How I Stopped Living Paycheck to Paycheck
I can’t believe I’ve been at The CW for almost nine months, now! Time flies! And while there have definitely been ups and downs in my financial stability (ex: when I totaled my car on 440), I’ve been able to live comfortably and on my own since graduating from college. Last summer, I was just barely getting by from paycheck to paycheck but I have found a way to manage my spending and even, put some money into savings.
Being financially responsible is a very important trait to learn and to have. The harsh reality of our society is that many things do depend on your financial standing. Although money can’t buy happiness, it does affect your health, freedom, and well-being in life. An important reminder is that no matter your income, anyone can make financially responsible choices and be money-savvy.
What are my secrets to doing more with less money? How was I able to stop living from paycheck to paycheck?
STEP 1. I CREATED A BUDGET
If you’re serious about saving money, you need to create a budget. Determine your monthly expenses and calculate the cost of living for each week. (You can utilize excel.) My monthly expenses include insurance, utilities, student loans, food, gas, dog care, car payments, rent, personal, and misc. Calculate your expenses and make sure they do not go over your monthly income… and include some wiggle room! So, it should look something like this:
Monthly income: $2,500
- Utilities: 150$
- Loans: 222$
- Insurance: 20$
- Food: 100$
- Gas: 80$
- Dog Care: 80$
- Car payments: 333$
- Rent: 825$
- Savings: 300$
STEP 2. I PAUSED BEFORE SWIPING
Monitor your spending and stick to your budget! By tracking your spending, you can see if you go over a limit or where you can make an improvement. It’s may seem difficult but it pays to be gingerly with your money. Ever walk into Target for Eggs and come out with a hundred dollars worth of stuff you don’t need? Me too.
Say goodbye to impulse spending. Before you buy, ask yourself:
- Is this a need or a want?
- If I buy this, will it take money away from something I’ve been saving for?
- Can I wait 3 days to think about it?
- Can I buy something similar for less?
- Will I be sorry I bought this later?
STEP 3. I TOOK ADVANTAGE OF FINANCE APPS
We live in a world filled with awesome technology and we should take full advantage of it! Money-back apps like Ibotta and Cartwheel help me save with every purchase. I also swear by the Digit app. Digit helps you build a savings account by automatically taking money from your checking account and adding it to savings each week. Through tracking your recent transactions and spending habits, it determines how much you can afford to save. It’s FDIC insured and has customizable options as well! Click here to learn more about Digit.
Want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? Learn how to do more with less money with these tips from @CarlyNed!
STEP 4. I CUT COSTS AT HOME
I’d love to live in a beautiful condo with professionally decorated rooms and a closet big enough to fit both my Winter AND Summer clothes at the same time… but realistically, all we can afford is a 600 sq ft. apartment. Be realistic about your choices and be honest about what you can or cannot afford. Also, look for small ways to cut costs in your home —Turn off the air conditioning at night and open the windows. Air dry your clothes and dishes. Take shorter showers.
STEP 5. I STARTED SHOPPING SMARTER
Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you can find it for cheaper. Shop smarter by looking for the lowest price. This past year we started shopping at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is my all time favorite grocery store because of their great quality and awesome prices! Tyler and I make a big food purchase at the beginning of the month that lasts us until the following.
Additionally, all the furniture in our apartment is from Craigslist or Offerup. We head to Plato’s Closet or Goodwill for clothes. We’ve easily saved THOUSANDS by shopping second-hand.
Always keep the long run in the back of your mind. When budgeting and saving get frustrating, I remind myself of the end goal of working from home and living at the beach. Making some sacrifices (like skipping on Starbucks coffee or buying the cheaper toilet paper) won’t seem so big compared to your huge dreams. Be frugal now so you can live the life you’ve always wanted to later.
Let’s start the conversation: Would you rather splurge on a nice dinner or a cute top?