Many Americans would cite their paydays as some of the most exciting occurrences of every month. It’s a good feeling to check your bank account and see some extra padding—especially if you’d been living lean in the days before getting your check or direct deposit.
Some of your income undoubtedly goes toward paying bills and debts. But having money makes it more tempting to spend money on nonessentials, and before you know it your paycheck can be gone. Spending too much of your paycheck too quickly only leaves you in the lurch, looking longingly ahead of your next payday. It’s a vicious cycle that’s tricky, but possible, to break.
Savoring your paycheck is a matter of coming up with a plan to spend less and save more.
Pitfalls of Living Paycheck to Paycheck
As Forbes cites, a survey from CareerBuilder found that 78 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck. This includes employees across income levels, as more than one in four workers making $50,000 to $99,000 live paycheck to paycheck and one in 10 workers making more than $100,000 do so. And more than half of the respondents to the survey save less than $100 or more per month, putting them in a precarious financial position if any unanticipated expenses pop up.
Living paycheck to paycheck is sustainable in the now. But it’s a risky proposition in the long term. Why? Because losing that paycheck means you’ll find yourself in trouble, with no substantial savings or emergency fund to help you pull through until you find a new source of income.
Making the most of your paycheck means balancing spending with saving so you’re getting what you need in the present while still preparing for the future. Here’s more on how to do so.
Practical Tips for Saving More & Spending Less
Small adjustments in your spending habits can go a long way toward securing your financial future. Andrew Housser, debt expert and co-founder of Freedom Debt Relief, offers some tips for saving $100 per week during the holiday season that are actually applicable for any time of year:
- Sell what you don’t need: Most of us have extra items sitting around we barely use, but that someone else would gladly buy. Audit your belongings and sell whatever you can. Then save your earnings.
- Save whatever you “save”: Ever notice on the bottom of shopping receipts it’ll say you saved X amount? Instead of patting yourself on the back, actually transfer that amount from your checking to your savings account, even if it’s just a few dollars. This simple act will add up over time, and you’ll barely miss these small amounts.
- Cut down on indulgences: Drinking at bars, ordering coffee to-go, eating at restaurants and seeing movies in theatres are fun but not strictly necessary. Reduce expenditures like these by substituting in more cost-effective methods.
- Cancel underutilized subscriptions: Are you paying monthly for a membership or subscription you barely use? Cancel it and reroute those savings into your emergency fund.
- Make more meals at home: Cooking at home is fun and satisfying, and it’ll save you a boatload in food expenditures.
Of course, the most basic and reliable way to savor your paycheck is to make your savings plan automatic. Instead of letting money sit in your checking account—which makes it all too easy to spend on a whim—set up automatic transfers so a set amount each week goes into your savings/emergency fund/retirement account. As they say: Out of sight, out of mind.
Breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle will help you build long-term wealth, one payday at a time. And you’ll still have money for some of your favorite nonessentials, within moderation.