How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Having a hard time saving the money you make every week? Not only is it difficult to keep up with your monthly bills, but finding ways to save money each month is simply out of the picture.

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck - are you tired of barely making ends meet? Want to learn how to start having extra money each month? Break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck today!

That vicious cycle can be so hard to break. Payday arrives, you pay all your bills, purchase groceries and other necessities, and then you are broke again until your next paycheck. This cycle then repeats itself again and again and again. It can be overwhelming and depressing to live like this, but as difficult as it may seem, you can break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

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Some of the tips that I will list below may seem like ideas you have tried, but keep an open-mind and re-evaluate your spending habits. You may think that it will never work for you, but until you try you will never know.

One of the first things that you should always start with is a budget. It is extremely important to track your money. You want to have an in-depth look at all of your income and expenses each month. You will not be able to find ways to save money each month if you cannot see where you are spending your money.

{Related: Free Finance Software to track your spending}

To start figuring out your own budget you need to list all of your expenses for the month. Start with necessities like bills, groceries and gas. Then add your non-essential expenses like entertainment, gym memberships and dining out. Total that up and subtract it from your monthly income. Look at what you spend and see what areas you can cut down on to save some money. You may not think you need to, but once you create your budget you should see areas where you are spending unnecessary money.

If you see that you are spending too much on groceries then learn ways to cut down on food costs. If you want to try to lower your monthly bills then make small changes to lower your electric bill or save money on heating.

You can even call your insurance companies and even cable provider to see if they are able to lower your monthly bill. This year, we were able to save $1,200 by combining our homeowners insurance and our car insurance. You can read more about lowering your car insurance.

Use our FREE Printable Monthly Budget Template

Stop Living Paycheck to PaycheckDo you buy coffee every morning or lunch every day? Do you frequently go to Happy Hour after work with your coworkers? These small amounts can add up without you even noticing it. Start by just cutting back a bit on certain things. If you buy lunch every day, start to bring it from home  2 days a week instead. Then you take the money you would have spent for lunch those 2 days and you put it into your savings.  Even if you only spend $5 a day for lunch, just cutting out 2 days will save over $400 a year.

You can still enjoy fun family time and good entertainment without spending tons of money. Do you go to the movies every weekend? Subscribe to a service like Netflix, save lots of money and have movie night at home instead. Do you have a favorite meal that you go out to eat every Saturday night for? Recreate it at home. You can serve your family that same meal for just a fraction of the price and as a bonus you can eat it in front of the TV in your pajamas if you like!

The whole point is to get creative and think of small ways that will make a BIG change to your budget.

If you are sitting there now and think to yourself well I do use a budget and I already cut back on everything, now what? Another way to help prevent you from living paycheck to paycheck is to slowly build an emergency fund or savings account. You may be thinking it is impossible when you have nothing left at the end of the month, but instead of waiting to see what you have left over you need to start paying yourself first.

This means that when you receive a paycheck you can have a small amount automatically withdrawn from your account into a separate savings account. Even if it is something as small as $10 per paycheck. You will have saved more than $250 over the course of a year. The whole point is to save the money before you ever have access to it. This way you will not be waiting to see what you have left over because you already placed it into a savings account the second you got paid.

One of the reasons why most people live paycheck to paycheck is because an unexpected expense arises and they have no idea how to pay it. This is where a credit card comes into play. If you do not have an emergency fund setup then you will have no choice but to get into debt and pay for this unexpected expense with a credit card.

Paying yourself first can help you to break your paycheck to paycheck cycle because you are starting to put away a small amount of money in case you need it. You never know when you will get a flat tire or your child will break their glasses {which happened to me recently}.

Again, credit cards and debit cards lead to overspending. This then leads to an increase in debt and higher monthly bills, which only feeds the paycheck to paycheck cycle. Use cash as often as possible. Withdraw the amount you need and leave your card at home when you shop, so there is no chance of overspending.

Have you ever heard of the envelope system? If you find yourself constantly overspending because you have access to your credit cards and debit card then you should definitely try the envelope system. It will prevent you from making impulse purchases and allow you to budget a certain amount for each category of your expenses. You can read more about the envelope system to help you start saving more money this month.

If you implement these simple changes into your life, you may finally be able to break this cycle. You will have money saved in case of an emergency or just to splurge on something like a special trip for the family.

You will no longer be living paycheck to paycheck and you will be happy that you made the necessary changes. Having a little emergency stash of money can ease your mind, and with all the day to day stress and issues of life, whose mind couldn’t use a little easing?

In order to get ahead with your finances and increase your savings you may need to find extra income. Whether you are looking for part-time work or a full-time job I highly recommend checking out starting a blog.

Whenever I first started my blog I had no idea that it would turn into a business nor did I ever imagine being able to earn a full-time income. If you have ever been interested in blogging you can check out my step-by-step guide here {you can even watch the video tutorial!} and find out how you can get started with Bluehost.

If you are just looking for a few fast ways to earn some money on the side then check out this list of 30 Side Jobs you can try out.

Quick recap: break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck

  • Use a budget
  • Pay yourself first
  • Build an emergency fund
  • Use the envelope system
More Ways to Save Money:

Improve Your Credit Score

Creating a Budget

Eating Organic on a Budget

Also, make sure you checkout the Frugal Fanatic Facebook page and follow us on Pinterest for DIY projects, recipes, money saving tips and more. What family budget ideas do you have, please share in the comments below.

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck - are you tired of barely making ends meet? Want to learn how to start having extra money each month? Break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck today!

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. It’s crazy how small things like a $2 coffee each morning can add up to hundreds in savings each year and thousands over the years when saved and invested. Each little thing you cut out equals time that you can spend later in life on things that really matter. Keep on saving and keep growing your money!

    1. I have been using these methods for ages but as a casual no matter what I do I pay the bills and necessaries and had to use my emergency fund to fix the car in order to keep working. (over $2000). now my fund is at $0 and though I keep putting money in I keep having to use it. I feel I have nothing to cut back on. I keep searching for better work but I have to live now.

    2. I save by putting small amount on my personal loan it cuts interest and in a real emergency I can stop repayments. If all goes well I will pay it quickly

  2. Doesn’t seem that exciting, but just putting your spare change in a money tin or a jar (depending on your level of will power) every other day can add up to quite a fair bit of money. In our house we normally just put aside gold coins and we can save an easy $50-$100 a month without much effort, which is upwards of $700 per year. Even silver can add up over time.

    1. Yes, I totally agree Tiffany. My husband has a jar that he adds to every day and we can sometimes save an extra $200 a month in change. It is really nice when we go to cash it in! We like to save it for our family vacation each year.

  3. How can you save money when your not even buying the “$2.00 coffee a day or eating out ever.” I wish we could do those things. We have a good income but after car insurance, gas for the car, car maintenance, groceries, water bill, gas bill, phone bill, rent. We are broke. Literally counting pennies. Any tips on how to lower utility bills, or get better deals on car insurance, phone carriers etc? I feel like we are failing when my family is literally counting pennies and we have no spending money whatsoever and my husband pulls in $40 an hour. HELP.

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping in. I have a few suggestions. Do you use coupons? Coupons can really lower your grocery bill especially if you meal plan, so that you know exactly what you need each time you go grocery shopping. This will help prevent making unnecessary purchases. Do you use a budget each month? Using a budget can really help you see exactly how much you are spending each month and where it is going. As for utility bills, many companies will allow you to be on the budget plan so that you are paying the same amount year round. Plus, there are small changes you can make like doing less laundry, unplugging electronics when you are not using them, and replacing air filters often. Not sure what phone carrier you are currently using but there are plans out there that offer no-contract and it is a set fee each month. This will help prevent you paying any unexpected overages and fees every month. For car insurance, you can always call the company and see if they have any special rates and offers that apply to your plan. Call around and compare pricing between different insurance companies. Hopefully some of these can help!

    2. You are not alone!!!! We had no idea how we would do christmas this year even though we rarely have any extra. We have tho! I have been making and selling candles to friends and family at at some craft shows and its made that few $ extra to put away. MEAL PLANNING your next two weeks using up stuff in the freezer and pantry helps SO much with the grocery bills when you ONLY buy the things u need extra for those 2 weeks worth of meals, not everything you are out of. The place i buy groceries at is called No Frills and everything is cheaper there. Obvious stuff like buying store brand and looking on the price tags for the $ per ml to get the best deal. also not buying snacks saves alot, make them and snack on fruit and veggies( they are cheap). Getting rid of our credit card was the best thing we have paid off to this day. It has saved us a lot of $! We are making most of oue christmas presents and our familys are understanding and are doing small and minimal gifts. These things have given us such a boost and slowly slowly we are feeling more hopeful! Hope it helped a bit. X

      1. Hi Kate! That is great that you have paid off your credit card!! That is a HUGE step in the right direction and can definitely save you a LOT of money every single month. I love that you are able to make candles to make extra money. I wish I was crafty! I totally agree with looking at the tags and figuring out which items are the best deals. Many people only look at the price but they do not break it down to the size or how many you get per package. You may think you are getting a good deal but in reality you are paying more because the package has less. Have a great holiday!!

    3. unting Change in WA State….. my husband and I were just like you and your family a few months ago. We both made decent money, but couldn’t figure out why we were living so tight until payday. So we decided to take a step back and look at our finances and decided to go on a budget! This is the best thing we have ever done! As far as groceries go, you have to be really strict with yourself. Right now it is just the two of us, and I limit us to a $60/2 week budget which makes my monthly grocery bill $120. Now if you are a family of 4 or more then you definitely need to increase that amount, but its not as much as you would think. I do not use coupons I just watch for sales and I buy frugally. When you start spending $300 a week on groceries and you don’t hardly eat anything you buy then that’s when you have a problem. As far as cell phone bills, it depends on the carrier and what kind of phone you have. I used to work in cell phones so this is my specialty 🙂 Utilities can be tricky. We have everything hooked up to power strips and everything gets unplugged at night. We are living in a 1100 sq ft apartment and our electric bill is about $35 per month. We do that by cutting the lights off in rooms that we aren’t in and we purchased a small space heater for the winter and a box fan for the summer. The only other thing I can think of for your car insurance is to call them up and say you are thinking about switching b/c of the cost and they should try to get you a better deal. Hope this helps 🙂

      1. Hi Shelby! Thanks for stopping by. Thats great that you can get your grocery bill that low for the two of you. It is true, many people spend a ton of money on fodd that they end up not eating!

    4. Try looking into Republic wireless. If your a Sahm like me look into usertesting to bring in some extra money, surveys on the go, and start using Ibotta to get money back from groceries etc. I find that helps a little however, I’m looking for a part time work from home job to help contribute.

      Hope that helps.

  4. My boyfriend and I are just starting out. We just moved into our first home to get her last night. But we had two good practice weeks set for us. We learned that you should always meal plan. The first week I thought we would never eat food we wanted again. The second week, I sat down and planned out our meals. We spent less at the grocery store but it felt like we brought more home. We always figure up what comes out of each paycheck ahead of time, & we always estimate that he will have a smaller paycheck than what we know he will have. For example, he almost always brings home about 325 a week unless he misses a day. But we estimate for 315 or 310. Then, we check to see if we can afford to take out our “bill money” from that. Then we have more “sspending and savings” money than we originally thought. It doesn’t sound like this makes much of a difference, but when you know you can pay your bills with a little leftover from one amount, but you actually make more, your bills are still paid for, and it always feels nice when you think you only have $30 to spend on whatever that week, but you actually have $50. We do our “bill planning” for the entire month all at once, and we can always change things when needed. Mostly, it stays the same throughout. Sometimes things do come up, but we take out $20 a week for savings, so those things dont hurt us too much.

    1. That is great that you have a plan. That is the most important part of budgeting and creating a savings account. I totally agree that meal planning makes a HUGE difference! Plus, it is nice to know that you saved money at the grocery store.

  5. I would love to be able to stop living paycheck to paycheck. It seems like such a foreign concept when you start to think about it. It has to work though because I’ve heard people that have done say its easier than you think.

    If you have to narrow it down to 3 absolute rules when starting out this process, what would they be?

    1. Hi Jennifer – I would say start using a budget, if possible have a particular amount of money taken out of your paycheck or bank account directly deposited into a savings {even if it is a very small amount!} and cut back on any kind of extra spending. It may be hard in the beginning but when you change your mindset and start to live beneath your means you really can start to save money!

  6. I feel like this article is more for people spending lots and having larger salaries than for those living paycheck to paycheck. Those who need to do that already dont buy coffee/lunch/dinner out, dont use the car when not absolutely needed, go out for expensive entertainment etc. They already meal plan, keep heating low and unplug electronics because they have to. They dont have memberships to gyms, cable or magazines to cancel. I think its fair that this article offers tips for those with average salaries or higher wanting to spend a little less, not for those who already live paycheck to paycheck.

    1. i agree with Emmy. I bring my lunch to work everyday, my husband bought me an expresso machine so I make coffee at home now, and I almost never go out with my coworkers. I also have a Netflix and Hulu account, so most of my socializing revolves around getting together with friends for a movie night or we play board games and make cheap dinners like tacos or go in together on pizza or potluck.

      It would be great if you did an article about budgeting and what to do if you are drowning under the weight of debt. My husband has over $60,000 of student loans which are crushing us. We are also terrible at budgeting. He makes the udget and we do a good job sticking to it then something inevitably comes up and depletes our funds. We want to have children but i dont know how we will be able to aford childcare living check to check. Help!!!

  7. To save money its all about lifestyle you need lower a bit. make a record about expenses, make a budget. Set a savings goal and watch your savings grow.

  8. Thanks Adeline for taking some time and giving some great tips on savings. I am really surprised to see how much you can save each year but cutting back on something as small as coffee 🙂

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