Would you be surprised if I told you that 76% of Americans live from one paycheck to the next? On top of that, 27% don’t have anything in savings to fall back on if they have suffer a job loss.
No one really wants to live worrying about money from one check to the next. It takes hard work and dedication, but the cycle can be broken. If you find yourself in a similar situation then here are some tips to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck and start living on your own terms.
Start tracking your spending
The first step that you need to take, and possibly one of the most important, is you need to track your spending. For one month, document everything that you spend money on. It should be everything from how much you paid for a small cup of coffee all the way up to your rent or mortgage payment.
If you are married, make sure your spouse joins in on this process. An easy and free way to document everything is with a Google spreadsheet. It can be accessed online which means multiple people can work on the document together. There are also online tools like Mint.com, which will sync up to your bank account and credit cards and keep track of your spending for you.
After a couple of months you will start getting a better picture of what you are spending your money on. From there you can set up a budget that you feel you can live with each month.
Begin cutting back on your spending
Now that you know what you are spending your money on each month, it’s time to start cutting back. Maybe you cut out expensive dinners that put you over your per diem amount, or maybe you have your spouse at home downgrade the cable plan.
Are you carrying a credit card balance each month? If you are, then you’re spending extra money each month on finance charges. If you can eliminate your credit card debt quickly, then do so. If it’s going to take some time, then it’s important to come up with a plan. If your credit cards currently have a high interest rate then you can look into getting a 0% balance transfer card. If you go this route make sure you have a plan to pay off your balance before the promotional 0% interest period is over. If you don’t then you will be right back where you started.
As a truck driver your insurance is a big expenditure each month. Continually shop around to see if there is a lower rate elsewhere. This is a simple way to help reduce your monthly expenses.
Finally, do your best to avoid any fees that are not a must. Don’t use ATM’s that are not part of your bank’s network. Also if your bank charges a monthly maintenance fee, then you should look at moving to a bank that has completely free checking.
Increase your household income
One of the easiest ways to stop living paycheck to paycheck is to increase your income. If you are an independent owner-operator, work to establish a great relationship with a couple of dedicated clients. By doing this, you could end up being the first call when a load needs to be delivered.
Alternatively, if you are driving for a fleet, make sure you have a strong relationship with your dispatcher. Becoming a reliable driver should give you the best loads on the most desirable routes.
Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t something that many people want to do. With a little budgeting, some cost cutting, and a little extra income you can end the cycle and start living the way you really want.