Did you know, half of American households currently live paycheck to paycheck and two thirds of Americans self-reported they would struggle to save $1000 for a rainy day. Some studies like this one actually report the individuals living paycheck to paycheck make up 78% of the American working population. One thing is clear: it’s a big problem. There are many ways for a person to get caught up in this cycle but fortunately, with the right knowledge, there are many ways to get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle, or avoid it all together.
A budget is key to achieving and maintaining financial wellness no matter where you work or how much you earn. But, are you budgeting correctly?
Here are four strategies to get you on track.
#1 Set Money Aside
It’s not about how much you earn, it’s about how much you keep. You can put yourself in a better financial position than people making two or even three times as much as you do simply by keeping more in your pocket.
Savings should never be underestimated. Even if you can only afford $1 (literally, $1!) it will make a difference. If you save $10 a month, you’ll have over $120 put away within a year’s time, $120 extra you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Of course, this gathers interest from your bank or investments and compounds. Compounding interest is, according to Albert Einstein, “the eighth wonder of the world”.
There are some great tools that can help with this, without you even noticing! Acorns helps invest your spare change by rounding up your purchases to the next closest dollar.
#2 Ask for Assistance
Community assistance programs exist for a reason. Don’t hesitate to utilize them, whether that means requesting food stamps or getting help from a local childcare co-op to help save on babysitting costs.
Assistance can also come in the form of “hand-me-downs”. If you have friends that have wardrobes they cycle through often, or friends getting rid of baby clothing, etc. Don’t be afraid to call dibs! This can be done very casually, and your friends will probably even take it as a compliment to their good fashion sense!
When it comes to providing for yourself and your family, there is no shame in asking for help when it’s needed.
#3 Start A Secondary Income Stream
You’ve probably heard about the millions of full-time and part-time workers who pocket anywhere from an additional few hundred to few thousand dollars each month by setting up a second income stream. That could be transcribing, freelance writing, or even offering your arts, crafts, and tastes through a site like Etsy or UpWork. An extra hour a night could translate into hundreds of dollars extra per month. Do you have any special talents? That might be a good place to start. Second language, musical talents, these are all sought after skills that could help with your side hustle!
If you have time, these avenues can prove to be thrilling creative outlets and also good for your pocket.
#4 Cut Back on Spending
Remember: It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep. That’s a very important saying that you should repeat to yourself regularly. The most effective thing you can do when you need to free up your cash flow is put more of it into savings and less of it out the window. Whenever you are about to buy yourself something, ask the question, “Do I really need this?”
When budgeting, sit down and lay out your monthly income and all your fixed monthly expenses (like rent and the average cost of utilities). Can you swap cable for Netflix and save $50 a month? Can you switch insurance providers and save a little more?
Put your money to work for you by stretching each dollar as far as it will go.
Handling Unplanned Expenses
Sometimes, unplanned expenses present themselves. They may drain out your rainy-day fund or, maybe you can afford to squeeze them in next paycheck, but that means waiting weeks to resolve the issue. In some situations, you simply don’t have time to wait.
The worst possible thing you can do in these circumstances is use a predatory loan source like a payday loan or loans that charge high interest rates. If possible, debt should be avoided entirely.
Luckily, many employers offer financial wellness programs that can help provide employee advances with no interest. ZayZoon can give you access to the money you’re earning as soon as your work day is over. That means you can get access to your regular earnings up to 2 weeks sooner than payday! Imagine being able to pay yourself, on your own terms, rather than waiting for payroll to come around. This no interest, no debt solution is perfect for handling those unexpected, unplanned expenses.
This employee advance is a key part of the average worker’s financial wellness strategy. Click here to learn more about ZayZoon, the company taking over the on-demand wages space.