In an interesting piece for credit.com, Leslie Tayne outlines some tips on breaking what is for many the seemingly never-ending (and stress-inducing) paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
- Recognize the Issue
“The first step to ending the cycle is identifying the problem. Know that you are not alone and there are ways to change this unhealthy lifestyle. Ask yourself, what is causing the issue? Are you putting too much toward your savings? Spending too much on nonessentials, like eating out every week? See what you can do to change this type of behavior, and take your first step in the process.
- Eliminate Nonessential Expenses
“If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you may be spending more than you earn. Look at your budget from the past three months to see how much you’ve spent on discretionary items. This could be dinner, movies, luxury items, lunch, etc. Do your best to cut back on things you don’t really need, which will help boost your cash flow and provide more to live on.
- Increase Your Income
“An effective way to end the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is to try to earn more than you can, when you can. This can mean applying for a part-time job, finding a side hustle or doing freelance work when there’s time. This will not only increase your income but reduce your financial stress. You will no longer have to worry about how much money is in your account if you have a back-up plan.
- Start Saving
“You may be thinking the last thing you can do right now is save. But it can be done! Having a small security blanket will help you in the long run. It also will prevent you from returning to the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. You may lose your job or have a medical emergency, but having an emergency fund or savings account will help you prepare for the unexpected. You can even use this money to pay off high-interest credit card debt. A little can go a long way.
- Create a New Path
“As you slowly leave the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, you will begin to see the money pile up in your checking account. Try not to spend it at once. Consider putting this extra money toward bills or debt. Set a reminder so you know when bills are due, as you don’t want to get hit with a late charge. As you continue to keep a healthy routine, you will not only see your credit score increase, but you will also have a healthier financial future. (Not sure where your credit score stands? You can view two of your scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.)”