Money is often a touchy subject. A lot of people just don’t like to discuss their finances. Most of us rather not even think about money.
We can all agree that either we want or need more of it. There are many people who want more money to be able to do more of the things they love. I think there are even more people that barely have enough money to cover the things that they need. It can seem as if there is too much week and not enough money to get through it.
For those that get paid bi-weekly or monthly I feel your pain. It’s a struggle to make it from one paycheck to the next.
Bad spending habits only intensify that struggle. When we spend mindlessly we often miss the mistakes that are being made that could save us a ton of stress. I’m going to give you some tips on ending the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and even putting aside some money for a rainy day.
Follow these tips and start to grow your nest egg in no time.
Tips on Ending the Cycle:
1. Balance your checkbook.
Many of us get sick at the thought of trying to manage our money or even balancing our checkbooks to see where our money actually goes. But it’s a necessity. You can’t fix the problem until you identify it.
.What are you spending? Track every dollar you spend for a month. Counting every dollar and cent that comes in and goes out is tedious but essential to ending the cycle of living check to check. Balancing your checkbook is the foundation of changing your spending habits.
2. Are you living above your means?
Get real about what you can afford. Where is your money going? Identify bad money habits and snuff them out. Maybe you’re paying too much for auto insurance.
If you are barely able to pay for your cable and internet service each month maybe it’s time to cancel it. Definitely, consider getting a slower internet speed. Reduce your phone service, you may be paying for more data than you need.
3. Create a budget and stick to it!
Make categories for rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment and insurance, groceries, entertainment, restaurants, daycare, household supplies…whatever expenses you have found are recurring.
Make a monthly or weekly budget from the amounts that you tracked that you were spending. Stick to your budget as much as possible. Unexpected things will arise but don’t steer too far off course.
Cut spending by 10%. Figure out where corners can be cut to reduce the amount you are spending. Pack a lunch instead of eating out.
Skip the $5.00, morning latte and brew your own coffee at home. Buying 5 coffees a week is $25 that you could be putting into a savings account. Little things can add up quickly. Pay yourself the 10% to a savings account.
5. Make a bills calendar.
Know exactly when each bill is due so you will be prepared and not scrambling and scraping to come up with the money for forgotten expenses.
It’s a great idea to use your phones event calendar or a regular wall calendar to mark paydays and schedule paying recurring bills so you will know which pay period that each particular bill will fall in.
Mint.com has an easy to use bills calendar and it’s completely free. I use it to track spending and get reminders of when bills are due. It eliminates the grunt work by categorizing each purchase and showing you where your money goes.
6. This may sound crazy but pay occasionally pay bills early.
When you have extra money skip the splurge and pay or pay on an upcoming bill ahead of time. That way when the bill comes up it’s already taken care of and the money can either be used to make an additional payment to get ahead or put into an emergency fund.
7. Pay yourself first.
Don’t save what’s left after you are done spending. Save first then spend what’s left. Many jobs that offer direct deposit will allow you to send money to multiple accounts.
Automate saving 10-15% of your pay by sending the money directly to a savings account before you ever touch it. Don’t rely on yourself to remember to save or to set the money aside. Let technology do the work.
8. Build and emergency fund.
Separate from your regular savings put a little into a separate account for emergency expenses. When you have something set aside in case of an emergency such as a flat tire or a household repair it’s less likely to drive you to the poor house.
9. Plan for large purchases.
Take some time before making large purchases to save. Don’t use bonuses or spend your entire check on a downpayment for something. Instead, save a little toward it at a time to soften the blow of it. That also gives you some time to decide how much you actually want something. You might find that the passion wears off after a couple weeks
10. Use Cash.
Using cash slows your spending. When you only take out the money that you allotted in your budget to spend you are able to visualize what you have spent and what you have left.
Using cards we tend to swipe, swipe, swipe and check our spending later. With cash, it’s right in front of you at all times. Use envelopes for each spending category and deduct as needed.
Monitor progress. As you start to see progress you will be motivated to find other ways to save.