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paycheck

In Budgeting on
October 5, 2015

Living paycheck to paycheck? Not anymore…

Are you one of those people who find themselves in a pinch at the end of every month? Do you cringe when you see the mailman walking from door to door, hoping that he skips your house because you know it’s only going to beanother bill?  Don’t you just wish you could pick as many silver dollars off of your money tree and to not have to worry anymore? I can completely relate, I have been there.

When I was young and single, living on my own in my mid twenties I was so sick of money. It seemed to be the root of “all evil” in my family and my relationships. When I broke up with my last boyfriend, he told me that I was too obsessed with money and unfortunately, he was right. I made everything I did about money and I became a bit neurotic about it. You see, I came from a family where my mom and dad got divorced at an early age and money was always tight. My dad was always saying, “There is no money. There is no money.” In fact, that is the one statement I can remember him saying all too often. I was somehow trained to have money at the back of my mind at all times, which certainly wasn’t a healthy thing, since I looked at money as a curse not a blessing.

I wanted to be the one to break the chain. To be the one would make a positive turn around in the financial department. I never wanted to be the person to say that I didn’t have enough money or couldn’t afford this or that. So I became very interested in finances at an early age, having to budget on my own and make sure that I could afford everything (apartment rent, food, car insurance, gas, cell phone bills, etc.) I learned to grow up pretty fast.

I was living paycheck to paycheck because I was a single girl living on my own in expensive Northern New Jersey, how could I not be? I always thought, “how can anyone afford anything?” I was struggling even as a Registered Nurse, someone who makes a somewhat decent income! The four years I spent living on my own, I lived within my means butnever had much left over to contribute substantially to savings or my future, until now.

A few things that I learned during this time period in my life all seem so simple now. Budget, cut back, shop wisely, get creative and DIY.  You can stop the cycle of living and working, just to pay off your bills and debts.  Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but there are changes we can make here and there to help ease up our worries and STOP making money our enemy.

1. Set up a budget

Budgeting is essential. You need to make a list of your expenses every month and compare it with how much money you are bringing in. Writing everything down makes it much easier to see where your money is going and to hold yourself accountable for your spending.

2. Cut back on non-necessities

Too often we find ourselves spending lots of money on things that we don’t really need. Did I need to go out to the bar for the fourth weekend in a row this month and blow $30 a pop? Could I have bought one less coffee a week at Starbucks? Did I need to buy those super cute shoes that I have no outfit to even wear them with? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves. Are we pulling back the leash on our spending or letting our impulses get the best of us and our wallet? My husband and I set a budget specifically for miscellaneous spending. We allow each other $75 of carefree spending. Remember, you still need to have fun…but all in moderation.

3. Shop wisely

This is a key to cutting back on spending. Do you spend a lot of money on clothes, shopping on designer and name brand items? Would you ever consider shopping at Wal-Mart for clothing or somewhere cheaper that would allow for you to free up some extra cash. Do you always buy name brand items when grocery shopping? Would you ever consider buying store brand to save a little bit here and there? Are coupons your friend? If they weren’t, they are now. You can make significant cutbacks just from couponing. There are so many awesome Apps out there that provide you with free coupons and give you money back, take advantage of them! Some of my favorites include Ibotta, SnipSnap and ShopKick.

4. Get creative

Make some extra cash by going through your closet and selling the things you no longer want and need. Have any old designer handbags? Try putting them up on ebay. I did this and make a good $300 selling old items from my closet that were collecting dust! Whatever you don’t sell, donate to a local charity.

Get a hobby. Start making things and even selling them if you’re good at it. My best friend and I came up with a company in our mid twenties and we design and sell custom bracelets on the side for extra spending money. My husband loves to build things, so he recently opened up an online shop where he can now sell all of his favorite designs.

5. DIY 

Do it yourself. You have heard this before. Sounds simple right? It is! Find a nice little spot in your backyard or a small spot on your apartment deck where you can plant some herbs and vegetables. Go to the dollar store and grab some cheap pots and pick up some seeds and soil from your local nursery. Who knows, you might even develop such a great green thumb that you end up giving away half of your garden because you have grown so much! 😉

As with all things building wealth takes time. You won’t be able to save $500 overnight, but over two to three months, it is definitely possible! It is all about your mindset. You CAN do it. Apply these simple changes and in time you will see money left over at the end of the month accruing in your account. You will see your money start to grow.

By budgeting wisely my husband and I have been able to use money to our advantage. I now view money as a positive thing that I have been entrusted with to manage well. The key is to let your money work for you… not the other way around!

Until next time,

Jess

PS: This post was my very first post published on Society Letters! You can find it here.

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