Earning enough money each month to cover your bills and living expenses is not just an issue for low- and moderate-income earners in America. A new survey shows that wealthier households are living paycheck to paycheck too, either by necessity or by choice.
A LendingTree survey taken in June 2022 revealed that 61% of Americans are barely making ends meet with their paychecks. Not only that, but 52% of U.S. residents making between $100,000 and $150,000 were living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to the survey.
The challenge with a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is that it often doesn't leave room to pay for emergencies. If you are spending everything you earn and not saving for rainy days, emergencies, and retirement, you may be forced to pay for unforeseen expenses with high-interest credit cards or loans. That can lead to a cycle of debt that keeps you from gaining financial freedom. Additionally, not saving for retirement can mean you aren't able to leave the full-time working world as soon as you would like.
Here are five strategies to help you effectively manage your cash flow and finally get ahead.
1. See Where You Stand
Before you can truly take control of your finances and start saving more, you must get a handle on where your money is going every month. You can do this by reviewing a few months of your bank or credit union statements and credit card bills. Don't rush through this process. Dig in and go line-by-line. If there are obvious places you can make cuts, such as memberships you no longer use, that's a good place to start.
2. Set Financial Goals
When you have a better idea of how much you are spending on take-out meals and everything else, set aside a little more time and ask yourself what you want your income to help you accomplish, immediately and several years from now. This is where you can lay out a path that can eventually help you save the money to pay for a new house, a wedding, a college education, and retirement.
3. Commit to a Budget
Even if you started a budget and failed several times, it's not too late to try it again. If the "B" word makes you cringe, then think of it as a spending plan or a way to map out how your money will work for you. You can also go about it the old-fashioned way with a digital or paper spreadsheet. Create a line for every monthly expense, including housing, utilities, transportation costs, food, streaming services, insurance, etc. If this adds up to more than you bring in, it's time to adjust. Town & Country offers several budgeting tools available in the financial wellness section on our website.
4. Automate your Savings
The easiest way to save some of the money you make now is to automate the savings so that it's deducted from your account every time you are paid, or at least once a month, and moved to a different account. Out of sight truly is out of mind. You will be amazed at how quickly your savings will add up.
5. Consider a Side Hustle
If you find yourself in a financial hole, it's time to stop digging (a.k.a. spending). If you have the bandwidth, you could take on a side job, at least for a while, to pay off high-interest debt. You could also get more training to earn more at your current job. Once you pay off high-interest debt, start saving more.
Talk to a financial wellness expert at Town & Country Federal Credit Union about other ideas and resources available, many of which are free. Visit tcfcu.com; call 800.649.3495; or stop by a branch. Town & Country offers award-winning financial wellness programs and is a recognized leader in financial wellness.
*Reprinted in partnership with SavvyMoney. Town & Country was the first financial institution in Maine to partner with SavvyMoney and offers Credit Score by SavvyMoney free to all members