Are you living paycheck to paycheck? You are not alone. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to Gallup Polling. If you are one of these people, it can be tempting to buy the things you want when you want them without any regard for the future or your financial health. However, even if you don’t have enough money in your bank account to make ends meet right now, it doesn’t mean that things will always be this way. Take these steps to start saving money today, no matter how broke you are right now.
Saving Money is a Skill
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck it may feel like you don’t have any room in your budget for saving. It seems like every other dollar is spent on things that can’t be cut out entirely. However, just because you can’t save $1,000 doesn’t mean that you can’t save $100 or even just $20 each month. Saving money is a skill and everyone needs to start somewhere. Don’t stress if you can only save pennies right now; practicing small habits will make you more successful when bigger expenses arise. Plus, there are little ways to pinch pennies without reducing essentials; instead of eating out for lunch every day, pack your own meals at home—and toss some change into savings each time you hit up Chipotle on Wednesday.
Saving Money is a Process
Start by making a realistic budget that accounts for all of your expenses. If you’re not sure how much you spend each month on certain items (groceries, utilities), track it for a few months to get an accurate picture. And keep in mind that saving money is often about saying no. If you aren’t sure whether or not something is important enough to spend your hard-earned cash on, walk away from it and focus on what really matters most. Chances are, you’ll be able to buy something similar with cash once your emergency fund has grown large enough.
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Put Cash Into Your Savings Account Automatically
Automate monthly contributions to ensure more of your income makes its way into savings. As soon as you get paid—whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or every two weeks—have that same amount transferred directly into your savings account before any bills are due.
Tips to Save on Groceries
Instead of buying a brand-name grocery item, buy a generic version. These usually taste just as good and cost less. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck it might seem difficult to plan meals for your family. But with some creativity and planning ahead you can still enjoy home-cooked meals on a budget.
Try these tips to save money on groceries.
- Plan out your week’s menu beforehand so that you have an idea of what ingredients will be needed for each meal.
- Set aside one night a week to cook in bulk so that leftovers can be used later in the week when time is limited.
- Make sure everyone knows what is being served at dinner so that no one goes hungry or reaches for unhealthy snacks when hunger hits in between meals.
- Always shop around for a sale before making a purchase. It pays to comparison shop online and then visit several local stores to see if they have better deals than their competitors.
Tips to Save on Transportation Costs
Cars are often one of the largest monthly expenses, but there are ways to save on transportation costs. First, think about taking public transportation or carpooling with co-workers or neighbors to reduce your fuel bills. If you ride a bike instead of driving for short trips, parking fees will be saved as well. Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, swapping out your vehicle for a more fuel-efficient model can save you hundreds per month in gas alone!
This includes upgrading from an SUV to a standard sedan—most hybrids still get plenty of power behind them without needing extra fuel intake. A simple step that can have big results? Lowering your speed. Every five miles per hour over 60mph means 20% more gasoline being burned, so lowering just ten miles per hour can potentially cut costs by 10%.
We all have our personal preferences about how we want to get around town—and depending on circumstance, financial restrictions might limit options. Don’t feel pressured into buying or leasing a new car if you don’t want to do so. There are lots of different types of vehicles available, most notably used cars (including those only a few years old). These lower-cost alternatives make great solutions for individuals who need cars—but don’t necessarily need newer models.
Many of us live paycheck to paycheck and never see a way out. If you find yourself in such a situation, all is not lost: there are ways to overcome your financial troubles and become debt-free. By developing a spending plan that really works for you and sticking to it as much as possible, you can dig yourself out of debt and begin enjoying life again.