A Plan Between Nothing and Drastic
It’s payday baby!
Dangit, it’s a great a feeling when we get paid. At that moment, it’s like we are on top of the world.
That’s the day we are so down for some happy hour. Or it gives us enough confidence to finally buy the new iPad.
Whatever the feeling is, the thought of payday gives us this new sense of feeling okay when spending money.
I kind of think of the effects of payday similar to that of alcohol.
When I get a few drinks in me it’s always easier to go talk to that beautiful girl at the bar. No drinks in me… hell no. I won’t be seen anywhere near her.
The same thing is true for money. As we creep towards the later days since our paycheck, we are tight with our spending. We ask, “Do we need that dessert or that new electronic?” At that time, it is easier for us to answer, “no.”
Suddenly, BAM! When that paycheck comes, we start throwing the dollar bills! We start feeling like Jordan Belfort in his heyday.
Money may not create happiness, but it sure does tend to make people feel happy.
Does this make us greedy? Or maybe it makes us immature? Or lacking in self-control?
I don’t know those answers. Money is a unit that allows for us to live today and, if planned correctly, also positions us to stop working sooner than later.
Balancing how to enjoy the moment, while also planning for the future is EXTREMELY difficult. It is made much more difficult when we live paycheck-to-paycheck… or when we spend freely right after payday.
Getting answers on how to actionably stop living paycheck-to-paycheck is tough to come by.
The Not So Golden Ticket
We all want that surefire way to solve our spending problem or cure our inability to save. Unfortunately, there isn’t one.
I love reading all the other articles that talk about getting past living paycheck-to-paycheck. You know what the common answer is? Don’t do this, don’t do that, stop this, stop that… blah, blah, blah… negative after negative after negative.
They constantly say the same thing:
- Create a budget and don’t spend outside it (Yay! Let me get on that today)
- Cut costs (Ok, that sounds real fun)
- Make more and don’t spend the earned money (Easier said than done, big fella!)
- Track your money (Quicken, here I come)
Even with all my sarcasm, the point of this blog post is not to question those points because they are spot on. It’s also not to question the difficulty of getting out of the glut of living paycheck-to-paycheck because it will likely be one of the greatest challenges we face.
It’s meant to create a step in-between the jump from where we are today to the point we need to be in order to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
The steps mentioned above are meant to produce drastic changes. Are they necessary? Absolutely, but they call for this change to be instant. That is difficult for many of us to swallow, and it’s almost unreasonable to expect such change right away.
We all still want to create the necessary change, but we look for that middle step. That step to help us get from where we are today to where we want to be.
A baby doesn’t go from its mother’s womb to walking. It crawls beforehand. This is meant to provide the steps to crawling… then you can easily move to walking.
5 Ways to Ultimately Get the Golden Ticket
Pay yourself – Log into your online bank account and set up an auto transfer into a savings account (you may have to take the step of setting up a savings account first). Set the transfer to be 20 bucks a month… that’s it. The hope is you start seeing the money saved and you catch the bug. The bug of wanting to save more to get a bigger balance. If you don’t catch the bug, though, it’s okay for now. You are still saving, which is a step in the right direction.
Go to the grocery store on Sundays – Actually, you can pick any day, but make it only one day. For me, I always find myself going to the grocery store for eggs and I come back with Oreos, Doritos, some orange juice and likely more chocolate or sweets. We just tend to overbuy at the grocery store. Keeping it to one day a week as opposed to multiple times a week allows for opportunities for savings.
Go out to the bars on Friday night, watch a movie Saturday night – No one likes being hung over on Sundays anyways. Post after post continues to tell us to not spend money; that’s tough for any of us to swallow. Rather, why not just cut back. Here is an actionable step that allows for us to continue having a social life but also to become smarter with our money.
Lease a (Nissan) Leaf – This is just my thought; don’t run right to the store. But if you find yourself spending the majority of your paycheck on gas every month, look towards this option… especially in Georgia. There could be a potential immediate savings and one that gives you some breathing room for a couple years. This is because of the car being electric and also because of some current tax benefits. See this article that Wes Moss wrote about the Leaf, and how the thing can be basically free for some people. Talk about a potential easy way to start saving right away!
Have your significant other tell you where they spent money… and you do the same – Yeah, accountability really does help…. At least for me. I think that when you tell someone you are going to do something or when someone else is holding you to a particular task, you are more likely to follow through. For me, I started talking with my fiancé about where we were thinking of spending money. And if the conclusion of the conversation between us was that we didn’t need the item, we don’t buy it. In the past, before she was in my life, I would just go buy whatever without thinking it through. I had no one to hold me accountable. That accountability factor is a huge factor in keeping us from spending frivolously.
It ain’t easy… but neither is livin’
So what's the solution to getting out of this paycheck-to-paycheck life? Yes, it's a matter of budgeting, and, yes, it's a matter of cutting expenses and working hard to earn more. It’s all the answers that we have seen in every other post.
However, that doesn't solve the problem of balancing the act of living for today, while saving for tomorrow.
That continues to be the million-dollar question. I think it's easy for people to sit in front of their computer (just like me) and tell you to do all these difficult tasks (budget, cut costs, etc.), right now. We who write about this have to be honest with ourselves at the feat or magnitude of what we are trying to accomplish with our writing and tips.
I do understand the difficulty of that.
The goal of this blog wasn't meant to judge or demand change. It was meant to bring another view to this million-dollar question—in a more fun/laid-back tone.
One that might evoke an internal desire for you to look deeper at your spending ways to figure out your own answers on how to create your own budget and analyze your spending and actually start saving.
Ultimately, the way we change living paycheck-to-paycheck and saving for tomorrow is an individual change. The answers are different for everyone, but they are necessary in order to balance that seesaw of living for today while saving for tomorrow.