It’s been a long and difficult financial month. You’ve been covering your expenses by the skin of your teeth. You’ve been doing the financial scramble to make sure your account is properly funded. And still, after all of your bills have been paid, you’re about to close out the month while looking down the business end of a negative bank account balance.
Just like last month. And the months before that.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a stress-free financial life? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually make progress on your financial goals instead of scraping for pennies and being overjoyed if you find a nickel?
If you’d like to stop treading water financially, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together four strategies that you can use to stop living paycheck to paycheck for good.
1. Find Out Where Your Money Is Going
When you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, it’s surprisingly easy for money to fall through the cracks.
That’s how you end up in situations where even though you should be able to afford groceries and rent rather comfortably, you can’t because you’re spending more money on gas or subscriptions than you may have originally intended. If you’re into online gaming or you’re an impulse Amazon shopper, those are the types of relatively small expenses that can really add up over the course of a year.
It’s much easier to make plans and stem the financial tide when you know how your money is currently being spent.
Which brings us to the next point . . .
2. Make Spending Cuts
This is one of those pieces of financial advice that’s easier said than done.
But even so, a spending cut doesn’t have to be massive. It could start with shaving a few dollars off of your grocery bill because you bought off the 50% off rack or you opted for frozen fruit.
And that’s before we start talking about the other opportunities you have to enjoy the same standard of living at a slightly lower price.
According to Energystar.gov, an ENERGY STAR-certified thermostat can lower your energy consumption by 8 percent.
The opportunities to save a few dollars every month are out there. All you have to do is keep finding them.
3. Find Alternatives You Can Live With
For many people, the hard part about living frugally isn’t the spending cuts by themselves. It’s having to quit so many things cold turkey.
That’s why even though it may sound counterintuitive, you can save more money in the long run by allowing yourself to spend more on cheaper versions of the things that make you happy.
So for instance, say you’re the type of person who enjoys having pizza and soda on the weekends. It’s less expensive to buy a frozen pizza and a 2-litre at the grocery store than it is to order takeout. Similarly, if you’ve been having a love affair with breakfast muffins, maybe a box of mix every other week can help you cut down on costs.
These little compromises can make it a lot easier to create a sustainable lifestyle change that will help bring you to a more financially secure place.
4. Pay Into Your Emergency Savings Account First
An emergency fund can be the difference between having enough money to cover unexpected expenses and being left in the financial lurch.
At the start of the month, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll put all your leftover funds into savings at the end of the month.
But in practice, it’s often easier to stick to your savings goals when you make a point of paying yourself first. And with the help of auto deposits and other personal finance tools, it’s possible to build your emergency savings automatically.
Living paycheck to paycheck has a lot in common with Newton’s first law of physics. Unless you take the steps needed for change, your finances will continue to be stretched thin every month. And once the financial treadmill becomes your lifestyle, it becomes a lot harder to regain control.
The fact that you’re reading this right now and weighing your options is a step that you should be commended for.
We’ve just given you 4 proven financial strategies that you can use to step off of the financial treadmill for good. Which approach will you start implementing today?