How to Get One Month Ahead on Bills & Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Today, I will be talking about how to stop living paycheck to paycheck, and get one month ahead on your bills.

What I mean by living one month ahead is using December's money to pay January's bills. Think about the stress that would be gone from not living in that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, not having to wait until payday to pay a bill, or not having to wait till payday to donate to something.

Once I broke that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, I never returned to it. I haven't lived paycheck to paycheck in years, and it feels good, especially compared to that weight on your shoulders when you are in that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

1. Focus on your why

The first thing to do is focus on your why. Dig deep. Why do you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? Why do you want to get your money in order?

That's what is going to motivate you to do it. That will encourage you when times are tough, when you don't want to, when you want to go out to eat, or you just want to spend money.

Keep that focus on why you're doing what you're doing. It's so, so important.

Emergency fund savings tracker

1. Have an emergency fund

Next is to have a solid emergency fund. Whether you're building up to one month's worth of expenses or $1,000 or whatever you feel comfortable with.

This is going to help to take the stress out of emergencies. Financial emergencies are stressful enough, but having an emergency fund relieves financial stress. It also helps to prevent you from going into debt. We're not counting a credit card as an emergency fund. 

It's got to be cash so that you're not back to that paycheck-to-paycheck cycle when those emergencies happen. You can deal with the situation and then rebuild your emergency fund after you've dealt with it. 

Keep your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account to earn interest on it.

2. Have a zero-based budget

Next is to have a zero-based budget. Having a budget is going to help to keep you accountable to yourself. It's also going to keep you in control of your money.

If you are a pen and pencil person, check out this easy-to-use budget printable; if you are an excel person, check out this excel budget template with pre-populated formulas.

Track how much money you have coming in and your expenses, then how you will allocate your money: how much you're going to allocate to groceries, how much to your debt, how much to clothing, and entertainment, and how much to your savings. Doing a spending analysis can help you figure out how much to budget for each category.

Eating out or buying clothing is okay if you have that money allocated. You have the freedom. That's what a budget does. It helps keep you accountable and is a great way to track your progress. 

Revisit your budget every few days to see if you need to cut back a little to stay on track.

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck

3. Earn extra money

Next is to come up with some extra cash. Come up with a side hustle, an additional way to make some extra money to put towards your goals and get one month ahead on your bills. That is our goal here. That extra money can come from a side hustle or selling some stuff. 

Maybe try upcycling, which is finding things you can buy cheaply and fix up, like furniture, and then sell it. That's a great way to make some extra cash. 

Pick up some overtime, ask for a raise, get a better-paying job, or find other ways to increase your income

I don't believe that we should rely only on our nine to five job, only having that one income stream. Our family has seven different streams of income. It is so important to diversify your income streams in case something happens. Start something as a hobby, then go to a side hustle. 

4. Automate your savings 

Next is to automate your savings. We automatically have our taxes taken out of our paycheck, our insurance taken out of our paycheck, or maybe a 401K or HSA savings. We don't think twice about them. 

Automate your savings. Have your savings taken out of your checking account every week, every month, every single time you get paid, and just have it automatically done. Treat it just like a bill coming out where it's automatically.

How to get one month ahead on bills

5. Look at fixed expenses

Next is to look at your fixed expenses. What are your fixed expenses that you can cut back a little bit, that you can call and negotiate?

What do you need to do? Maybe you live by yourself. Perhaps it's time to get a roommate, move in with a roommate, or downsize your house. Look at your fixed expenses and see what you need to cut. 

6. Ask for accountability 

Next is to ask for accountability. Just like going to the gym, just like wanting to get in shape, you ask for accountability. Find someone that's going to keep you accountable and call you out when you need to be called out. Someone who can ask why you are spending $200 more a month on groceries. Sometimes you need that tough love. Sometimes you need that. 

7. Write down your goals

Next, write down your goals. Write down what you want to do, how much you want to have in savings, and when you want to be debt free. Write down how much you want to have, your net worth, and how many investments you want to have, how much you want in your portfolio, and how many properties you want to have. 

What are your goals? Write them down. Don't have a scarcity mindset. If you're dreaming big, hanging out with people with big dreams, it's going to happen. 

8. Keep learning

Never stop learning. There is always time for education. Have something that will keep you educated and can keep you learning. Watch videos that keep you motivated, that keep you learning even if you have to watch this video repeatedly. If you want to find side hustles that you can do from home, you only need an internet connection to do research.

How to get one month ahead on bills

You can stop living paycheck to paycheck. Get into the proper mindset, surround yourself with like-minded people, and discipline yourself financially. You'll reach your goals in no time. 

More ways to save!

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Kelly Anne Smith | Freedom In A Budget
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