Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
I get a lot of email from people who are hanging on by a
thread. They’re worried about keeping their homes, keeping their
electricity on and keeping food on the table. Despite the fact that economists say: “The Recession is Over” too many families are still struggling - and
even those who aren’t struggling seem worried.
If this describes someone you know & love, (or you’re
kind of worried about yourself) let me tell you what I’d tell my own sister, brother
or best friend. Keep in mind, I’m no
financial counselor or expert, I’m no theologian or minister either. I’m just
an ordinary working mom with six kids who has learned how to make a dollar (and
how to keep one too.)
So if you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole, or just want
to get ahead, these are 25 of the best ways I know to have (and actually keep your money.)
Desperate for a Fast-Buck, like Right Now?
- Count your Blessings - I'm serious, start with this. Thank God for the blessings you already
have. It's tempting to feel “less thankful” when
you’re at rock bottom, but that’s when you need a thankful mindset the most. Here’s why:
when you fix your mind on things that are lovely, good, noble, just, true,
excellent and praiseworthy it puts you in a frame of mind to actually solve problems instead of just stressing about them.
And frankly, if you’re broke and that bothers you; then you're going need to keep your mind clear and optimistic. When you
deliberately think of (and name) the wonderful things that God has already done for
you and the good things happening even now, you’ll notice a gradual, more productive and positive shift in your ability to problem solve. Realistically, dwelling
on what’s wrong will make you neither richer nor happier. Instead, praise the
Lord for what’s right. And ask God to give you hope for your future. Take
control of your thoughts and focus on your blessings. Count them, name them and
thank the Lord for them. http://www.workingmom.com/aboutpraystation.htm
- Save Something– No matter how
small the amount. Get in the habit of keeping aside a particular sum of money you simply will
not spend. What makes or breaks you is how you discipline
yourself during those times when you’ve “got the money for” small
non-necessities. Instead of buying them -just for the time being- save that money to build
up an emergency fund. Gut Check: if you found a twenty dollar bill on the ground outside right now;
what would you do with it? If you’d
probably get takeout, use it for gas or use it for groceries; then with all due
respect, your tendency to spend whatever you have (or whatever you even find) is part of what's keeping you
broke. For now, steel yourself to tuck money away and practice not touching it. The small choices you make
when you’ve got a few dollars at your disposal directly impact how much money
you’ll have when emergencies arise. (And oh, emergencies will arise.) That's the way to have cash available to weather
unexpected expenses. This is an all-important secret to breaking the poverty
cycle. Practice the art of having: either money in the bank, cash in a secret hiding spot or even keeping a prepaid Visa/Mastercard that you just will not spend. http://www.ally.com/online-savings-account/index.html
- Get Healthy
– Do whatever is within your control to be as healthy as you can be. I
understand that lack of time, money or physical limitations leave a lot of
people hard-pressed to work out or eat right on a regular basis. But keep this
in mind, if you end up hospitalized, or have to take time off work for illness
or disability, it will cost you a small fortune. Start taking the stairs
instead of elevators, park the car further away, when you find yourself bored
at home, take a quick walk around your neighborhood. Basically, make it your
business to move around as much as you are able. Second, eat like your life
depends on it. (And it does, you know) I personally understand how difficult
this is; but if you plan on having more money; do what you can to be as well as
you can be.
Smoking*- From a pure dollars and cents perspective, the biggest
expense isn’t even the cost of the cigarettes. Add in: higher rates for life
insurance, higher rates for health insurance, lower resale value for your home
or car, lost money from using more sick time, and emerging employment
restrictions and smoking wastes more of your money than it’s worth. If you really want to live like you’re rich
(even on a poor girl’s income) then suffer through the withdrawal, quit smoking
and steer clear of situations that tempt you to smoke again. http://whyquit.com/pr/053106.html
- Quit Drinking**-
And I say this with the greatest sensitivity possible. Drinking alcohol is an expensive way to
quench thirst and it’s an expensive way to relax. Aside from the higher cost of
an alcoholic drink, there is the added expense of: reduced productivity, health
implications, relational problems and all the associated problems that can
arise from driving somewhere after a drink or two. Drinking alcohol just won’t
make you richer. If this is a problem for you or someone in your family,
consider this: http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=71
Used – And cars are just the beginning! Furniture, kitchen supplies
etcetera are so much more affordable when you buy used. Always start by
checking out http://www.ebay.com and http://www.Craigslist.com
before you make a purchase.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner - If you want to be richer, then you need to see takeout or
eating at a restaurant as a periodic treat; not a vital part of nutritional
sustenance. Do the math: for $30 you could
get a pretty good meal at a restaurant or maybe Chinese takeout for your
family. Or for that same $30 you could feed your entire family for a WEEK with one of the food Ministries!
- Order Groceries at Low Cost Food Ministries - This
will save you so much money. And it will safeguard against the fear of running
out of food before your next paycheck. To make things easier, most have online ordering and there is at least something operate in almost every state. These are the kinds that have no income restrictions, so even if
your income is pretty high, you can still use them. Most food boxes contain AT LEAST $65 worth of restaurant-quality food for $35. (Some even accept
food stamps.) Imagine how much money you will save if you start feeding your
entire family for just $6 per day! Food Ministries Review
- Save leftovers for lunches - When
you are putting away your leftovers from dinner, put them directly into little
lunch-sized containers. Then it’ll be easy to pack a lunch. Just grab a
container, add a water bottle and a piece of fruit. Not even school lunches or
cheap fast-food restaurants will save you as much cash as packing your
leftovers for lunch. Furthermore, it’ll taste better and help your whole family
maintain better health and weight. We use these: Lunch Containers
- Clip Grocery Coupons -
Even if you get the newspaper, (and especially if you don’t) check out the free
printable grocery coupons online. http://www.workingmom.com/coupons.html
- Get Your House in Order -
You need to know exactly much income you have coming in versus expenses going
out. If you frequently run out of money, then it’s safe to say you are running
at a deficit. Your next step is to know how much it is. We use this budgeting
When it comes to knowing your income versus expenses, ignorance IS NOT bliss.
Being ignorant will leave you “Surprised there’s more month left at the end of
your money.” So figure out the exact amount you need to make ends meet. Then
you have two options: increase your income and/or reduce your expenses. (I recommend
you make an effort to do both.) But remember it’s almost always easier to save
a dollar than to make an extra one.
- Quit Using Credit Cards
- It’s been said over and over again. But they are such a waste of money.
Instead of helping you get
out of a hole; they are a shovel that digs you in deeper.
If you want to have more money, absolutely stop buying things on credit.
It’s the interest and the impulse purchasing that just about kills you. It’s
nearly impossible to save up a sizable emergency fund or savings if a lot of
your income goes to interest for things you didn’t even need in the first
place. I don’t care what the experts say
about building a credit history, I’ve found that cutting up and canceling
credit cards (and just using debit cards or cash instead) are the best way to
build up savings.
- Never buy lottery tickets. Never - It’s called the “Poor man’s tax” for a
reason. The people who tend to have (and keep) their money just don’t play the
lotto. You are more than 99.999% likely to be throwing your money out of the
window with every purchase. This is a bad, bad investment. Buying lottery
tickets, scratch-off’s or any other gambling does not get you rich quick. It is
a surefire way to slowly stay broke.
- Avoid check cashing places or payday
loans - Avoid
them like the plague. Being impatient or just failing to
plan for the future wastes so much money! Payday loan/Check-Cashing/Pawnshop
businesses make a fortune off people who live paycheck to paycheck. It’s people
who don’t (or won’t) plan ahead for emergencies who keep them in business. Why
rich? Instead, make yourself
by avoiding fast-cash or rapid refund places.
- Get rid of your land line or get rid
of your cell phone- Do you actually need both?
- Get rid of cable
- You can watch most shows online for free nowadays. (And with fewer
commercials.) Try http://www.hulu.com
or the official network websites for the shows you like.
- Move to a Lower Cost of Living Area -
When you fill in your budget, if your housing costs, state and local taxes take
up the majority of your income, then it’s time to do some soul-searching and
seriously consider making a move. There are places in this country that simply
cost more to live in than they are worth. (You might be in one of them.) This
tool is pretty eye opening in revealing the cost of living in one place versus
- Start Giving - I
know it sounds counterproductive to build wealth by giving any of your money
away - especially when you are so close to the poorhouse yourself. But it’s one
of the wisest things you can do. Here’s why, if you continue to go about your
life focused solely on solving your own problems; you will lose perspective. Without
it, two things happen: you risk falling short of being a blessing to people you
could actually help. The other is you risk becoming so consumed with yourself
that you fail to see bigger picture solutions -even to your own problems. Added
bonus, God has promised to open His storehouse for you when you give. (It’s the
only place in the Bible where He invites you to test Him.) “Navel gazing” or
failing to see past the tip of your nose doesn’t help you, nor does it help
anyone else. I like the Trockosi Freedom Fund. For more information check out: Innetworkusa.org
- Watch the way you drive.
You can increase your gas mileage 25% -in the car you’re already driving by
using a few easy hyper-miling tips and tricks. Saving Gas’
These tips can reduce the amount of money you spend on gas.
- Do not break the law- No, Seriously -It
takes up valuable time, energy and money when you are even suspected of breaking
any kind of law. Even if you end up
“winning” you still lose all that time, energy and money it took to defend
yourself. Don’t put yourself in situations where you even hang around people
who tend to break (or skirt) the law. If you’ve got hopes, dreams and wishes
for a future that don’t include things like jail time or losing your license,
then this tip is key. Don’t break the law - and don’t even hang around
people who do.
- Return past purchases
- Look around your home for things you’ve bought that you could live without.
Then look for the receipts and take them back. Home Improvement supplies in
particular can give you a substantial infusion of cash. Even if you can’t find
the receipt, many stores will still give you store credit. Look at everything
you currently own with an eye for it’s return potential.
- List stuff you can’t return on Ebay, Amazon or Craigslist - Take a few pictures of your items with
your cell phone camera (or use a digital camera if it’s handy) and upload them
with a brief description onto all three of these sites. Set the prices lower
than comparable listings, and include a “Buy it Now” option.
- Sell your blood plasma
- You can earn up to $50 per week. Do a quick search online to find out where
the nearest paid
plasma donation sites are in your area. Google:
area]” Then check out the websites or call them for more details.
On your first visit, expect to fill out a tremendous amount of paper work, and
bring as much of your ID and medical information as you have. If you pass their
criteria, it should take about an hour to donate your plasma and at the end you
will be paid either in cash or with a rechargeable debit card. It’s not the
most glamorous thing to do, but it is a way to be a blessing to others by
providing lifesaving, desperately needed plasma while earning a few dollars at
the same time.
- Seek emergency assistance-
State]” there may be state
and local programs you know nothing about that help people in situations like
yours. Also contact local churches, explaining your situation asking them to
pray for you and whether they are set up to provide emergency assistance.
Did you notice I only listed four tips listed that generate
fast-money? Did you notice that I put them last? If the main thing on your mind
right now is “How can I get my hands on some fast-money - the sooner, the
better?” Then this last tip is especially for you:
- If you don’t change the things you do
when you HAVE a few dollars, then all too soon, you will be broke again when
another crisis hits.
(But you’ll have already used up the tips that bailed you out the last
time and you’ll be stuck.) It
is the first 20 tips that have the potential to change your future for the
better. Do yourself a favor and start solving more than just your
immediate crisis. Make changes to how you spend, budget and save that will more than stretch your dollars - it's allow you to live rich, even on a poor girl’s income!
*Smoking Costs: http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/get-rich-quit-smoking-20596/
Related Articles: http://workingmom.com/newsletters/ways-to-save-money.html
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