When you live on a low income, making ends meet can be challenging. Not only do you struggle to pay your bills, but you may have to sacrifice money that would otherwise be spent on food to just get by. The mental stress of having to stretch dollars is bad enough, and it’s made worse by being hungry, having low energy and not performing well at work or school.
You know what you want but not how to get there: life beyond the edges of your paychecks.
To stop living for the next pay period, it’ll take time, patience and planning. It won’t happen quickly, so you have to truly believe in what you’re doing. Given time, you’ll begin to see the effects of your hard work and enjoy living a life where you can breathe again. But where do you start?
Learn How You Budget Best
If you want to change your financial life, you need to budget. Not many people know how to do that. You can read about tips on how to do it or ask your friends for advice, but, the truth is, everyone budgets differently. There are so many ways to approach the idea that the only way to know which one is right for you is to try them all out.
Here some ideas to get you started.
Write it out. Print out individual calendars of the next three months. Write down each expense you have on the day you’ll have to spend that money, then write down how much you’ll get paid on the days you receive your paychecks. You’ll have an easy time figuring out how much you have to spend on things outside your bills for each week.
Download an app. There are plenty of budgeting apps to choose from no matter what smartphone you have. Most will have you budgeting by each day, so if you know you need to spend money frequently, this might be the best method for you.
Use online calculators. This is a great option for people with an extreme amount of debt in different areas, like mortgages and credit card debt. Online calculators come in a variety of forms, so you can find one tailored to whatever you need.
The key is to try as many different kinds of budgeting options as you can so you know what works best with your financial life. If you try multiple methods and nothing feels right, try creating your own. Sometimes all you need to change your life is a bit of brainstorming.
Cut up Those Credit Cards
Once you’ve budgeted and know how you’ll get through the immediate future, it’s time to cut up your credit cards. Not figuratively — literally. Keep whatever cards have debt on them that you still need to pay off, and then take scissors to the rest. This will help you break the habit of spending money you don’t have.
As you continue to pay off debt, cut up the remaining cards. It’s always good to have one in your name for things like reserving hotel rooms and keeping up your credit score, but that’s really all anyone needs. Take every slice of the scissors in your hand as a victory! You’re that much closer to transforming your life.
Begin Your Emergency Fund
It’ll build slowly, but an emergency fund is crucial to have, especially for those with low incomes. The idea is that you’ll have funds for any future financial crises that arise. Maybe they’ll happen sooner rather than later and won’t have enough to cover costs completely — think flat tire or a house fire — but at least you’ll have a good chunk of the costs covered. This will help you get out of debt faster than before.
Once you know how much you have to spend and where that money will be going, you’ll feel better as each paycheck rolls in. It is completely possible to get yourself out of the lifestyle that is living week to week, month to month. It’ll take planning and time, but, in the end, it’ll be worth it. You’ll have extra money in your bank account and room to breathe. All it takes is that first step, so get going!