Thursday, December 1, 2011

Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck? 30 Tips on Gaining Traction and Saving Money!

Becoming a one income family has opened my eyes in ways I could never express. The transition, to one income, was by far the most difficult. Living paycheck to paycheck became a reality. Saving money…well that wasn’t happening! Our salvation came when we began showing some signs of discipline in addition to redefining our wants and needs. Frugality for this family comes now out of necessity. And, it has been the great blessing!
But, when living paycheck to paycheck leaves you little room for saving money, the blessings can be hard to find.
You see, I know what it feels like when you are working so hard and it seems like you’re getting nowhere.  And, I know what it’s like to wonder “how on earth will we make the ends meet come the end of the month?" Not to mention what we would do if an emergency were to happen or the car were to break down!
For some of us it simply comes down to putting food on the table or putting money in the savings account, and the children have to eat. Even when there is a little extra money, it’s very hard to save.
So how are we supposed to save when we’re living paycheck to paycheck?
I will tell you this…it is really, really hard, but it can be done.
Sometimes our circumstances in life leave us paralyzed. Sometimes we feel desperate, which leads us to search for a quick fix or an easy way out. As I have learned, there are no quick fixes, no easy ways out, when it comes to money and saving it!
It takes steady discipline. And trust…
The lessons we as a family have learned over the days of this past year, through times of feeling pretty desperate financially, have blazed a path for us into the future. One that I am convinced we would have never chosen on our own. They have not been easy days! Oh no! Quite the opposite, but they have been good nonetheless. In fact, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. These days are maturing us as individuals, they are strengthening our family, and they are inspiring us to learn all sorts of sustainable and entrepreneurial things we never would have ever dreamed or pursued!
Here are 30 tips that have helped us gain some traction and save money:
1.  Redefine wants and needs (make a list)
2.  Create a budget and stick to it.
3.  Remember: “You’re not stuck unless you choose to be.”
4.  Count your blessings rather than all the difficult things in your life.
5.  Commit to living debt-free.
6.  Use any extra time you have in your day to increase your income.
7.  Start saving small amounts (i.e. $2, $5, $10 per month).
8.  Teach yourself a new skill such as sewing, painting, or computer software programs (utilize DIY books or YouTube)!
9.   Read books that will help develop your interests (use the library).
10. Ask friends and family to save cans for you. Recycle them when you need a few extra bucks.
11. Trade in DVDs or video games at a game exchange shop.
12. Instead of giving away your children’s clothing, take it to a consignment shop and get some cash or a store credit.
13. Check out itunes U. There are thousands of free college courses, lectures, and instructional videos for you to learn from. That’s right…all free!
14. Have an extra room in your home…rent it out.
15. Look into buying in bulk and discounted food programs.
17. Save your tax return, don’t spend it.
18. Line dry clothes
19. Drink water instead of buying juice
20. Shop yard sales
22. Find a hairstylist to do your family’s hair in exchange for you cleaning her house.
23. Sell the cutter (craigslist, have a yard sale, etc.)
24. Pass out fliers in wealth neighborhoods offering a Christmas light hanging service
26. Grow-Your-Own food
27. Remove negative influences from your life
28. Stay positive
29. Stay faithful
30. Do what you love!
When attempting to gain traction for the first time, I suggest starting by spending some time redefining “enough”. Take a good look and your needs vs. wants. Then begin setting a few attainable goals each month. Once those goals are accomplished, try adding a few more. Little by little, and only when you feel ready, increase the goals. Setting goals, who cares if they are big ($100 per month savings) or small ($2-$5 per month savings) just so long as they are attainable, can give you enormous encouragement when you actually reach them.  
Never give up. It’s true, there are no easy outs and our situations will not change overnight. But if you keep up the hard work, continue with the discipline, constantly re-evaluate needs and wants, keep setting attainable goals, pursue your passions, and keep going when the going gets tough, I promise you it will pay off in the end.
Be encouraged today! You are not alone! The answer is out there. To quote Albert Einstein:
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Take the time today to leave an encouraging comment! It could be exactly what someone needs to hear. Have you lived paycheck-to-paycheck? Are you now? How did you make it through?

You can also participate in and continue the discussion on our facebook page!

See this post and a host of others like it here: Simple Lives, Your Green Resource, It's A Keeper, Friday Favorites, Fight Back Friday's, Fresh Bites, Frugal Friday, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Sunday School, Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Cure for the Common Monday, More the Merrier, Made By You Monday, Make Something Monday, Fat Tuesday, New Nostalgia, Tip Me Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Terrific Under $10, Raising Homemakers, Wicked Awesome Wednesday


At December 1, 2011 at 8:03 AM , Blogger Julia + geocaching = juliecache said...

nice post!

At December 1, 2011 at 8:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this! Lots of ideas I hadn't really considered!

At December 1, 2011 at 9:11 AM , Blogger elaine said...

I can't believe I'm the first to comment on such an awesome post! We are celebrating our 27th anniversary today and for most of that time we have had budget/money issues of some sort or another. We have lived out practically every thing you mentioned and I just want to affirm - it does work! And, you mentioned several new things I hadn't considered - can't wait to look into itunes U!! We even survived 11 months of unemployment and at the end I could honestly say we did not lack for one, single thing. We were not prepared financially but we pulled together and kept a good attitude and I look back on that period of time as a very sweet time. I think my hubby struggled a little more than I did :) I wish I could say we have "crossed the finish line" but it is still a day-to-day thing with deciding what is essential and what is important and what isn't necessary at all. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this list together - I will certainly reference it again and pass it along to my young 20's and teen children. God Bless!

At December 1, 2011 at 9:12 AM , Blogger elaine said...

Now that the page has refreshed I see I'm not the first - you can delete that part if you wish :)

At December 1, 2011 at 9:18 AM , Anonymous Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog said...

Great post and good luck living on 1 paycheck for the time being.

At December 1, 2011 at 9:20 AM , Blogger Jenifer said...

We are doing it now...Plus we are having another baby in February so then it will be just my husbands income. (I am temp right now and don't see how we will be able to afford daycare after the baby so I will eb getting very creative and resourceful!!) :) I have started selling alot of unused items on FB garage sale sites and c-list. Plus dabbling a little in arbitrage...I am also considering a blog. My goal is to take the money made online and pay off debt and/or put into savings.

And just when I think I can't take it no more, I remind myself that it's all's about to change.

At December 1, 2011 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Pam said...

I love this post! I bookmarking it so I can re-visit it. We made a decision to be a one income family once our son was born. So, yes - we know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck. Things are much better now as I am learning ways that I can save money at home, as well as learning as a family that debt freedom is an incredible gift - not a burden. You had a few things on your list that we haven't done, yet. So, thank you for an encouraging post.

At December 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM , Blogger april@gingerbread said...

Thank you for the sweet comment...I am your newest follower!

At December 1, 2011 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal said...

We have a personal situation where we might get better quality of life but have less $. Very timely post...:) Thanks for linking.

At December 1, 2011 at 11:09 AM , Anonymous Andy said...

With regards to #11, I've had a lot of experience with this, and the best option by far is to sell the items yourself to another person, via Craigslist/eBay/Amazon. Stores like Gamestop and Exchanges will rip you off when it comes to the value of your items. It takes more time, but the difference in money is well worth the effort. All three are free to list the items on. Amazon and eBay take a fee if the item sells.

At December 1, 2011 at 11:11 AM , Blogger Vanessa said...

What a great post!

At December 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Good Girl Gone Green said...

Love this list!!!

At December 1, 2011 at 6:26 PM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

Great post Andrea. :-) Your steps are a great foundation for being debt takes resolve and it takes dedication. Living debt free is a way of life. :-)

At December 1, 2011 at 6:43 PM , Blogger Malynda Twitchell said...

This is awesome Andrea!! Thank you so much for sharing!! This post has inspired me magnificently! I am so looking forward to learning more from you!!

At December 1, 2011 at 9:44 PM , Anonymous Crystal said...

Great post! We currently do and have for some time lived paycheck to paycheck as a single-income family of six. I've been doing a lot of research on how to live more frugally and be happier because of it. It's a long and difficult process, especially since I wish I would have known all I do now when we first got married before we had kids! But, we're getting there. Thanks for the encouragement your blog provides. Probably going to subscribe!

At December 2, 2011 at 3:55 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks for the ideas!

At December 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Anonymous Melanie said...

WONDERFUL tips!!! Thank you so much!

So nice to 'meet' you today! I blog at "Only A Breath" and would love for you to stop by and visit :)


At December 5, 2011 at 7:10 PM , Anonymous Jill@ said...

Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

At December 6, 2011 at 9:54 AM , Blogger Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Living paycheck to paycheck? Laws, yes. Learn to sew, it will save you tons of money. Learn to cook from scratch. Keep a list of items to watch for in thrift shops/garage sales. Collect ideas all year long for gifts to make. Organize your shopping trips for efficiency. Make lists and review them often. My kids still tease me about my list filled spiral notebooks. We raised 4 kids on a limited budget and they appreciate the lessons learned.

At December 6, 2011 at 11:50 AM , Anonymous Meghan said...

We are lucky enough to be able to save money while living on my husband's grad student salary and my part-time salary. To make it work, we do a lot of the things you suggest - especially the needs vs. wants assessment. Thankfully we have enough extra for some wants - like Netflix Instant - but we skip a lot of things that most people consider routine in order to make it work. It's all worth it in the end. We do not have kids yet but hopefully will be able to keep saving when we do.

At December 6, 2011 at 5:33 PM , Anonymous Shiloh said...

So many good ideas. I think a lot of them are helpful even for people who aren't struggling with finances.

At December 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM , Blogger Casa De Luna said...

Thanks for the ideas! I feel like I can do #6, #11 and more line drying. Thank you!!

At December 10, 2011 at 2:01 PM , Blogger Natasha said...

great tips

would love it if you could share this on my link party Serenity Saturday at

Natasha xx

At December 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM , Blogger Tybee Dreaming said...

I just discovered ur blog and I'm ur newest follower. I became disabled in June and I just got accepted for Social Security Disability so I have been living on NO pay check for 6 months. You learn to save and make a little money when u have nothing coming in. I sold everything that was not essential to my living. Asked neighbors, businesses for any kind of scrap metals, such as aluminum cans,copper,brass etc to take to the scrap yard for money. I unplugged everything that was not being used to save on electricity. I make big meals so I can eat them for at least 3 days and with veg in season to get the most for my money. To save gas I fill my car up every 2-3 weeks. When I go shopping I do all of it in one trip. You learn to survive and get thru and Yes it can be done.

At December 12, 2011 at 8:16 PM , Blogger Amy Bowman said...

You are featured on New Nostalgia's Anti-Procrastination Tuesday! Thanks for linking up!

At December 13, 2011 at 5:05 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I can't tell you how refreshing your list of tips is. So often these lists only include tips on doing without but you address the bigger question of how to do better by improving ourselves. great post. Thanks so much for sharing.


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