When was the last time you found yourself saying "Thank goodness it's payday"? Was it last week? Last month? A year ago? If you're reading this, you may be one of caught up in the cycle of living from one paycheck to the next. While you dream about ending it, actually doing so may feel like a far off goal you will never reach in your lifetime.
The good news is that there are ways to make that dream a reality. Here are seven ways you can start kicking the habit of living from paycheck to paycheck to the curb.
1) Figure out how you got here
Before you make changes to your budget, look at how you got into this cycle in the first place and where your money goes each month. If you think you have the brain capacity to track your spending on your own, try that. Otherwise, NerdWallet has a few app and service suggestions that might be perfect for your needs.
2) Cook for yourself
If eating out has become a way of life for you, you may want to consider the dent all of those meals make in your paycheck. Save a few of your hard-earned dollars every week with a trip to the grocery store instead of your favorite restaurants and start cooking meals at home. Your cooking skills will improve and your budget will thank you.
3) Pack your lunch
There's a reason why this is one of the first things people think of when they need to cut costs or or want to start saving towards something. Whether you throw together a salad, make a sandwich, or grab a container of leftovers from last night's dinner, you are reducing the amount you spend on food every week. Added benefit? You're making space in the refrigerator for tonight's leftovers.
4) Stop buying coffee at Starbucks
The coffee may be good, but it can also eat up a hefty portion of your paycheck if you are not careful. Instead of stopping off every morning for your coffee fix, cut costs by brewing a fresh cup and taking it with you. Or wait for your cup of coffee until you get to work, if you want to completely cut the cost of coffee out of your budget.
5) Auto draft to the rescue
All of the above are good for cutting costs, but part of getting away from the cycle of living from paycheck to paycheck is building up savings. An easy way to do this is to set up an auto draft to go into your savings account each pay period. The amount should be something you are comfortable with. If you're having trouble coming up with a number, start with what you were spending on coffee or eating out every week.
6) Take a hike
No, we are not talking about you disappearing. If you want to go do something outside the house, though, there is almost always a budget-friendly option. It may be hiking, visiting a museum on one of its free admission days, an art walk, or an event being put on in a local park. All you have to do is look it up online.
Some of the best things in life are free, right? Well, you might find some of them this way.
7) Make yourself accountable
This may sound like the least fun or all, but sometimes what you need to do is find someone to help hold you accountable. Pick someone you trust, like your spouse, a friend, or a relative. Changing old spending habits is hard, but knowing there's someone with you on your journey who wants to help you succeed will make it easier and - maybe - a little more fun along the way.