Getting a second or part-time job can do wonders for your financial situation. If this is feasible, you can either save more quickly or pay down debt faster. If a second job is not sustainable, get a better job. This may require you to update your skillset by attending night or weekend classes, finishing a degree or getting a specialized certificate. Although this may take some time, it will be worth it. Having an additional job doesn’t have to last forever. It could just be another option to help you get through a financially rough period.
Don’t Use Credit Cards, Use Cash
If you are in the habit of swiping your credit card, use cash instead. Studies have shown that when you swipe a card to pay for purchases you spend 12-18 percent more. In order to avoid racking up debt, and interest if you don’t pay the balance off in full every month, use cash. Parting with your hard earned cash is more difficult than pulling out your debit or credit card at the counter. So, in order to save more money, avoid using plastic. And remember, don’t spend more than you make. It is tempting to put something on your credit card, but unless you can pay the bill off when it comes due, don’t make the purchase.
Assess Your Memberships
Don’t keep paying for memberships or subscriptions you don’t use. When was the last time you went to the gym? If you are paying a monthly fee but never step foot into the gym or don’t use it often enough to make it worthwhile, then cancel your membership. Assess whether you need those magazine subscriptions as well. Rethinking your spending will go a long way with reaching your savings goals.
Look For Free Activities
There are a plethora of free activities you can take advantage of to have a good time, which can save you money. Many cities have free outdoor concerts and even movie nights during the summer. A walk along the beach or in a park is a great way to spend time with friends and loved ones and also gets in a good workout, for free. If you are a lover of the outdoors hiking is also an effective way to explore nature while not hitting your wallet. For those that want to stay indoors, visit your local library to find the books you want to reach or check out a DVD to watch. And if you and your friends are just aching to take that road trip you’ve always talked about, be sure to split the costs.
Saving requires making huge sacrifices, especially on a low salary. It takes a lot of hard work and determination but, in the end, it will definitely be worth it. How would you feel if you didn’t worry about money? Let us know how these tips have helped you or if you have a tip of your own to share.