After paying the bills there may not be much money left, but with a few changes you are able to save money even if you currently live paycheck to paycheck.
For a long time we lived paycheck to paycheck.
After starting to budget – properly – to track our incomings and outgoings, it was clear that we had just about enough to live on.
We could pay our rent, council tax, bills, debts, buy food and travel to work, but there was nothing left over. Not even a little to put aside for Christmas or birthdays, not a few quid to stash in a piggy bank when we needed a haircut, and certainly not enough to start an emergency fund.
Should you save money while in debt?
There seems to be mixed advice from different people about whether you should save any money when you’re in debt. Some say it’s a must and you should have at least three month’s worth of money saved to cover all possible eventualities such a job loss or big expense in the household.
However, other people that say you shouldn’t put aside for savings and that you should use any available credit such as on a card or overdraft to pay for emergencies – essentially getting more in debt.
This may be ok for some people with debt but we have no spare credit. We have cancelled all out credit agreements and have frozen all our accounts. We will not apply for credit again and don’t want any type of temptation to spend money (thinking about it, I can’t see many creditors wanting to lend us money anyway!!).
Paycheck to paycheck
With no way to pay for anything if an emergency were to happen, we made an agreement that we had to save some money. However, we had the issue that there was no excess money after all our bills are paid.
So, how do we save when we live from paycheck to paycheck?
Increase your income
There are lots of options to try and up your income if there is not enough cash to put a little extra aside.
As a way to boost our funds, we have taken on part time evening jobs, sold our unused stuff and started freelancing [shameless plug: hire me for your writing gig 🙂 ]. This has given us more money to put towards debt, clearing them quicker, but also gives us the option to save a bit of money each month.
If you are looking for other ways to make money then you could ask your employer to see if you are due a pay rise. Have a think, have you taken on additional responsibilities? Are you paid competitively compared to other job advertised locally? If you don’t ask your boss or HR department then you’ll never know and you could be in for a surprise!
Alternatively, why not look to apply for a job that pays more, or one that is closer to home, or a job that costs less to travel to? There are other positions out there so it could be a time to dust off your CV and try for a promotion.
Another option is to start a business on the side. Could you turn your hand to an ironing service, or self home made crafts, do you have skills that you could tutor someone or how about delivering takeaways in the evening? It’s not easy money but it is money and will help to add to your savings. You could even start you own blog!
Decrease your spending
It’s all very well and good getting more money in but if you’re spending money quicker than Usain Bolt runs the 100 meters then you need to reassess your budget.
Some easy things you can do to reduce your spending are:
Gas and electric bill
You could save up to £234 if you switch from one of the big six!
Are you overspending on council tax? Can you claim extra benefits? Or can you split the payments over a longer period? Check out more ways for How to Pay Less Council Tax.
Join the Reduce Your Supermarket Spend Facebook community for support to cut back on groceries.
Cancel your gym membership and look at alternative ways to exercise for free
These are just a few options. Also look to cancel any subscriptions that you don’t use, ask mobile phone contract providers if they can lower your tariff, stop buying lunches at work or stop spending out on expensive coffee in cafes (check out some free alternatives instead!).
Anywhere you can save money will have a positive impact on what you have left over for savings at the end of each month.
Save without realising
After working your way through your budget, cutting everything out you don’t need and trying to increase your income, you may still find that there’s really not much left over.
This doesn’t matter!
Whether you have £10 or £20 left a week just save it. Although it doesn’t seem like much, after a few month of putting the money away it soon starts to add up.
Read more: 5 Ways to Save Money Without Even Trying
Set up a standing order with your bank so the money gets transferred out at the same time each week or month. This way you won’t notice the money leaving your account and it won’t sit there waiting for it to be spent.
Saving money by putting just a little aside each month soon looks really good. After just 12 months, £10 a week becomes £520 and £20 a week becomes £1,040!
Penny for your thoughts: Do you live paycheck to paycheck? What do you struggle most to cut back on?
Ricky Willis is the original Skint Dad. A money-making enthusiast, father, and husband to Naomi. He is always looking for unique ways to earn a little extra.