Paycheck to Paycheck Living Means
Paycheck to Paycheck living means all your money comes in and goes right back out again by the end of the month. That might not seem so bad at first. You’re staying on top of bills after all, right? But if that’s all you’re doing, there’s no way to look to the future—because you can’t afford to save any money yet. And there’s no real security with your money today. One little “life happens” moment can bring it all crashing down.
Hey, if that’s you, you’re not alone. But if you’re stuck in this cycle, you don’t have to stay there. Seriously! Don’t settle for the “not so bad.” Go for great. You’ll get extra breathing room with your money and gain security like you’ve never known.
Why to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Living paycheck to paycheck can feel like getting stuck in a revolving door with your money. You’re going around and around and never going anywhere.
Ways to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- Start budgeting Why? Because when you budget, you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. it’s the first step toward ending this paycheck-to-paycheck life. Don’t put it off. Get on a budget.
- Take care of your Four Walls first. By starting with the Four Walls, you’ll know you’re keeping your family fed, your lights on, a roof over your heads, and gas in the car to get to work. Make a list of everything else you need to pay and tackle it in order of importance
- Stop living with debt Do you really want to sink money into your fancy coffee maker for four months? (No.) Listen. Living with debt (of any kind) is one of the biggest things keeping you in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.Get. Out.Here’s how: First, stop taking on any kind of new debt! That means stop paying for things with a credit card. Say “Heck no” to saving 10% on that cardigan by opening up a store card, which will actually cost you in the long run. Next, kick your debt to the curb by paying it off smallest to largest using the debt snowball.
Think of it like this: When you make your budget, how much of your money goes to debt payments every month? That’s how much extra you’ll take back when the debt is gone. Goodbye, payments. Hello, progress.
- Sell stuffNow it’s time to bring in more money! One of the easiest ways to get your hands on some extra cash is by selling whatever you can. Maybe that’s your jewelry, clothes, baby items, or even the extra car sitting in your garage. (Yes, really! At least think about it.)Look, if you can part with something and get cash, do it! You’ll give your bank account or budget some extra padding, which is overwhelmingly helpful when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
- Get a temporary job or start a side hustleIf you’ve set a budget and sold some stuff, but you still can just barely make ends meet, you might need a steady way to increase your income. Some great options for making extra money are waiting tables, driving for Uber or signing up to be a substitute teacher. There are even plenty of work-from-home jobs you can do after hours or on the weekend too.Yes, it will be hard. But this is only for a season. Once you get some money in savings and debt out of your way, you can slow down again.
- Live below your means This is important, so don’t skip over it: Making more money will do you no good if you keep spending it all (and then some). Don’t start a side hustle and keep living a lifestyle you can’t afford. Sure, it’s tempting to spend more money when you’re making more of it, but don’t do that! Remember why you took on that extra job in the first place. Stay intentional, pay attention, and stick to your budget.
- Look for things to cut.If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this isn’t the time to buy steaks for dinner, take a fancy vacation, or visit your favorite restaurant. This is the time to cut spending. Look for any area in your budget where you can spend less.Cut cable. Call your internet and phone providers to downgrade or stop your service for now. Go to the library and parks instead of spending entertainment money. Stop eating out. (Yes, we said it!)We know making sacrifices like this doesn’t feel good. It hurts! But keep reminding yourself: This is not forever. You’re making temporary sacrifices. It’s time to put in the work now so you can be in a better position in the future.
Don’t give up
When things get harder, remember your why. If it helps to think about the big future goals you’re working toward one day—traveling during retirement, paying for your kids’ college tuition, or buying that condo on the beach—then do that.
If you just need to think one step ahead right now and imagine a life where there’s no fear of overdraft fees or hearing your card has been declined, then focus on that. Because it’s coming.
Remember your why on that shift delivering groceries. Remember your why when you hold back from hitting “add to cart” even though you really want (but don’t need) the shoes. Remember your why when you make your own coffee and skip the barista. Some days will be more challenging than others. And making such a huge change in life will be tough. But you’re tougher.