Getting a paycheck is always exciting, it’s money you have worked towards all week. However, if you’re not careful with managing that hard-earned money, you can accumulate interest and debt faster than you can pay it off, which can hinder long term financial goals. But fear not, there are different ways of making your paycheck work as hard as you.
Build a Budget
The first way to stretch out your paycheck is to know where your money is going and taking control of how much you spend. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a good plan and can lead to unnecessary stress. Tracking your expenses each month and setting a limit for how much you spend each week are great ways to start understanding what to budget for.
Writing a list of monthly and weekly expenses helps you know where your money is going and assists with identifying areas where you can be saving instead of spending. Some people map out their expenses and categorize them in order to help with what is a necessary bill while locating unaffordable items. Although it can be difficult to stick to your budget, having one can help you reach a financial goal or pay off debt faster.
Take Care of Business
As an adult, you need to be responsible with your money. That being said, you should be using money from each paycheck to build up your financial stability. Some of the things that you should be budgeting for are:
- Emergency Fund: Having an emergency fund is useful for unexpected expenses when they happen out of the blue. You can’t predict when your car is going to break down or if you lose your job suddenly. This safety net will help you avoid a free fall into more debt.
- Savings: Aside from an emergency fund, you should also set aside money for a savings account. View saving money as a stepping stone towards a larger goal such as buying a home. Once it comes time to start searching for a home, check out online listings to help determine what a typical sales price is. This will help you learn more about what you should be saving.
- Paying off Debt: Finally, you should be paying off student debt with a portion of your paycheck. All loans accumulate interest in addition to your current principal balance. Paying off loans sooner means spending less money over time on unnecessary debt. You can repay debt faster by picking up a side job, funneling extra money towards repayment, and refinancing loans.
Think About Unnecessary Expenses
One black hole for paycheck money is spending money on inessential items. A spending limit is part of a good budget, and that’s why it deserves to be called out. Impulse purchases like coffee and new clothes add up quickly, and it’s something you don’t want to suck up your money.
However, you can treat yourself on occasion— no one is perfect! Paying in cash or prepaid cards are a great way to set limits for “want” items or rewards. Couponing and buying off-brand products are other methods to still get things that you want while staying in the green.
Manage Credit Cards Wisely
Credit cards are another area where interest can accumulate quickly and pull more money from your paycheck towards another institution. If you do need a credit card, make sure to shop around. Look at the pros and cons of each company and check out their cash back and reward programs.
If you do use a credit card, set a limit for yourself. Make sure you budget for purchases on your card and have a plan to pay your card in full each month. Remember late fees and interest are the enemies.
Paychecks are great and you should make them work as hard as you do. By following the tips above, you can work towards personal finance goals and great management practices!