How to Get Ahead if You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Some recent studies showed that more than two thirds of people are living paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

That’s pretty incredible!

It seems to be getting harder and harder to keep your head above water financially, and there is no lack of reasons why that’s happening.

Some of it is because our attitudes about money have changed over the years.  Some of it is also because of the changing economy, and some of it is probably due to the fact that the world is rapidly changing, and some are getting left behind because they refuse to change.

But this isn’t necessary a recent problem.  It’s been happening even since ancient times, as evidenced in the Bible in Haggai 1:6, where it says:

You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

But just because there are plenty of reasons why it’s harder to make ends meet doesn’t mean that you can’t still become financially successful.

There is always hope.


Getting Rid of the Paycheck to Paycheck Mindset

Any time you’re trying to bring about change in your life, you have to start with the conscious decision that no matter what, you’re going to make that change happen.

So when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and it seems there is just no way to get ahead, the first step you have to take is to get your mind right.

It’s so easy to believe that living paycheck to paycheck is just the way your life will always be.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Once you get your mind right, there are several steps you can take to get off the paycheck to paycheck treadmill and overcome the mindset that comes with it.

Read below to discover exactly how you can get it done.


Understand Why You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Now that you have achieved the right mindset and made the decision that you’re never going back, then you have to figure out how you got there in the first place.

Here are some of the common reasons that come to mind:

  • Luxuries Have Turned Into Needs- Eating out several times a week, Cable TV, and a lot of other things that used to be extras have become “necessities”.  But seriously, these are not needs, they are wants.  You can add them back once you fix your finances.
  • You’re Overspending- Like most people, you spend more than you make. You need to gain more control over your spending.  This usually happens because you don’t have a plan.
  • You Decided That Debt is Just a Part of Life- It doesn’t have to be.  You have to decide to be different, because being normal means you’re broke.  Car payments and credit cards DO NOT have to be a part of your life.
  • It’s Too Easy to Spend Money- Credit cards don’t feel like real money.  When you swipe and sign it doesn’t hurt the same as when you’re using cash.  The result is that you end up overspending before you even realize what you’ve done.
  • You’re Not Making Enough Money- You may be underemployed. Or maybe you’re just being average at your work and need to kick it up a notch to achieve the raises and opportunities that come with being awesome at work.
  • You Don’t Have a Plan For Your Money- You don’t really keep track of your money and you just keep spending until the money runs out.  Then you get your next paycheck and do it all over again.  You don’t have the slightest clue where all your money goes.  This is the number one reason most people end up living paycheck to paycheck.
  • You Have a Serious Spending Problem- You may have a lack of self control that you need to address, such as a shopping addiction.
  • The Job Market is Changing- Businesses have been changing the way they hire and compensate employees.  It’s very important that you learn to change with the times and understand how to overcome the challenges that come with the changing business environment.

There is a great book by Dan Miller titled “48 Days to the Work You Love- Preparing for the New Normal” that can help you with that. (affiliate link)


Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself if you want to figure out what is truly causing your financial problems.

It might be painful to confront your issues, but lying to yourself is never going to help you move forward in life.

Once you start to understand some of the main reasons why you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you can start taking concrete steps to totally overcome them.

In my next post, I’ll give you specific strategies to help you leave the paycheck to paycheck life for good, so you can move ahead financially,

Until next time…

Question:  Have you struggled with any of the problems in the bullet points above?

Leave a comment and tell me which one you struggle with the most.

About Dr. Jason Cabler

6 Responses to “How to Get Ahead if You’re Living Paycheck to Paycheck”

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  1. We aren’t living paycheck to paycheck, but our incomes are going to be reduced soon as career changes happen for both myself and my wife. We are working hard to transition many of the luxuries we are accustomed to into wants that we can indulge in if we have the money.

    I think this is where many people get tripped up. They have a medical issue or a job change and even though their income decreases, they keep spending as they have been accustomed to.

    • I think you’re right, a lot of people have had their income go down over the last few years but kept living the same lifestyle, which is a recipe for disaster.

      My income went down substantially in 2009-2013 and is finally rising again. If we hadn’t had the sense to cut spending and really focus on the essentials, we could be having a lot of problems at this point.

      Fortunately we’ve done ok. It certainly helps that we were already debt free except for the house, and don’t use credit cards. Not having access to a credit card goes a long way toward staying out of trouble when times get lean.

  2. I struggled with many of these when I was in the middle of debt. I accepted that it was just a part of life and that “everyone” had it so I shouldn’t beat myself up for it. Even as I type that it sounds crazy. 🙂 I think it was finally realizing that I was only harming myself both in the present, and the future, by continuing to live that way. It was painful to face up to those problems, but it was and is well worth it in the long run.

  3. I think too many people accept that debt is a normal thing. That’s why normal people are broke. When we accept the false premise that “it’s just a part of life”, then we lose.

    When you finally realize (like you did) that all your doing is robbing your future, then you can start changing the mindset and the habits that got you there in the first place.

    You are so right that it is definitely worth it in the long run.

    Thanks John!

  4. We’re not living pay cheque to pay cheque, but my better half was when we started dating. His problem was over spending. Once he started paying attention the problem was fixed. He’s still a spender, but the day he saw $1000 in his bank account he was a changed man. Getting out of the mindset that pay cheque to pay cheque is normal is life changing. Great post!

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