Are you curious how you can save money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck?
I’ve been where you are, and it’s a difficult place to be. You work hard, but there never seems to be enough money to go around.
How do you get off the hamster wheel of finances?
I’ll tell you, but you must understand, it’s not easy. It will take perseverance on your part. However, if you’re ready to gain control of your finances, when you’re struggling to make ends meet, here are a few tips to help you along the way:
1. Budget to Save Money
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you must have a budget. You’ve got to know how much money you’re bringing home in comparison to how much money you’re spending.
To stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, a solid budget is where you must start. Put all of your expenses and income on paper to provide a road map to what type of battle you’re up against.
2. Know Where Your Money is Going
Once you know how much money is coming into your home and how many bills you must pay out a month, it’s time to see where any excess money is going.
Look at your bank statement from the past six months. You should see a trend. When we were living paycheck to paycheck, I did this and noticed my husband had a nasty habit of buying soft drinks while he was out during the day.
If you buy multiple drinks, that are almost $3 each on a daily basis, this can add up over time. I had a nasty habit of eating off the dollar menu when I was running errands with the kids. Again, this adds up.
Find where your money is going, identify poor money habits, and start correcting them. Even if you only save $5 a day, by stopping a bad habit, it can add up to $20 or more dollars per week. This is creating instant savings.
3. Trim the Fat When You’re Living
After you’ve created a budget and identified places where your money might be disappearing, it’s time to trim the fat.
What I mean by this is if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, there’s no room for luxuries. Therefore, if you get your nails done, stop it for the time being.
If you have cable television services, or streaming services, stop them. These are luxuries which you don’t need when money is extremely tight.
Again, by stopping these things, you aren’t making extra money, but you are freeing up current money which can now be used for savings or paying off debt.
4. Go Without Luxuries
There are many things we do which are luxuries. If you get your nails done, hair done, have multiple monthly subscriptions, or shop regularly, it’s time to stop.
These things could be why you’re living paycheck to paycheck. When you have money in savings, have learned to live within your means, and have paid down debts, you might be able to afford these things again.
However, when you’re struggling between paychecks, it’s time to put the luxuries back on the shelf until you can afford them.
5. Eat at Home
This was the hardest thing for me when we were living paycheck to paycheck. Financial stress is emotionally and mentally draining.
It feels like a huge weight you carry around constantly, and you remain in a state of worry on a regular basis.
It’s no wonder you don’t feel like cooking. That’s how I felt, too. Eventually, I realized, eating my feelings wasn’t going to solve anything.
In fact, I was just making matters worse by spending money I didn’t really have to spend. Therefore, I learned how to eat cheap foods at home to save even more money.
6. Save Your Change
If you’ve read some of my other posts on getting out of debt, you know I’m a huge advocate for using cash instead of a credit or debit card.
When you see your money dwindling, it makes you think a little more before spending it. Plus, you get change back every time you pay for something.
Take the change, and store it in a container. This is a form of a savings account. If you allow your change to build up for months, you could potentially save $100 or more from change alone.
7. Be Intentional About Driving
When we were living paycheck to paycheck, it had a lot to do with the amount of gas I was using in a week.
This was before I began homeschooling my children, and I was making multiple trips per day to pick-up and drop-off my children at school, for functions, and more.
We made the decision to homeschool after two years of this. As soon as I stopped driving so much, I realized I was spending almost $500 per month on gas! Be intentional about how much you drive because gas can drain your bank account.
8. Call a Credit Counseling Service
Once you’ve trimmed the fat and done all you can to avoid spending money, it’s time to tackle debt.
You might be able to follow Dave Ramsey’s plan and snowball your debt. However, if you feel overwhelmed and don’t have a clue where to start, get some help.
There are non-profit organizations which will help you develop a budget, will work with your creditors, and create a debt payoff plan for you.
I went through Christian Credit Counselors and had a positive experience. However, be sure to do your own research before picking a ministry to help you dig out of debt and stop living paycheck to paycheck.
I am not affiliated with Christan Credit Counselors in any way, and my experience may not be your experience if you use this company. Please do your own due diligence when selecting a credit counseling organization. Credit counseling agencies are not all the same. Do your research!
9. Watch Your Electric Bill
Another money-sucker in my budget, when I was living paycheck to paycheck, was our electric bill.
During the winter, we’d receive bills which were $400 or more! We eventually installed a wood stove to help reduce our heating expenses.
Do whatever it takes to wage war on your electric bill. If it means opening a window, instead of using your HVAC system, do it. You’ll be glad when you save money at the end of the month.
10. Practice Self-Care
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s stressful. Don’t forget about caring for yourself during this time.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, exasperated, and depressed. Find cheap, or free, ways to care for yourself.
Whether it’s taking a hot shower and reading a book, or making a DIY coffee drink and enjoying some silence, these small things can recharge your battery. They may make you feel like you can go one more round.
11. Get Relief
There are times when unexpected life events hit us. One thing I can think of is a medical or dental emergency.
Once the emergency is over, the bills begin to roll in. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you might not be able to afford certain protections like Aflac. However, if you can, invest in these insurances to protect yourself from the unknown.
If you don’t have these protections in place, consider filing for assistance. Many medical facilities offer assistance based upon your income.
It might not erase the debt, but it will hopefully reduce the amount you owe. Once reduced, set-up a payment plan to rid yourself of the debt as quickly as possible.
12. Create a Side Hustle
My last tip for saving money is to create a side hustle. If you have no extra money, after trimming the fat, stopping the luxuries, working with a debt relief program, and asking for help with medical expenses, it might be time to make more money.
You can do this by working an extra job with flexible hours. This might include working for a virtual company or picking up freelance work.
If this isn’t your cup of tea, consider making items to sell or using money saving apps to save money on groceries or to use your change to invest in stocks.
All of these things might help you make some extra money to put towards your savings account.
These are my twelve tips to help you save money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you to take steps towards stopping this cycle. By taking control of your finances, you stand a greater chance at alleviating your financial stress.