First job? Congratulations! But, despite the steady paycheck, do you still find it hard to save? Do you struggle to make it until payday? If you answered yes to either of the above questions, you may be a Canadian living the cyclical paycheck-to-paycheck nightmare. With a few small adjustments to your lifestyle you may be able to cut out a significant portion of the financial fat holding you down.
Set a budget that sticks
The first, and perhaps most important, step to saving money is setting up a budget and sticking to it. Take a couple hours to sit down and go over typical day-to-day expenses, from buying milk to paying rent to hitting the gym. Write these expenses down in a column and rank them in terms of importance to your life. Once your list is complete, compare the expenses to how much money you’re taking in. Proceed to eliminate any items which you can afford to trim.
Pretend you have less
Whether you’re at the store or catching up with friends at a local restaurant, try to block your most-recent paycheck out of mind. Convince yourself that you have less money than you do and you might end up spending less as a result.
Pay off debt
Debt is a significant contributing factor to the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. When you have a debt to pay, the tendency is to avoid paying if off, which can mean spending any money you make. With a debt hanging over your head what’s the point of saving money, right? Look at your debt as a plug in your savings process. Before you can go on your next trip, before you can buy more clothes and before you can start stashing away money for a rainy day, take care of your debt first. Once you pay off the money you owe, you can start owning the money you make. To start tackling debt, identify bills with the highest interest rates and tackle those first. Although you do not have to completely pay these off with one swipe, try to pay as much as you can afford on these higher interest bills. For the rest, maintain at least the minimum payments.
New restaurant down the block? New movie out today? Friend wants to go out for the third time this week? Feeling pressure? It’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. While you do not have to lock the doors to your apartment and say goodbye to your social life, not going out every night has definite financial perks. When you take all of the money you spend eating out, meeting up with friends at night or the monthly weekend getaways, there is quite a pile of cash on the table. By simply not agreeing to do everything, you can save money to do more.