In what is seemingly a worrying trend, more and more adults are living on the financial knife-edge that is living pay cheque to pay cheque. Every month, their income is stretched to the limit, until they are literally left with pennies the day before payday. What is even more sad, is that once in the cycle of pay cheque to pay cheque, it is incredibly difficult to break that cycle.
Not only must this be a really pressured way to live, but if you are one of these people, then you are one step away from financial chaos if anything goes wrong. If one event tips the balance over, then the beginnings of a downward spiral is more likely, and then even more pressure will begin to mount. One emergency, such as a broken washing machine, or a broken down car, could really put the spanner in your financial works, so to speak. Or worse, problems with benefits or delayed payments for whatever reason, and then suddenly you cannot pay the electricity bill, or the rent payment for the month.
What a scary situation to potentially be in. Imagine every month, there’s that niggling thought in the back of your mind that if everything continues smoothly, then it’ll be alright. If not, then you have to cross that bridge when you get to it! The pressure and anxiety of financial stress chips away at your confidence, makes you begin to question things you wouldn’t normally, and lose sleep over worrying.
There is one thing you can do to make life infinitely better in this scenario: stop living pay cheque to pay cheque.
Of course, this is easier said that done, especially if you are in the cycle every month, but there are definite steps you can take so that you can begin to change how you view your finances and begin your journey to a better financial future. I’m hoping to give some steps to help people in this situation so that, eventually, finances are not something to be avoided each month and no more “just hoping for the best”.
1). Do a Statement of Affairs. This is a complete overview of your finances, starting with your income and then every single outgoing you can think of. Add these all up so you can see what you think is your income vs. outgoings. If you have any debts, this also goes into this section, with your payments every month includes – this, after all, is another outgoing expense.
2) Stop trying to keep up with the Jones. Now, this does not apply to everyone, but it applies to more than most. You do not need everything that social media/tv/friends/society tells you that you need. New car? Definitely not. 60″ tv? Not necessary. New outfits? Not required. The latest gadget/phone? Not obligatory. It really is that simple in the end; if you want something new, then save for it. Buy it second hand. Do not be taken in by the shininess of a new item.
3) Pay all of your Direct Debits on the same day. Preferably the day after payday, so all of the important bills are paid. Automation of all bills is so much better in terms of managing finances, as there should be no surprises and no unpaid bills. Or, if you get paid weekly/bi-weekly, then stagger your payments to fit in with your income days.
4) Keep a spending diary and be honest about it. Seriously, in order to understand your finances and what your spending habits are, then you need to know them inside and out. Most people have spending traits, whether it’s food, clothing, music, or electronics. These are more easy to spot when you write everything down! Then, you can begin to cut down on those miscellaneous spends that add up over the month and claw back some money.
5) Start to build up an Emergency Fund. As soon as you have some spare change at the end of the month, put it into a savings account and start your emergency fund. That way, when unexpected expenses pop up, you can use your emergency fund rather than your income. This will then ease the pressure. Aim for 3-6 months, eventually, but slow and steady wins the race.
I hope this helps someone; financial worries are no fun at all, and I think that we should be doing more to teach children about finances so that when they enter the adult world, they don’t feel so lost when it comes to money.
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