Many people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck for a wide variety of reasons. You may have slipped into a downward financial spiral as a result of events outside your control. Or, perhaps you owe your current circumstances to choices you made in the past. But now, you want to know how to pay off debt and stop living paycheck to paycheck.
No matter the cause of your paycheck to paycheck situation, you should know the ways people all over Texas and Oklahoma pull themselves out of it.
So if you live in either of those states, these tips can work wonders for your finances.
What Is Considered Living Paycheck to Paycheck?
Before we get to our "stop living paycheck to paycheck" tips, you may wonder how to tell if you fall into this category. Living paycheck to paycheck means you can't meet your financial obligations on your current salary. You use your entire salary each month to cover your expenses, such as rent or mortgage, utilities and child care, and you can't afford to pay for anything else. If an unexpected expense arises, you can't afford to cover it, even if it's only $20.
Now that you know the definition, you can learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck by following these tips.
1. Set Concrete Financial Goals for Yourself
When you set a specific goal, such as being able to add $10 to a savings account every week, you will feel more motivated when you know you have something to work toward. You'll also have a far clearer picture in your head of how to accomplish your goal. Just be sure you start with small goals at first. Otherwise, it's easy to become discouraged if you don't meet them.
2. Find Ways to Make More Money
Whether this means applying for a second job, finding a better job, or asking your boss for a promotion, it's up to you to put yourself into a better pay bracket. You can also sell your possessions and put the money back in case of emergencies.
3. Keep Track of All Expenses
A lot of people fall into a paycheck to paycheck living thanks to their unnecessary spending. If you don't pay close attention to everything you spend money on each week, certain expenses might pile up quicker than you might believe.
Anyone who has read the Atlas Credit blog before knows we are big believers in setting a budget. When you see where your money goes, you can identify ways to save. You may realize you are spending way too much money on streaming video services, for instance, and cut out a few subscriptions. Eliminating that expense might allow you to save enough to cover your oil change or your child's upcoming field trip expense.
Use a handprinted or electronic document to enter all your expenses each month. A visual guide will give you a better overview of your spending. Get creative on how to save. Maybe you can cancel your cable subscription or bike to work to save money on gas.
4. Create an Automatic Savings Account
Many Americans who don't have savings accounts very well could have a huge sum of money set aside, if only they had made a savings in the first place. But instead of placing the money in a box under your bed, set up an automatic deposit of a small amount of money (as low as $5 a week!) from your bank account that you'll find in savings later on down the road.
5. Cut Back on Credit Cards Altogether
One of the biggest contributing factors to a near-poverty lifestyle is the choice to overuse credit cards. If you're heavily indebted to a credit card company, even if you earn a healthy salary, you'll still feel like you're broke. The best way to escape the cycle is to stop using credit cards -- period.
Credit cards rack up debt. You have to pay all that off in the long run, and you get charged interest every month you don't wipe all the debt clear. It's much more efficient to use another method with a lower interest rate to get the money you need to make it through the month.
6. Save Your "Found" Money
What is "found" money? It's the unexpected cash you receive that you haven't made plans to use. Found money can come from many places. You may receive an inheritance after a relative dies or get a surprise raise at work. Perhaps your tax refund this year is way more than you thought it would be.
Take this found money and sock it away. Put it in your savings account or start a new account aimed at saving money for something you've always dreamed of but can't afford because you're living paycheck to paycheck — such as a fancy vacation. Whenever you have extra money, deposit it in that account and watch it grow.
7. Give Yourself a Break
To dig yourself out of a frustrating financial situation, you need patience. Allowing yourself some grace helps you stay motivated to continue a new habit. You won't have extra money lying around right away. But if you make a long-term commitment and follow all your new rules, you will get there eventually.
You don't want to get too frustrated and give up early. Offer yourself little pep talks for staying on track and seek out a support system. Maybe a friend needs to improve their financial habits as well, or you can make it a family-wide project to spend less.
8. Take Out a Personal Loan
Personal loans allow you to take out a small sum of money to pay back on a set schedule that fits with your financial needs. When you apply through Atlas Credit, you can borrow anywhere from $100 to $1,400, which will help you bridge the gap between your paycheck and the bills you need to pay.
Personal loans are not payday loans. They have longer payback terms and lower interest rates. You can pay them back on a timeline that works for your needs instead of feeling pressured to repay them right away, and when you don't have the means.
Learn More About Atlas Credit Personal Loans
Remember how we mentioned Texas and Oklahoma? If you live in one of those states, you have an additional lifeline: Atlas Credit. Apply online or in-person for a quick and easy personal loan from Atlas Credit, and you'll get through your financial hardships with ease.
Contact us today to learn more!