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How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck


How do you feel a few days before your next paycheck? Are you keeping a close eye on your bank account to make sure you can survive? Does the end of the month fill you with dread and fear? Are you struggling to balance all of your bills and expenses so that everything can get paid before they become officially late?

Rather than letting your paycheck control your finances, it’s time to seize it and master your situation. We’ve got some tips to get past the living paycheck to paycheck stage and start reaching your financial goals.

What Does Your Budget Say?

black man working on a budgetDo you have a written down, easy to read budget?

Your budget is the guide and plan for your month when it comes to finances. It tells you what bills to pay, how much money you earn, and how much extra cash you have to work with.

The more detailed your budget is, the better idea you have on where your money is really going. Rather than just hypothesize on why your money disappears each month, keep an updated budget so that you can have hard facts.

If you haven’t recently, build a detailed budget. For one month, keep all of your receipts, bills, pay stubs and put it all into your budget. This will give you a good idea where your money is going and how you can adjust.

Are there gaps in your budget? Should you have enough money in your budget after bills and necessities, but you can’t find it? Likely you are spending it on non-essentials, making your issue harder.

Identify and Eliminate Frivolous Spending

two women eating a fancy dinnerWhat are you buying that is non-essential to your life? It’s more than just your morning coffee or the occasional eating out, it’s a lifestyle change. You need to find where your secret money drains are and why they are siphoning away your cash.

It can be hard to do, but by analyzing your detailed budget and examining your life, you should be able to find out where you are losing money. Maybe it is online shopping, or eating out, or the type of things you buy while grocery shopping. Any and all extra spending makes it harder to save and reach your goals.

Saving Your Extra Money

Now that you have a bit more wiggle room by getting rid of the unneeded spending, it’s time to build your savings. The fear and danger of living paycheck to paycheck is that when life’s emergencies come, you won’t be able to pay for them. Medical emergency, a broken down car, or a small natural disaster like a tree falling down could ruin you financially. That’s why it is important to save up in preparation. 

A great rule of thumb is to have three to six months of expenses saved up at all times. That can seem like an astronomical sum, but it is possible. It all starts with just putting aside a bit of your money every month and before you know it, you’ll be there.

This amount of savings can come in handy in a variety of situations. Just got laid off? You now have some time to job hunt rather than just taking the first one you are offered. Car gets totaled? You now have a good down payment. Got injured and can’t work for a bit? You have time to get back on your feet.

Once you have your safety net fund, you can start building a savings fund for other goals. It could be something to pull from when your cash won’t make it to the end of the month, or you want to splurge and buy something nice by yourself.

Pioneer can help you reach your savings goals with a Special Purpose Savings account. It can help keep your savings separate so you don’t accidentally dip into your safety net and ruin all the work you’ve done.

Get Some Financial Flexibility

woman stretchingLoans and debt are a dangerous tool for those living paycheck to paycheck. One bad mistake could lead to months or years of being under the thumb of debt trying to squirm your way out. 

As you begin to move towards a better financial situation, having a little bit of financial flexibility can be very useful. Rather than pulling from your savings for an expense, or finding yourself unable to reach the end of the month, using a credit card can help you fit those gaps.

You just need to make sure never to take on debts you can’t pay off soon after. If you are paying for something with your credit card, make sure you can pay it off in the next month or don’t do it. Interest rates on a credit card can quickly overwhelm you and put you in a horrible position.

Weigh your options everytime you go to use your credit card. Don’t put large expenses you can’t afford on it, but instead stick to smaller items to help you make it to your next payday. Not only does this give you the means to better your situation, but it will also help build your credit, another important part of financial wellness.

Pioneer’s VISA Platinum Credit Card is a great fit to give you some financial flexibility. You can build your credit while covering regular expenses. 

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