Living paycheck to paycheck often makes it difficult to get ahead financially. While it may seem like there is little wiggle room in your finances, there are ways to allow yourself to get one month ahead.
Learning how to budget effectively with a variable income is essential, as this provides you with more control over your finances. Regardless of how much you make per month, once you create a maintainable budget you can find ways to get ahead of the curve.
Adding an extra source of income is helpful, as this supplements the paycheck you receive from your primary employer. Similarly, the service provided by cash-back apps such as Ebates can help you collect additional funds. When you utilize cash-back services, you are gaining a few extra dollars in your wallet each week for your expenses. Follow this guide to find the best ways of getting one month ahead without a large income.
Budgeting is a challenge for people who do not earn a consistent amount each week. If the paycheck from your hourly or freelance job often fluctuates, you may struggle to manage your finances from month to month.
Learning how to budget effectively with a fluctuating paycheck is essential if you want to save up over the course of the next month. To achieve this goal, make a running list of the required payments you make each month. This includes:
Once you know how much you pay toward each bill, total the amount to determine how much you need to pay out of your check each month. For example, if your rent payment is $750, your grocery bill is $250, your utilities are $175 and your phone bill is $65, you are required to make approximately $1,240 at a minimum to afford your monthly expenses. This equates to $310 per week or $620 every two weeks if you are paid twice a month.
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Once you understand how much you need to make each week for your bare minimum expenses, you can begin to play around with your budget. By having a clear idea of how much you are spending each month, you can brainstorm ways to lower these expenses. For example, consider switching to a different phone plan, or transferring the debt on your current credit card to a company offering a lower interest rate. In doing so, you are taking control of your bills in order to avoid paying more than you need to.
If you have a budget but you want to build up your savings account, look for opportunities for added income. This can be a freelancing gig where you are work a certain amount per month, or a job where you take a few shifts occasionally when you have the time to do so.
For example, babysitting on occasion provides you with added income each month, but does not require the same level of commitment as a second job. Conversely, if you have a set schedule for your primary job and want to seek consistent income to supplement this position, look for a part-time job with designated hours. This allows you to make an extra hundred dollars or more per month which helps you get ahead in the long run.
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Utilize your skillset to find freelance opportunities in fields where you have existing knowledge. If you have strong typing skills, look for transcription opportunities each month and use the money earned from this gig to replenish your savings account. The money you earn through an added employment opportunity can be put directly toward your savings instead of being used to cover your regular expenses.
Grocery shopping is a necessary expense that often takes up a large portion of your budget each month. To improve your financial situation without limiting your grocery allowance, try downloading a cash-back app for your mobile phone. Many apps, such as Ebates and Ibotta, provide you with money for each purchase you make through the app or by uploading the required information once a purchase has been made.
With Ibotta, you upload the receipt from a recent grocery store purchase and select the items you bought that are eligible for a small cash refund. You may only make a few dollars per item, but you can cash out your savings once you have reached a total of $20. You can then opt to have this balance paid to your bank account, or choose to transfer the balance to a gift card for your favorite grocery store. This allows you to cut down on the total of your next shopping trip.
With Ebates, you gain a certain percentage back for each purchase you make through online retailers. To do so, you must make your purchase using the links provided on the Ebates website. Ebates assigns a unique link to each retailer that works with this cash-back service. For example, if you need to order a new coffeemaker on Amazon, click through the Amazon link provided on Ebates to ensure you are receiving a percentage back on this purchase.
Once the order is completed through the retailer of your choosing, Ebates updates your account and sends a paper check in the mail with your cash-back amount. Depending on how much you spend at an online retailer, this may be a few dollars, or it can add up to a larger sum if you are using Ebates to make expensive purchases.
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