I have returned empty beer bottles from house parties for quick cash so I could afford to buy a weeks worth of cheap packets of noodle mixes. It was a rite of passage in my 20’s. More recently, when I had to severely scrimp when the economy hit the wall, it just felt like failure. In both cases though, I always stashed a bit of cash away – it helped me maintain a feeling of accomplishment, control and hope. It was to be a cushion or a splurge.
Whether you are earning $150,000 or on the true poverty line, here’s my takeaways on how to save even when you are living paycheck to paycheck.
Capture what you are spending money on.
This is my overall top tip no matter where you are in your financial journey.
This little effort provides you with a reflection of your movement in your life.
A scribble pad or your phone notepad will do.
Take a week to record everything you spend money on and then have a look.
What are you doing that no longer serves you?
What are you not doing that you need for your well-being?
Start making changes immediately.
Ask for help from your household if you need support for changes to your schedule.
Be the leader of your spending – the small stuff
For the small stuff routine items on your list, like groceries and coffees, try putting the weekly cash needed in envelopes to use.
Before sealing, pull out 10% and put into a savings envelope or account.
Mentally celebrate the victory each time you find a way to enjoy more while spending 10% less. There are unlimited opportunities here to stay on your own path rather than those more concerned with the status quo.
Do this every month for the next 6 months.
Sell the things you're not using
Remove maintenance costs and pocket some cash by combing thru your dwelling and selling anything you are not using. It clears mental space and puts relevance to future purchases. Put that cash into your savings envelope or account.
Sleep and Rituals
You are in charge of you. Make a schedule that allows for rituals to revitalize body, soul and mind including a good nights sleep. Good sleep makes for a clear head and good decisions. Bad habits sneak back in when you are not alert. 7-9 hours of sleep period.
Living paycheck to paycheck can be a highly emotionally charged time. Use that emotion as fuel and inspiration for the next step.