If you’ve never lived check to check this post is still for you. I grew up in a house where this was our lifestyle, I moved out and continued the same habits. When my debt started to snowball I realized that something was wrong and my debt soon exceeded my income. Living check to check means one of these two things: you spend too much or you don’t make enough. Here’s what my boyfriend and I came up with, plus strategies used by other economist and financial advisors on how to avoid and stop living check to check.
1. Get Old School
Why is balancing a checkbook harder than checking your mobile app for your balance? It’s because we are manually tracking our spending rather than letting a software do it for us. Ask your banker for a booklet then track your spending. You’ll soon realize how much you spend when you have to write out every single purchase. Holding onto your receipts then hand writing them into the book seems tedious but you’ll actually avoid spending just to avoid writing. It’s great classical conditioning! After this step is done, you can also see where all your money is going then build a budget.
2. Cheaper Alternatives
We always find a reason to run to target, and when you are living check to check this is not a good place to be in. Certain stores like Target or online shops like Amazon are designed to display and advertise products for you to buy. Have you ever walked in the store for pads and left charging 70$ on your visa? That is what we are referring to. Try out the dollar store or see if a friend has something for you to borrow. Also, when you are looking to buy online look for coupon/discount codes offered by the website- this could save you tons of money.
3. Making a Real Budget
Making a budget isn’t fun especially when you have debt, bills, and other crap you have to worry about. It is fun when you make sure to have money for yourself so that way you aren’t guilty about breaking that strict ass budget. When you look at your spending habits where does most of your money go? Is it rent, groceries, gas, or subscriptions? Weigh out what you want vs need & what you use vs what you can borrow. The money you save shouldn’t go towards high heels and a new outfit but hold onto it to start saving for the next month.
4. Roll Over Money
Whenever you run into a lump of cash your first response is to either spend it on a vacation or buy something for yourself. Wrong. Put at least 75% of that surprise money in the bank for an emergency (recoloring your hair isn’t an emergency) and 20% for bills, then the last 5% on you – get yourself a nice lunch but don’t ball out. Bonuses, tax returns, and lottery winnings are all examples of roll over money. If you save that money for the future you won’t have to worry about cutting this months check.
5. Rewarding Yourself
I’ve heard so many people say, “I work hard I deserve it” every pay day. We distance ourselves from these labels like “want” and say we “need” them just to justify a purchase. Stop this habit now and you will stop spending crazy on pay day. Think of things that could really help you like paying off your debt, a down payment for a house, or purchasing a car. These are real rewards that you will not regret. When you start looking at your “rewards” from another perspective you’ll cut the silly spending quick. Try to make a list of financial goals to motivate you to stop spending on the extra stuff.
7. Side Hustle
We can’t always cut back especially if you’re already struggling. I’ve bought all my groceries at the 99 cent store and was still broke. What we really needed was a higher paying job, or a side job. Find a side hustle that works around your primary job like babysitting, buying & reselling, doing makeup, or even tutoring. You won’t always have the tools right in front of you but if you’re passionate about any of these then you’ll make it happen. Again, no side hustle is over night so you’ll have to really invest in yourself like a legit hard hustlin’ honey.
8. Set Backs = Come Up’s
Getting what you want in life never comes all at once nor in an abundance. For example, you might have to cut back on makeup to save for your upcoming and fun vacation. Don’t pity yourself because in the future it’ll help! Stay positive and constantly remind yourself that you are working towards that reward. When we realized our bills were strangling us we decided to say forget the gym memberships, nail shops, and dinner outings. Holding back on the excessive spending feels painful but in the future you’ll forget all about it.