What to Do if You Often Run Out of Money Before Your Paycheck Comes
by Christy Bieber | Updated July 23, 2021 - First published on July 22, 2021
These steps could help you make your money last until payday and beyond.
Do you find yourself running out of money before you get your next paycheck? If you do, you aren't alone. Millions of Americans struggle to make their cash last between paydays.
Unfortunately, this can cause a host of problems. Not only is it stressful to know you don't have money in your bank account if you need it, but you could also find yourself forced to borrow when a pressing expense arises before your paycheck clears.
The good news is, there are some steps that might help you escape this difficult situation so you aren't left waiting with an empty bank account for your next deposit. Now, these won't necessarily work for everyone because there are some people whose wages are truly too low to come close to living on. But these tips could help in many situations.
Here's what they are.
1. Make and live on a budget
If you're running out of money in between paychecks, then it's a good idea to budget every dollar to see where your money is going. Start by tracking your spending to identify possible cuts -- and then try to make a budget that includes reasonable spending reductions to ensure your spending stays within your income.
If you find you can't cover all of the essentials with your income, then a budget isn't going to fix your problem by itself. But at least it helps you to identify how big your shortfall is so you can make other modifications.
If you're lucky, though, you'll find that it's possible to reduce your spending in a few key areas and end up with enough money to cover your bills. If that's the case, sticking to your budget will ensure your money lasts. You can work with an accountability buddy to help you do that, or try techniques such as putting the money you've budgeted into an envelope for each spending category and no longer spending on that category once the money in the envelope is gone.
2. Cut your fixed expenses
For many people, it's really hard to cut enough out of their budget to stay within their income -- and doing so may mean stripping all of the fun from your budget.
The reality is, if you budget $0 for entertainment, dining out, or clothing, you're just setting yourself up to fail at sticking to your budget. You need to be reasonable about what you can live with for the long term, including allowing for some fun.
But, there is an easier way to make budget cuts than reducing all of your discretionary expenditures. You can do it by cutting fixed expenses. Chances are good that your rent or mortgage, car payment, and a few other fixed expenses are your largest monthly bills. If you can find a way to lower one of them, you'll only have to make one big change once instead of giving up all your habits.
This could mean getting a less expensive car, moving to a cheaper place, or getting a roommate. Yes, all of these things would require a major adjustment. But once you moved or traded your vehicle down, you'd just have to stick with the status quo and would probably quickly get used to it (especially if you enjoy having the extra money you've freed up).
3. Look into government benefits
If your income is the problem, rather than your spending, there may be some government benefits you could take advantage of, such as:
- SNAP benefits
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- State, county, or local programs in your area
If you qualify for these or other government programs, they could make a big difference in helping you make your money last until payday.
4. Pick up a side hustle
Increasing your income could also make it easier to ensure you aren't running out of money too soon -- especially if you don't qualify for government benefits.
There are a huge number of side jobs available, many of which can be done on your schedule in your spare time. Even working a few extra hours a month might give you the breathing room you need.
5. Steer clear of borrowing
Finally, if you're already struggling to make your money last, do whatever you can to avoid borrowing money for anything. And if you've already borrowed, do what you can to pay back your current debt ASAP, even if that means making big sacrifices.
When money is already tight, the last thing you need to do is to send a good chunk of your hard-earned cash to credit card companies or other lenders. The interest you'll accrue on those accounts will only make purchases costlier. And committing your future paychecks to monthly payments will make it even more difficult to make the money stretch.
By living on a budget, taking advantage of government benefits, reducing expenses, and looking into side gig options, you can hopefully find a way to make things work without resorting to borrowing -- and you'll end up much better off financially because of your efforts.
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