Tips For Stretching Your Paycheck
It’s rare that your wages keep up with the cost of living. That is especially true since the recession, the effects of which are still being felt by many Americans. It’s no secret that a lot of us are living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. For some, no matter how you stretch it, your earnings may not be enough to cover all of your bills and expenses. Know that you are not alone and there are still ways you can stretch your paycheck. Read on for some helpful, money-saving tips.
Assess Your Spending
Keep a list of everything you buy or spend money on within a month. Everything from groceries and gas for your car to bills. Why? This detailed list will let you know where you can afford to cut back. Maybe you’re spending too much money on Starbucks drinks or spending way more money on lunch than you realized. Perhaps you’re using more cell phone data than you care to, which adds up from month to month.
Depending on your circumstances, you might be having too much tax withheld from your paycheck. If you want to receive a little more money come payday, adjust the allowances on your W-4.
Cook Your Meals
The average price Americans spend on lunch is $10. If you’re eating out every day of the work week, that’s a lot of money that you can either save or put towards other things. But you don’t have to cut back entirely. Maybe you can get a side dish instead of a full on meal, or treat yourself to lunch one day during the week.
Pay Critical Bills
This one is a little tricky, but you know which bills you can afford to pay late and which ones you can’t. Your cable bill, for example, carries a lot less weight than your rent or mortgage (and won’t harm your credit score if you skip out). No surprise there. So if you have to forgo paying a bill or bills, make the necessary decisions. Some companies will work with you and set up a payment plan past your typical due date if you let them know in advance that you’re unable to pay, and won’t charge you a late fee.
Keep a List
When you’re buying groceries, know exactly what you need so you can avoid being tempted by items not on your list. Buy in bulk where you can and go the generic route. Generic items get a bad rap but many of them are equal (nutrition value wise) to their brand name counterparts.
Make a Budget
Making a budget is a no-brainer. Sticking to that budget is another thing.
Avoid Bank Fees
Some banks charge fees that can be avoided if you sign up for direct deposit, keep a certain monthly balance or pay your bills through their site, for example. Check with your bank to find out their rules and (not so) hidden fees. You can also sign up for an online bank, most of which are void of monthly maintenance fees.
Never pay full price when you can use coupons, which are widely available via apps like RetailMeNot, Shopular, SavingStar and Coupon Sherpa, to name a few. And paper coupons still do the trick, of course.
So many deals are available online, especially during certain times of the year like Cyber Monday. Use discount codes whenever possible.
Cut, Cut, Cut
Surely, there are some things you can completely eliminate from your budget.
It may not be your ideal option, but if necessary, downsizing can help you save money. Moving into a smaller apartment, for example, or living with a roommate can alleviate some of the stresses that come with living from paycheck to paycheck.