A lot of people across America live paycheck to paycheck, and it can be hard to keep track of bills and living costs. Fortunately, there are solutions when it comes to keeping your budget in control – and it’s easier than you might think. Here are 9 top tips for budgeting in between paychecks.
It doesn’t matter if you can only spare $5 a week – anything you can manage to put aside into an account you don’t touch will be a huge help for the future, in case an emergency comes up and you need some extra cash. Many banks will offer options where you can place money in an account that’s locked unless you specifically ask them to open it, or until a set date. This can be useful if you often give into temptation or find that money burns a hole in your pocket. Plus, having some spare money that you know is available will give you peace of mind.
Received a sweet payday bonus? While it may be tempting to head straight to the shops, if you have a credit card or outstanding bill that would benefit from being boosted financially right now, invest in your finances – not your wardrobe. You’ll be grateful you did so during the months you may struggle a bit more to make ends meet.
So you’ve sat down and outlined all your financial incomings and outgoings over the next few months, but it’s one thing to make some neat notes and another to actually go out into the world and stick to it. Many people will tell you that it takes six weeks to form a new habit, so if you’ve made the decision to cut out your morning Starbucks or take the bus more often, be aware that it will initially be difficult to make these changes.
Lots of people will reward themselves for things like giving a great presentation or getting top marks on a paper by spending money on a treat, but this doesn’t always have to be the way you mark achievements. There are nice things you can do for yourself which cost next to nothing, such as having a long bath, watching your favorite movie or calling up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to have a catch up.
Using services like Accredited Debt Relief and CuraDebt to consolidate your debt can be helpful if you have debt from various creditors to manage. It is also easier to budget into your monthly financial plan, as you’ll have just one cost to pay each month as part of a single lump sum.
Do you need to be signed up to Netflix AND Hayu? Is Amazon Prime really essential if you barely order anything from that site? Have you got a monthly gym subscription regularly being taken from your account, despite the fact you’ve never set foot inside? Taking some time to de-clutter your finances can set you up for success in the long run, as all these direct debits or standing orders you may have forgotten about could save you a lot of money once they’ve been removed.
It’s easy to just throw the change you’re given in a shop into a pocket, or stuff it into the bottom of your bag. But it all adds up, and you could soon be left wondering why you keep running out of money. The answer is because it’s all tucked away in various places you’ve forgotten about! Try looking through your bags, pockets, inside the sofa and under the bed to see how much spare change you can find. Then put it in a piggy bank and get into the habit of depositing it there every time you’ve got some. It’s hugely satisfying to head down to the bank after a few months and get it deposited to your account – maybe it will even help to pay off an upcoming bill in advance!
If you get paid on the 1st but have a bill due on the 30th of the month before, try getting your due dates moved to match your paycheck. That way, if all your bills get automatically taken from your account on the day you get paid, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that there’s nothing left over – plus you can see a more realistic figure of what you’ve got left over to meet your other costs.
Payday loans from companies such as Advance America and CashCentral can help if an emergency comes up in between paychecks, but it’s much more helpful to you if you have money saved up to help out first. You should ensure that, if you do take out a loan, you can repay it in full as soon as you’re paid, to avoid any further issues.
Knowing what incomings and outgoings you have is a good start, but you can take things one step further by monitoring what you’re spending where over the course of each month. Before you start, it could be worth checking over your previous bank statements and seeing where you can afford to reduce costs. Then you could set up some rules to try out, such as ‘I will only buy takeaway every Friday, not every night’. Good luck!