Living paycheck-to-paycheck is hard. It’s difficult enough to squeak by financially if you’re barely making enough money to sustain your lifestyle, but it’s even worse looking at your long-term finances and seeing no clear path out of the woods.
According to recent research, half of American families are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Those figures placed 19 percent of Americans without any emergency funds and 31 percent without at least $500 set aside for an emergency.
This is a problem a lot of people are having, especially in the Millennial demographic. Young people are struggling to make ends meet, let alone saving up to invest in property or any other long-term investments.
Luckily, if you’re motivated enough, there are ways to make it out. Here are a couple options you have.
Find A New Job
If the end goal is bringing in more money, this is the most obvious option, though it may not be practical for everyone. Maybe you love your job or you’re pigeonholed into a career or you just can’t get hired anywhere.
It might be worth narrowing your search. Some local job boards have more targeted openings than the large aggregators like Indeed or LinkedIn. It’s even worth trying Craigslist if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Eliminate Waste in Your Budget
It’s important to weigh needs vs. wants.
Do you really need a comprehensive cable package or unlimited data or even Netflix? You probably don’t need to eat at restaurants or buy fresh produce from expensive grocery stores. Your style can stand to stagnate a bit while you’re saving up money.
You should be tracking your expenses at all times to find out what you can reasonably cut from the budget.
Find A New Source of Income
Everybody has talents that can translate to money if you hustle for it.
If you’re a good writer or have computer skills or even something else, freelance opportunities are everywhere. Sites like Upwork allow you to link directly with clients.
You might have a hobby that people would be willing to pay for. If you make art, try to sell it. If you know how to fix things, turn it into a side business. If you know how to play music, give lessons or play gigs.
There’s also the route of picking up a serving or bartending shift, or looking for other part-time work, but not everybody has that kind of time in their schedule.
Don’t Take On More Debt
A main reason a lot of people can’t move forward and save is that they take on too much debt.
People often use their credit cards as short-term solutions for long-term problems. Kicking the can won’t help you move out of paycheck-to-paycheck life, even if it feels like you have more money.
This can turn bad to worse if you have an unexpected emergency or lose your job.
If you already have debt, don’t take on more. Your focus should be getting it off the books.
Put the Money You Do Have To Work
It’s not always about saving for an emergency fund. Sometimes you should save for things that will advance your life.
If you find yourself putting together extra cash, it’s worth considering how you can make it work for you. Maybe you can make advanced payments on rent or your bills. You can take a class that would help your career. You can save for a car that would allow you more mobility.
It’s not always about saving for the sake of saving. Spending can be a means to growth as long as you do it responsibly.
The idea is to use that wasted money in a way that is no longer wasteful. Pay your bills ahead or even use previously wasted funds to invest on something that can give you a bigger return. If you want to avoid continuing on living paycheck to paycheck for the rest of your life, you need to build up your assets as early as possible.
To be more consistent on taking charge of how you use your money, it is vital that you change your overall outlook on money. Mindfully spend on what matters to you rather than mindlessly spending on consumer items that aren’t that important to you. You might be surprised to see how much fat you can trim off from your budget by simply thinking about your purchases and getting down to the “why” behind your spending.
Article Author: Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.