Want to make your paycheck last longer? You’re not alone. According to MarketWatch, at least 50% of American families live paycheck to paycheck. This means they generally can’t afford any unexpected or emergency expenses. Some may not even be able to make their paycheck last until the next one.
It’s a scary position to be in, and I know that firsthand. Payday can feel like such a relief then bills, debt payments, and other expenses start piling through.
Plus, there always seems to be something extra that pops up. Your kids need new shoes, you see something on sale, or you run out of groceries early and need to buy more food for your household.
Before you know it, your bank account is nearly drained, and you’re on a struggle bus for a few days, desperately awaiting your next paycheck.
Here’s the Deal…
I used to be one of those “I need to wait until I get paid on Friday” people. My paycheck ran my life and told me if, when, and how I could do just about everything. Oftentimes, it limited my choices and opportunities.
Many people have goals to make their paycheck last longer. Still, they are afraid to talk about it and the obstacles that stand in their way. This leads them to make some really bad decisions like using credit cards to supplement expenses or taking out a payday loan.
This is why I decided to write this post. You can learn the tips that helped me stop living by the mercy of my paycheck. Whether you get paid bi-weekly, monthly, or twice a month, take these steps to make your paycheck last longer like it’s supposed to.
Have Less Money Withheld From Your Paycheck
To make your paycheck last two weeks, ask your employer to withhold less from your paycheck. This helps you receive more of your earnings on payday. This will most likely result in your having a higher tax bill. But if you usually get a refund, it may even out, and you may not have much to worry about.
If you’re really struggling to stretch your paycheck and make ends meet, having more of your money now could ease your financial burden. You can also take advantage of tax breaks and credits that apply to your situation to make things less expensive around tax time.
Your best bet is to talk to your tax professional and ask him or her if asking your employer to withhold less would be a smart move. At the end of the day, you want to do what’s best for you now and in the future.
Rework Your Budget
If you have a budget, you need to determine if you’re basing it on your current needs or your current income. Ideally, you’ll want to keep both factors in mind. If you’re not earning enough to meet your needs and expenses, you need to make some adjustments.
You always want your budget to be set up, so that your expenses never exceed your income. If it’s the other way around, you’ll wind up with a monthly deficit and have to borrow money to make ends meet.
Asking friends and family for money can be embarrassing and can possibly even affect your relationship with them. Taking out a payday loan to help you get by can be extremely costly due to their high-interest rates. Typically, payday loans have 400% interest rates which is plain ridiculous. At that rate, you’ll spend way more money paying back the loan to the point that it won’t even justify the amount you borrowed.
Try to go through your budget line by line and see if there are any expenses you can lower or cut. Rework the numbers, so you are set up to spend less than you earn each month.
I’ll admit, budgeting is not the most exciting thing to do. But it’s necessary and super helpful if you’re trying to get your finances in order. A budget is merely a spending plan; you can set it up however you want. Just make sure you can cover all your needs before your wants.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting
Adopt a Frugal Lifestyle
Embracing frugality is one of the best things I did to improve my finances, pay off debt, and break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Contrary to popular belief, frugality is not all about living as cheaply as possible and hardly ever spending any money. It’s about being resourceful and using what you have while clarifying your values and spending in a way that aligns with them.
Since I know what my values are, I can practice frugal living. And I can spend guiltlessly on what’s important to me while not spending much on things that don’t add value to my life.
Personally, I love saving money and scoring deals. But I’m not willing to do so at the expense of my or my family’s health or security. With frugality, you have to draw a line you’re comfortable with. When you’re cheap, you just try to avoid spending money at all costs.
For example, as a frugal person, I’ll buy used furniture, but I’ll draw the line at a used mattress and opt to buy it new for sanitary reasons. I also don’t shy away from buying quality items that may cost more upfront but will last longer in general.
I love buying used clothes for my son and catching clearance deals because he grows so fast, but I may buy him a quality pair of brand new shoes at the beginning of the school year because they will be more durable and last longer. Frugality helps you save money and less well on less while still being able to spend money on your values.
I encourage you to adopt a frugal lifestyle if you want to make your paycheck last two weeks. Start cooking more meals at home instead of dining out for convenience (check out $5 Meal Plans and My FreezEasy for awesome meal prep plans!) and brew your coffee at home to save money on pricey Starbucks drinks.
Find free and affordable ways to entertain yourself, utilize all the resources available to you, and avoid wasting your hard-earned money on splurges that don’t really align with your values or end goal.
Avoid Blowing Your Paycheck on Splurges
We all splurge from time to time. Splurges are fun and sometimes necessary. There’s nothing wrong with doing it until it gets out of control.
I remember when I was living paycheck to paycheck. One of my most damaging habits was getting too excited when I got paid and feeling the need to blow money almost instantly.
I’d stop by the store and treat myself to a new outfit from the store or a nice meal from one of my favorite restaurants. I would say yes to any and every opportunity that came my way. Before I knew it, my paycheck was almost gone, and my bank account was dangerously low.
Living that type of lifestyle forced me into a state of panic and stress every two weeks. I knew I didn’t have enough money to get by. This is why it’s so important to embrace frugality and get clear on your values. If you don’t, you’ll wind up splurging all the time and regretting your purchases later.
If you have issues falling for the latest fad and making impulse purchases solely on emotion, try using the 48-hour rule. When you’re in a store and see something you like and are tempted to buy, try waiting for 48 hours and sleeping on the decision.
After that time has gone by, you may realize you didn’t truly want or need that item and can get by without it just fine.
If one of your habits is to go out on the town every weekend, see if you can cut down on going out every other weekend and having friends instead. Also, check out Groupon to save money on activities and outings you would normally splurge on.
Check out the Digit app to help reduce splurging and keep you aligned with your goals. This robo-financial assistant app uses a sophisticated algorithm that monitors your spending habits, which can help you keep your splurges in check. See what the app is all about here.
Use a Daily Budget
Once your budget is under control, consider adapting to a daily budget. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending. Developing a daily budget is simple. You just need to break your spending allowance into 30-31 parts.
Subtract your regular living expenses from your budget like rent, utility bills, insurance premiums, debt payments, groceries, etc., then use what’s left as your spending allowance.
Let’s say you have $400 left each month. That breaks down to $13.33 per day that you can spend to allow your paycheck to last. You can even go some days without spending any money at all to increase your daily budget.
Let’s say you have 2 no-spend days each week. They could be during busy work days when you don’t really have time to spend much money anyway. That would bump your daily budget up to $18.18.
Be sure to check your bank account regularly to monitor your transactions and update your budget. That way, you can have more control over your spending and won’t be surprised or stressed when funds start running low.
Learn How to Create a Budget You Love?
Living paycheck to paycheck gets tiring really fast. I remember when I reached the point of being fed up with the cycle and decided to create a new reality for myself. To help you shift into living on your own terms, I created the Budget Beyond Your Paycheck Bundle. You receive a fantastic set of worksheets that will guide you in taking the same steps I did so you can get the same results. Grab your bundle here and start breaking free of the control of your paycheck today!
Ask For a Raise
Now that I’ve talked about a few ways to keep your spending under control and embrace frugality, it’s time to address the big elephant in the room – earning more money.
Don’t forget that if your paycheck is not allowing you to live comfortably, you can always try to increase your income. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask for a raise.
Your annual performance review is one of the best times to ask your employer for a pay increase. But if it’s been a while since you’ve had one, you can ask anytime.
Be sure to research the salary expectations for your position. Round up some documentation that will justify a pay increase. If you’ve been doing well on your job, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a raise.
The worst someone can say is no. But research shows that people who ask for raises tend to get them. If you don’t ask, you could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars during the life of your career.
Getting a salary increase can help you make your paycheck last longer than previously.
Get a Side Hustle
Another way to earn extra money is to get a side hustle. Side hustling is all the craze right now. But if you’re short on money, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try. Side hustling can help you meet your financial goals quicker and keep more money in your pocket in general.
You can get a part-time job on the side. Or you can choose a flexible side hustle that allows you to work from home or work flexible hours whenever it’s convenient for you.
If you need to resolve your issues with having a low paycheck quickly and can’t get a raise, I’d highly recommend starting a side hustle.
Related: 80+ Ways to Earn Extra Money
Refinance Your Debt
Finally, realize that high debt payments might be preventing you from being able to make your paycheck last two weeks. Your minimum monthly payments may be high if you have a big car loan or a lot of student loans.
You might want to refinance your debt if your interest rate is also high. Refinancing allows you to get a whole new loan with a new lender. But it can get you a lower interest rate and/or lower monthly payment. If you’re interested in looking into refinancing your student loans, check out Credible.
Credible is one of my favorite free resources for refinancing student loans. It lets you browse different offers for a lower interest rate without even running your credit. If interest on your student loans costs you thousands per year, you can save thousands by refinancing with help from Credible.
Wrapping It Up
Living paycheck to paycheck and not being able to stretch your income to last until your next payday doesn’t have to be your long-term situation. These tips and strategies can change your finances and even increase your income.
The key is to focus on always having more money coming in than the amount of money that goes out. You’ll also want to control your spending habits.
Have you ever had trouble making your paycheck last a full two weeks? If you’re struggling to make it to your next payday, feel free to download my free Mindful Budgeting printable worksheet. Ask me any questions for more context in the comment section, or reach out to me privately.
My Favorite Resources
ThredUp – The best online consignment shop to find affordable clothes and accessories for women and kids.
Credible – Marketplace for student loan refinancing. Shop around for better student loan rates without hurting your credit
Survey Junkie – Earn money taking surveys online
Opinion Outpost – Another legit survey company I like. My husband uses this site to earn extra money we can spend on dining out
Bestow – Get fast, affordable term insurance online without a doctor or medical exam
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