A few decades ago, people in stable jobs living paycheck to paycheck was relatively unheard of. But these days, for many families, it is an all too consistent reality. This is down to a number of different things: the rising cost of living, many people being in debt, lower wages and zero hour contracts. Being without this kind of financial stability, especially when you have young children, can be incredibly difficult, and you may find that you need to be hyper-aware of your spending at all times. The concept of paycheck to paycheck living has one major impact on family life, and that is the inability to keep a handle on any savings. This could mean a distinct lack of luxuries such as family holidays – or, if you are not currently a homeowner, it could mean years of putting up with sub-par rental properties. Although at opposite ends of the spectrum, neither of these scenarios are ideal and can have an adverse impact on you and your children. But without the likelihood of a pay rise or a sudden rush of inheritance, is it possible to get by living paycheck to paycheck? It certainly won’t be easy, but yes – there are ways around it. Here are a few hints on how you can successfully manage your money, and even manage to put some away into a savings pot.
Buy essentials in bulk
This may seem like an unnecessary expense at first – even one that is way out of your price range. But capitalizing in size on things you know you’ll always need, can have its benefits. Say, for example, that your usual cleaning products, or favorite toothpaste, is on offer at your local store. Buying a bunch of them, and keeping them tucked away for when you need them, can end up saving you money in the long run. Plus, this way you can live with confidence for a few months knowing that you don’t have anything essential to buy. Other good items to purchase in this manner include frozen food, toilet roll, and shampoo/shower products.
Become a coupon queen
Okay, so most of us have seen the expose-style TV shows that center around people who are crazy for couponing. But, contrary to what these shows would have you believe, the vast majority of people who coupon simply do it as a small part of their everyday lives – not in an obsessive manner at all. It isn’t all cutting and sticking either, as websites such as https://www.couponsherpa.com/ allow you to access virtual promotional codes for online purchases too. Plus, you’re likely to find some of the stores you regularly shop on many a coupon site, too. Before you buy anything (especially if it is a bit of an impulse buy), always check to see if there is a coupon or a voucher going that could get you a bit of money off. It only takes a couple of seconds, and you could end up making some pretty tasty discounts.
Planning every aspect of your life meticulously isn’t the best way to live for many people. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, and have been for some time, it can sometimes be the only way to effectively manage your finances. Make a point of sitting down every Sunday evening – perhaps after dinner – and planning your financial week. Obviously, it will be impossible to do everything down to a tee, as there are always unexpected costs to account for. But try and plan the things you know you can control. A good example of this is your family meals. We all know how tempting it is to come home from work, tired, and want nothing more than to just call up Dominos for a takeout. But if you have meals planned (or even better, prepped!) for the week, you will be less likely to give into this temptation. Get your family round the table with you and all club together so you can have input into what you eat for the week, and what your plans are socially too.
Change your payment dates
There are a lot of regular outgoings that come out of the average bank account. Bills, rent, interest and account charges… if they all leave your account on different dates or all at the end of the month, you could put yourself in a risky financial position. Having them all coming out on different days can easily get confusing, and if they come out at the end of the month, you could unknowingly spend the money before it’s even due. Being in debt to your utility companies, or failing to keep up with things like credit card payments, can be dangerous territory as http://lifehacker.com/what-happens-over-time-if-you-dont-pay-your-credit-car-1424115120 explains. Change your dates so that all your important transactions come out at the start of the month, just after you have been paid. That way, you will be able to see how much you have until the next payday, and the pressure will be off for the next few weeks at least.
Make money elsewhere
If your job simply isn’t cutting it, and those paychecks are feeling more and more sparse every time they arrive, you may want to consider looking into another source of income. More people than you would think have a side hustle as well as a full-time job, whether it’s for enjoyment or purely to top up their cash flow. Think about something you can do from home, after dinner, when the kids are in bed. It could be something as simple as completing paid for surveys online, or it could be something you’re truly passionate about, such as making and selling crafts or clothing. Either way, that little bit of extra cash always helps, and doing it from the comfort of your home is just a bonus too. Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t ideal for anyone, but there ARE things you can do to make the reality of it a little easier on both you and your family.