How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck


Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Tired of it? Looking for a new way to handle your money so that you aren’t anxiously waiting for your next direct deposit? Here are some simple steps to follow that will ensure you’ll stop living paycheck to paycheck – and never go back.

The Problem with Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Living paycheck to paycheck is a problem because emergencies happen in life. If you live on the brink of financial collapse, even the smallest of emergencies can knock you off balance and cause you to miss a mortgage payment, car payment, or utility bill. Just imagine what a large emergency might result in . . . complete destruction! Okay, you’ll probably survive, I’m just saying . . . .

Some of you out there might not see much of a problem with living paycheck to paycheck. You think it’d be nice if you could live otherwise, but you feel that someone in your circumstances doesn’t have a choice. I’m here to tell you that you do have a choice, and the best choice you could make is to follow the steps below.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Make a budget now!

“Oh no, not that!” Yes, that. It’s time you started a budget. Many people living paycheck to paycheck don’t have a budget in place, so that’s the first place to start.

Bob has written an excellent post on how to make a budget. In it, you’ll learn a couple budgeting methods that will put you on the right track. Pick the method that’s right for you, and follow it!

By the way, one of the most frequently asked questions people have when starting a budget is, “How many categories should I have?” No doubt, it’s difficult coming up with categories for every area of your budget. That’s why I created the Budget Category Brainstormer, a printable worksheet with over 80 categories and spaces for your own (plus a few budgeting tips). Check it out!

Spend this month’s income next month.

This is where you can truly stop living paycheck to paycheck. For those of you who are paid at least once a month (most of us), this is one of the best rules you could follow.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you get paid twice in January, $1,500 each time. So for the month of January, you have $3,000 of income. That $3,000 wouldn’t be spent until February, at which point you would allocate that money down your prioritized budgeting categories.

So how do you live in January if you’re going to spend January’s income in February? One of two ways:

  • You can use savings from another account to add $3,000 into your January budget
  • or you will have to have saved money in the months previous to January (by living on significantly less money than your income) to live on in January.

As you can see, spending this month’s income next month can take some time to get started. The next few ideas will give you some ways to create wiggle room in your budget.

Stop adding new debt.

One reason people live paycheck to paycheck is because they are spending more than they make or just as much as they make. Credit cards, personal loans, and other forms of debt add interest payments to whatever you’re buying, making it even more difficult for you to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Instead of accepting the risk of going into more debt with a high interest credit card, try a cash back debit card instead. You won’t go into debt with a debit card, and you can still earn lots of rewards!

Lower your expenses.

Marketing is at an all time high, and often compels us to sign up for services we either don’t need or are way too expensive. Find ways you can lower your expenses, and ask yourself probing questions such as:

  • How much do you pay for your cable bill? Why not try a low-cost Netflix subscription instead?
  • How much do you pay for your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry smartphone? Why not learn how to lower your cell phone bill?

There are many expenses you could reduce or eliminate if you put your mind to it!

Grab an extra job.

Despite media reports, there are plenty of jobs out there you can find if you know where to look. You could even find some legitimate work from home jobs!

The extra money will help you not live paycheck to paycheck and will take the burden of low-income off your shoulders. Find a job you love though, don’t settle! If you don’t love your work, it won’t last.

The sooner you make a budget, stop adding new debt, lower your expenses, and grab an extra job, the sooner you’ll be living with more than enough money at the end of the month. And don’t forget to get yourself to a point where you can spend this month’s income next month! (My wife and I have been doing this for years, and love it.)

Take heart that with a high level of determination, you can live with more money in the bank than you ever thought possible. You’ll fend off emergencies as if they’re small inconveniences, wonder why everyone else is eagerly anticipating payday, and keep a smile on your face throughout the month knowing you’re financial secure.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Leave a question below and we’ll try to help you with your situation.

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  1. Brenda Curry

    Thank you for your wonderful articles. My question is how should I deal with 3 charge offs on my credit report? As a Christian I feel like I should try to pay them off, but since I’m living pay check to pay check and there are so many other financial things I’m supposed to be doing – tithe more, put more in retirement, start a college fund for my child, etc., I don’t know what to do about the charge offs. They happened during a crisis when my husband was off work for surgery. I have started selling Christian books on Amazon but that is bringing in very little money, but I guess it’s a start as an extra job. My husband and I both work full-time now.

    Any suggestions about this would be greatly appreciated. Have a blessed day!

    P.S. Many times I notice typing errors in Christian PF’s articles and other websites. Are there internet jobs out there for proofreaders?

    • John Frainee


      Thanks for your question. If the companies you owed are no longer requesting payment, you are not obligated to pay them. However, if you feel it is important for you to do so on a spiritual level, I would.

      My suggestion is to create a prioritized list of goals (tithe more, put more into retirement, pay off charge offs, etc.) and knock out those goals one at a time.

      Yes, there are many opportunities online to proofread articles! I suggest typing “proofreading jobs” into Google and seeing what you can find. As you can see from our last comment, I’m not always the best at proofreading but I catch the majority of errors submitted by writers. Feel free to leave a comment if you see an error and we’ll correct it over here at ChristianPF.

      Thanks Brenda!

  2. gail

    Here’s another thought for saving money. Tithe first, save second. Then spend.

    • John Frainee

      Gail, I agree, tithing should always come first. Thanks for helping me clarify my position, and for the grammar correction! Fixed and noted.

  3. Betty Baez

    I never thought of it that way spending this months income next month, thank you for the tips!

  4. David Hunter

    Great article!

    Unfotunately, a lot of people (like my parents) feel the need to spend every penny because they feel they can die tomorrow. My parents have many many years of life left, yet I can never get them to open their minds and make a budget and save for tomorrow.

  5. Carl Lassegue

    The most important thing in my opinion (after tithing) is to stop adding new debt. Many people do not realize the amount of interest they end up paying by the time they pay off their debt.

  6. monic

    All these articles make sense, but what if your spouse has habits or ideas totally different from yours. We seem to never agree espesially when finances are mentioned.

  7. Willy

    My husband and I have been loosely (ive slacked off record keeping) living on a zero-based, 10/10/80 budget. We have an emergency fund and in the processor paying off our car in a couple of months. The idea of using this month’s income for next month is intriguing.

    • John Frainee

      Thanks Willy! It sure helps us.

  8. Willy

    So, the money just sits in the checking account (categorized) until the following month? Is it possible for you to just give a little more insight on how that would work? Thanks!

    • John Frainee

      Yes Willy, that is certainly one option – to have the money sit in the checking account until the next month. Alternatively, you could keep a portion of the money in a high-yield savings account to earn a little interest – but be careful here, you don’t want to forget to move money occasionally to avoid an overdraft! I hope that helps! God bless.

  9. Willy

    Thought I asked a question but don’t see it,Mao I will try again…lol

    Seriously need clarification on living this month on next month’s income. Sorry, I’m a little dense and can’t seem to wrap my head around it. So I would withdraw x amount of dollars from savings and divvy it up in categories and then????
    Will you answere her or via email? Thanks!

    • Willy

      First, i apologize for all the spelling errors.. trying to type fast on ipad not working to all for me. Second, thanks for your answer above. So just Ignore my follow up post. Just getting used to comments,

      Ok, so let me get this straight…I withdraw from savings the x amount of money needed to cover bills, add that to my current income and let It sit in checking account or move to another savings account?

      There are some categories I fund continually for months , building the balance, until a bill comes in, ie auto insurance., taxes. Would that be an example of that? I apologize for my denseness…thanks. I

  10. Karl

    Pal how can you live on January’s income in Feb. when you re already living pay checque to pay cheque, doesn’t make sense.

    Most people if they had savings they wouldn’t be living pay cheque to pay cheque

    • John Frainee

      Karl, thanks for your question. You have to save up money slowly but surely, until you have enough savings to live on January’s income in February. You either have to get income up or expenses down to do this. God bless you, and we wish you the very best!

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