Living paycheck to paycheck can be scary and frustrating, but it can also teach many lessons. When you're living paycheck to paycheck, there's just enough in your budget to cover essentials, such as food, housing, utilities, etc. And while it's not the best situation to be in, you're probably thankful for what you have. Here are seven lessons you learn while living paycheck to paycheck.
If you're living paycheck to paycheck, you may not have extra money for vacations, dining out and shopping. And if you have a credit card, you might be tempted to use plastic to enjoy life. But if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can't afford extra monthly expenses. And ringing up a credit card creates another monthly bill, which can complicate your personal finances.
Likewise, living paycheck to paycheck helps you realize you don't need everything. We live in a materialistic world. People are always trying to upgrade and have the biggest of everything. But when you don't have money to spend, you might be forced to live with less, or be content with what you have. Maybe you can't take luxurious vacations, but you make do with what you have, even if it means staycations or only overnight getaways.
On the weekends, some people feel they have to go out Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday night. It might be a fun lifestyle, but it's also an expensive lifestyle. And if you're living paycheck to paycheck, you can't afford to spend too much on entertainment. This doesn't mean you can't have fun, but you'll need to entertain yourself for free. Host potlucks with friends, game nights or movie nights.
After reevaluating your finances, you may discover a few financial bad habits. Maybe you eat out every day for lunch, grab coffee on the way to work or have impulse buys. These habits can drain your disposable income, which basically contributes to living paycheck to paycheck. But as you mature financially, you'll start to make wiser decisions and realize that your habits can keep you stuck in the same place.
If you're pinching pennies and watching how you spend every dollar, you'll need to choose your friends wisely. Some people will encourage a frugal mindset, but others might encourage spending. Living paycheck to paycheck requires sticking with a strict budget. Unfortunately, you can't afford to be in close association with people who encourage unwise spending habits.
If you don't have a lot of disposable income, you might feel – what's the point in saving money? But even if you can't put aside 10% of your paycheck, some savings is better than none. Maybe you're only able to save $20 a paycheck, but that's okay. It'll add up and provide the cushion you need to handle an emergency.
Home repairs, a car repair or another unexpected bill can hit your bank account hard. And if you're already living paycheck to paycheck, you may not have cash to meet these expenses. But a side hustle can help you drum up extra cash – quickly. Living paycheck to paycheck is annoying, but it also teaches the importance of a hustle to get through tough times. It might mean working longer hours, getting a part-time job or doing odd jobs around the neighborhood.
There's no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed if you're living paycheck to paycheck. The truth is, many people are in similar situations, regardless of their educational background or type of work. What other lessons can we learn from living paycheck to paycheck?
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