When you have little income, it is easy to overlook the choices that you have to improve your financial situation. Caught up in the circumstances of living paycheck to paycheck, it is easier to take say “there is no choice” than to make the tough choice to make changes.
If you are currently living paycheck to paycheck there are a few things that you can do now to help your future:
1) Track your spending, every penny. This can seem tedious, but the fact is most of us spend a little money in places that we frequent often, and that can add up to a larger amount over the course of the month. That drink or snack may only be $2.00, but when you stop in three times a week for the convenience of it, that is $26.00 a month or over $300 a year. If at all possible, buy the drink or snack at the grocery store in a package and save money.
2) Realize the difference between needs and wants.
- Take care of the needs – food, shelter, utilities, clothing first, but be realistic. Don’t spend on name brand if you can get the same thing cheaper without the tag (sometimes you have to experiement to see if it is similar enough).
- Then look at those things that are important – transportation, telephone, childcare. Ask yourself if there is a way that you can get it cheaper – you don’t have to have the newest phone or car. You may want your little one to be involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, but it is not necessary. Find the one that is most important to the child (This can also take a few seasons to get right). Take into account the gas and other expenses tied to the activity.
- When it comes to wants – save. We all need to have a little money built in the budget for something not a need, but that may require you save a few months to get it. Denying yourself in the present, will make you enjoy it more later, and usually if you have to wait, something else will come along that is better.
3) Look for ways to save money, and when you do, really put the money away for savings.
- Buying off brands
- Check for rebates
- Ask for scholarships (for kids extracurricular activities)
- Shop around for the best price
- Carpool, bike, or walk when possible
4) Don’t believe the lie that when you make more you will do it differently. If you do not choose to develop healthy habits now , they will not just appear when your income increases.
Remember that you always have a choice. You can make the choice now to overcome your financial situation, or you can continue on the path you are on, and make the choice later when it is worse.