Tips for Those Living Paycheck to Paycheck


Want financial control but currently have a limited income? It’s not impossible, but it’ll require self-control, persistence, and determination.

Below are some tips to assist you in budgeting and managing your debt:

  1. Address all your debt, which is daunting and scary. No one wants to admit how much debt they’re in, it’s not something we flaunt about. However, identifying the problem is key so go ahead and put it all out on the table.

  2. Make a list of all your financial obligations, including all loans, credit cards, utilities, insurance, car payments, phone bill, rent, etc. (Tip: create an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily updated it as you please).

  3. Organize your debt, from most important to least (i.e. rent, utilities, insurance, car, phone). This part is crucial, as it’ll help you budget accordingly and also give you the option for some wiggle room when you’re tight. This will also help you prioritize. A roof over your head is necessary, that additional decorative pillow is not.

After you created your list and prioritized it, add in the due dates (per month) for each financial obligation. For credit cards, note the closing dates, the credit limit, and the current balance that you’ve utilized and the minimum payment due.

Your Checks: If you get paid weekly or biweekly, estimate approximately how much you’re expecting to get paid for that pay period. Also estimate how much you make overall afters taxes for that month.

Now with your estimated pay from each pay period calculated, go ahead and re-organize your list of obligations by matching the due dates to your pay periods.

  • For example, if your rent is due between the 1st-7th of the month, and you get paid on the 5th, schedule your rent payment on the 6th. Another example is if your utilities are due on the 25th, and you get paid on the 20th, schedule that bill to be paid on the 20th.

Note: understanding your pay periods and where your bills land on those pay periods are important. This is how you can stay afloat when living paycheck to paycheck.

Credit Cards: Always aim to pay your credit cards off in full. If you find yourself short during that pay period, always make sure that your key obligations are paid in full first. With the remaining, decide whether you are able to pay at least the minimum amount due. Sometimes your credit card company can extend your due date or change it to better suit your pay periods.

Ways to Create Extra Income: need more money? Here are a few ways you can earn it —

Marie Kondo your place and sell some things via eBay, Crossroads, OfferUp, Facebook Market, etc. You never know what treasures you may have and might be of significant value.

Got a skill? Pick up contracted gigs/side jobs, offer your services to friends and family members or if you’re good at crafts and can make and sell your pieces on Etsy, try that. Honestly, there’s always some odd job on Craigslist that needs to be done so check that out. If all else fails, the basic tasks such as dog walking and babysitting are always needed too.

Bottom line, if you are really persistent, are self-disciplined, and determined to get a handle on your finances, you will do anything and everything you can to do it. You really have to want it to get it done because it’s too easy to budget for one pay period and then go back to your old habits the next. Hence the cycle of debt.

Knowing what your budget is, tracking it, understanding and seeing where your money goes is key. Having your friends keep you on check and your significant other hold you accountable to your financial goals also helps as well.

Trust me when I say that there honestly isn’t a better feeling than when you’re in control of your finances!

Originally written by Sho with editing by Lisa Linh.

About Shoshanna: Sho is a DIY financial guru, known for her money tips and advise on credit card debt and is an expert on budgeting. She's helped several people raise their credit score, pay off their credit card debt, and also assists those in their taxes. She is currently focused on her medical career, but offers financial tips on during her free time.