Living paycheck to paycheck is tough, and while it can feel like a challenging cycle to break out of, it’s possible. One person asked finance wizards of the internet how to stop living paycheck to paycheck. Here’s what they had to say.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Get Ahead
Making more money always helps, but one commenter recommends getting disciplined with what you have. “I built up my buffer to cover each month’s bills from the previous month’s income. Then I slowly started adding back in these other discretionary spending categories, so I remained a month ahead.”
2: Make Some Sacrifices
Getting out of debt was a top priority for one commenter, so they cut out all extra spending for almost a year. “It was a horribly dull year but so worth it. Unless you make a ton of money, it’s nearly impossible to budget it properly for the future if you’re always paying off yesterday’s expenditures.”
3: Change Is Necessary
“The trick is to take a really hard look at your budget and accept that ‘something has to give,'” one commenter advises. Whether it’s cheaper housing, breaking an expensive habit, or leaving the comfort of a job. “Decide what it is and decide you are ready to make the change for a better life tomorrow.”
4: Put Up A Fight
It’s not easy making lifestyle cuts, but it could be what’s keeping you stuck. “I think making more money and fighting HARD against lifestyle creep are big factors,” one commenter said. “I also used bonus money to get a month ahead.”
5: Know Where Your Money Goes
One commenter says it depends, but you always need a budget regardless of how much you make. “You might find a lot of lifestyle creep when you start tracking and prioritizing. Sometimes, it was paycheck to paycheck, but I always knew WHY it was paycheck to paycheck. That’s the key.”
6: Budgeting Is Key
One commenter made a six-figure salary but never seemed to have anything left over. “It took me three years to become debt-free, but life has been great since finally deciding to get financially responsible.” How did they do it? “Budgeting helped me quickly identify wasteful spending, and eliminating waste helped me build my snowball.”
7: It Takes Two
“Making more money, paying down debt, and living within my means” is the key to stop living paycheck to paycheck, says one commenter. They believe having a partner with the same outlook on finances helps as well.
8: Get Connected for Less
Changing purchasing habits helped one commenter escape the cycle. “I was making a lot of automatic purchases out of habit, but they didn’t bring me actual joy.” So, they changed the pattern. “Once I started saying no to stuff that was my old default, I found that I had more money to get me through to the next paycheck.”
9: Make More
You can’t change what you can’t control. One commenter agrees with everyone else who says making more money is what you’ve got to do. “You only have so much control over your bills. People often have, in my opinion, much more control over their earnings potential.”
10: Look in the Mirror
One commenter thinks if it were as easy as making more money, no one would be in debt. “It is something to strive for, but take a look at where you are now. Can you move to a cheaper place? Take on a roommate? The list goes on. If you take it seriously and work at it, it will really come together for you.”
11: Phone a Friend
Instead of tackling their finances alone, one person roped in their best friend to hold them accountable and manage their budget. “It helped me get into a more stable pattern to take things back myself. I don’t think this would work without absolute trust between the people involved, but we’ve been friends and housemates far longer than many people stay married, so it worked for us.”
12: Take It Seriously
One commenter says that living paycheck to paycheck means cutting as deep as possible to get yourself into a more stable situation. “When you’re in a position to save, prioritize it. Treat it like a bill as important as your rent/mortgage. It’s non-negotiable. This is where everyone should aspire to be financially.”
13: Everything Adds Up
It’s easy to shell out $10-20 here and there, but it could hold you back. “Saying no to those little things along with actually planning for true expenses rather than trying to find the money for them in a single month or paycheck gradually allowed me to build up money in categories.”
14: Keep Yourself in Check
When one commenter went from making $100K to $20K, they had to think fast to get on a budget. Eventually, they found a way to make $42K work for a family of four. “I still don’t make what we did before, but it feels absolutely lush. Paying attention to what is being spent and not calling wants needs helps a lot.”
15: Take a Look
“I knew we were eating out too much, so every time we are at home, we put $20 in a jar,” says one clever person. “At the end of the month, the jar money went to our most pressing goal. The visual of the jar with money was motivating.”
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