Reducing the stress of living paycheck to paycheck

These tips can help you get out of the two-week money squeeze.

When bills are due before payday arrives, choices may get expensive and painful. High-interest credit card borrowing? Late-payment fees? Hold your breath and risk a collection? If this happens to you, you’re not alone. It can be tough to stay on an even financial footing with everything life throws at you, but there are ways to help reduce financial stress. Here is some advice that may help.

  • Learn from others who successfully live paycheck-to-paycheck. Methods include aligning bill days more closely with paydays to minimize cash gaps, negotiating a reduction in healthcare bills, borrowing money from family or friends, or taking side jobs like yard work or childcare. See “Stretching your paycheck to fit your life.”
  • Evaluate your spending by wants vs. needs. For example, soda vs. medicine. Keep a want/need spending log for a month or two. Also, check out our article, “Seven tricks to help save money every month.”
  • Set aside some cash, even a small amount, in an emergency fund. It may feel like one more expense, but once you have money set aside, it could help reduce anxiety. Start small, perhaps contributing 5% of one week’s paycheck. Consider setting up an automatic transfer of a small amount from your checking account to a savings account and check out our other advice about emergency saving.
  • Take a weekend afternoon to sign up for online tools that can help you cut spending and boost saving. While you’ve probably already squeezed savings from your paycheck, offload some of the work to these tools. Spend Setter helps set monthly spending limits in the categories you choose.
  • Every time you use your Huntington credit or debit card, the transaction is tracked against the limit you set for that category. Savings Goal Getter helps you set up as many as 10 goals, plus an emergency fund.
  • Cut the stress that doesn’t help your finances. Scolding yourself for financial missteps could affect other positive steps you’re taking. See, “Advice for when money stress is overwhelming you.” Also, find a sympathetic ear. Talking about money can be difficult. According to J.D. Roth, a financial blogger who focuses on money and stress, it’s crucial to talk to someone who will really listen to you if you want to clear your head.

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