Many people find themselves in a difficult situation with their monthly bills. If any emergency arises like a car repair or doctor’s bill, they simply don’t have it. When this happens, they have no choice but to skip a payment on one of their bills in order to pay for the emergency. If you are among the many that are living paycheck to paycheck there are many ways to end this cycle and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
In order to get a real sense of where you are, you need to establish and stick to a household budget. List your monthly bills and additional expenses like gas, groceries, school fees and tolls. Then match this against all forms of income. Hopefully, you make enough to cover your expenses. If not, you may need to take on a second job for the short-term until you reduce your monthly expenses.
Saving money on your cable and utilities
Once you know what your monthly expenses are, it’s time to take a real look at your utility bills. Unlike just 10 years ago, many states have deregulated the gas and electric allowing other companies to offer services. This is good news for the consumer and something you should take advantage of. Contact the other service providers and compare their rates to what you are currently paying. In addition to your utilities, you can also do the same with your cable bill. There are multiple companies such as DIRECTV that not only have plans designed for any budget, but they also have DIRECTV local areas included, allowing you to continue to enjoy having access to the news in your neighborhood.
Save for big ticket items
When it comes to buying a new appliance or television, it’s always best to pay cash. This way you’re not adding any additional expenses to your budget and you’re paying exactly what it cost, interest-free. Next time, instead of pulling out a credit card, shop around and get an idea of the actual cost. Then, save for it. If it’s really something you need you can put a bit more away each week. On the other hand, if it’s simply something you’d like to have, you can spread the payments over a longer period of time and then once you have the funds purchase it, free and clear. By doing this you’ll slowly start to reduce your debt.
Establish a savings account
You’ve talked about it and now it’s time to do it: establish a savings account. You can start small putting as little as $10.00 a week away and then as you pay off a credit card or a loan take a portion of that money and add it to your savings account. In addition to that, any pay raise, do the same. In no time at all, you’ll have money set aside so that the next time your car needs a repair or a child needs to go to the doctor, you have the money to pay for it. Many people also have two savings accounts, one they use for emergencies and one strictly for their vacation.
Pay yourself first
You work hard and sometimes it may seem that you are working just to pay your bills. If you pay yourself first, a weekly allowance, you’ll have a few bucks in your pocket to buy coffee, lunch or a monthly dinner out, and start to feel like you’re living again. On a tight budget, this might be the last thing on your mind, but it works. And after just a few weeks you’ll see that you’ll start to feel good.
Shop around for groceries
Food shopping can consume a lot of money, especially if you have a larger family. If you live in a populated area with several grocery stores, check their flyers and apps to see who has the best prices. You may have to visit a few in a single day, but the savings is well worth your time. Also, bring coupons. Most major brands have coupons available online. There are many sites that promote them and the best part is the service is free. All you need to do is print them.
Pay your bills on time
While you may not be able to achieve this immediately, the sooner you pay your bills on time the sooner you’ll remove the late fees. These additional expenses can really add up over the course of a month. Also, by paying your credit cards and loans on time you’ll also improve your credit score, which can have a positive effect on future loans and purchases.
There are many ways to get you on track and put an end to living paycheck to paycheck. All you need to do is establish a budget and set realistic and achievable goals that you can stick to. By doing this, you’ll slowly work down your debt and begin to enjoy the fruits of your labor.