America the beautiful and land of the free brings hopes and dreams of prosperity living to many people worldwide. When you look deep within, however, you will find many people have very different dreams…some as simple as getting by until the next pay day. For many it seems as though there is always too much month and not enough money to stretch it to the end. Some bills get paid on time (hopefully), while others are left on the back burner till the next check. There’s no breathing room in the budget for anything extra. And let’s not talk about saving money…there’s no money left to save!!!
Have you ever felt like this? The frustration of how far your money can stretch…or sleepless nights worrying about creditors calling, utilities being turned off for nonpayment and the fear of an eviction notice taped to your door. What do you do and how much longer will you live like this? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired and ready for a change? Well, here are eight easy steps you can use to get you away from living paycheck to paycheck and help you meet your financial goals!!
- Change Your Mind about your relationship with money. Without a mindset change it is almost impossible to get out financial distress and become a success (hey, that rhymes!). Why do you hear so many stories of people who win the lottery and then go broke after a few years? It’s because their view on money still hasn’t changed. Money doesn’t grow on trees…so stop spending it like it does!
- Get a Game Plan that includes your financial goals and the steps you are going to take to make it come to pass. Write out your plan. Know what debts you have and what your monthly bills consist of. It is always amazing to me how people complain about financial situation being so bad yet they have no clue on how much debt they have or even what their monthly expenses are. Compare your monthly expenses and debt payments to what you bring in each month. Create financial goals that are realistic to your personal situation.
- You need a Personal Budget to be successful at this. I know just the word “budget” makes many people cringe at the thought of dealing with creating a financial plan. Each month you should have a personal budget that represents the income and expenses you predict for THAT month. This month you may need an oil change, add that to the budget! Make sure you add a portion for incidentals or the unexpected expenses. I’ve seen many budgets (including my own) go to shreds when an unexpected bill comes through. Don’t be caught off guard- know where your money is going AHEAD of time!
- Spend LESS than you Make! This is such a simple concept yet apparently so difficult to do. There are so many ways to spend more than you make- credit cards are happy to assist you with that (for a hefty fee). How about we try something a little different and actually spend LESS than what we make. That would mean there would be extra money left over that is not allocated to a debt or on our frivolous spending habit. Of course you will need a budget to get an accurate picture of how you will do this.
So, if you make $2,000/month how about you just spend $1,880 for the next month? It’s only $20 but it’s important you start somewhere. Slow and steady wins always. Maybe the following month you can decrease your spending another $20. Take it 1 step at a time!
- Be honest with yourself and cut out some of the excessive spending. Come on, let’s be REAL with each other. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck you need to cut out anything that is extra…like cable…like that gym membership…like the unlimited everything you have on your phone. When you’re honest with your money I’m sure you can come up with a few things you can cut. Start off with something really small and overtime (as you see improvements in your finances), you’ll be motivated to cut more!!
- Learn the word “No!!” Say it to yourself and to others sometime. Enough said.
- Stay away from things that are clearly not on your budget! Recognize that the small things really do add up. Don’t spend $ on that new dress and then complain about your paycheck to paycheck situation!!
- Be patient and don’t give up. It’ll take some time to get use to your new money management ways. Don’t worry this is normal. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Challenge yourself each month to a new level in reaching your ulitmate financial goals. Be patient- you’ll see everything will work itself out!
Hope you find this helpful and a good starting point to get you out of living paycheck to paycheck. As always I love feedback and comments!!!