Living paycheck to paycheck is stressful. You may struggle to pay the bills, be in debt, and not have any savings you can rely on in case of an emergency.
Unfortunately, there are many people who are in the same position. One poll showed that 56% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and 48% have recently experienced financial setbacks.
You, as well as millions of Americans, want to stop living paycheck to paycheck but you just don’t know how. Here are some helpful tips on what to do to get out of this cycle and forge a brighter financial future.
Evaluate Your Financial Situation
It’s important to get a clear picture of where you are financially when you’re trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck. List the balances for all your bank accounts and debts, and carefully review your recent transactions. You can also look at your free credit report on a site like Experian.
Along with evaluating your spending, see if there are any fees you’re being charged or services you’re spending money on that you may not know about. You can get in touch with your bank or credit card provider about these fees to try to reverse them, as well as cancel any unwanted subscriptions.
Budget Your Money
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it may be because you’re spending more than you make. By budgeting, you can ensure you’re not overspending. You can make a list of all your expenses on a spreadsheet or look at where your money’s going with the help of an app like YNAB or Mint. Then, figure out where you can cut back. Typically, 50% of your money should go to your needs like shelter, utility bills, and transportation, 30% should go to wants like eating out and new clothes, and 20% should be allocated to debt and savings. By cutting back on the wants category, you could start saving big time.
Change Your Lifestyle
You may be stuck in a situation where your bottom line expenses like your housing, utilities, and transportation are just too high, which means you’ll have to make some hard decisions about your lifestyle. Even if it’s temporary, you could find a new place to live, whether it’s a smaller home in your current town, or a cheaper town in general. If you have an expensive car payment, you might want to trade in your vehicle for something a little more economical. If you eat out all the time, you could buy groceries and meal prep at home. Though these changes can be difficult, you will thank yourself later when you’re able to live a much better lifestyle because you’re not worried about when your next paycheck is coming in.
Build Your Savings Account
Everyone should have a savings account they can turn to in their time of need. For instance, if they have a medical emergency or expensive car repair or they lose their job. Building up a savings account as much as possible will ensure you have more to fall back on when you need it. However, getting started with saving up can be tough. If you know you’re going to struggle with it, then you can set up an automatic transfer into your savings account whenever your paycheck comes in.
You could also establish a rule for yourself where you transfer a certain amount of money from every paycheck into your savings before paying for anything else. Even if you’re only transferring a few dollars, at least you’re being proactive and creating good financial habits. To boost your savings, you can always sign up for a high-yield savings account, which will give you a much better interest rate than a regular savings account.
Get a Second Job
You may not be making enough money to support your lifestyle. If this is the case, then you could always find a second job. Whether you take on a part-time job or a side hustle, bringing in more income could help you stop living paycheck to paycheck. You may be able to make money selling your things you no longer use, renting out a room in your home on Airbnb, making original items and selling them on Etsy, creating an online course, or finding jobs on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
Take on Your Debt
All of your money could be going towards your bills and debt, making it impossible to save up any money. You could stop using your credit cards and instead only spend the money you have in your bank account. Every month, you can put more money towards one credit card and then pay the minimums on all your other cards. You will then be able to eliminate your debt one card at a time. Another idea is to call up your credit card companies and see if they will negotiate your interest rate and make it lower. You could utilize balance transfer cards, which will offer you 0% interest for a certain period of time, and pay off your debt before the promotional period is over.
Ask for a Raise
If you’ve been working at your job for some time and you’ve never gotten a raise, or it’s been a while since your last raise, you could speak to your boss or HR manager about possibly receiving one. Remember to have some proof handy that shows why you deserve a raise. You could always respectfully negotiate a higher raise than the one they are offering as well.
Find a New Job
Your job might not be paying you enough. If you don’t think you can get a raise, then you could try to switch to another job, or perhaps another profession that pays better. Start your job search as soon as possible, but don’t quit your current job until you’ve accepted a new position. Again, if the salary isn’t high enough, you can negotiate with your new employer to start at a higher number.
Cut Back on Your Tax Bill
One of the reasons you could be living paycheck to paycheck is because you have a high tax bill to pay. If you do your taxes with TaxAct, it has tools to help maximize your eligible deductions and credits to reduce your tax bill. All you have to do is figure out which TaxAct plan works for you – Free, Deluxe, Premier, or Self Employed – and get started today.