5 Tips To Stretch That Paycheck

Do you always seem to be coming up short on cash? Maybe you barely squeeze by paying the bills every month. Well, this article is for you. We are going to look at the ways you can tweak your budget for the better.

We won't be looking to drastically reduce the amount you shell out to debtors in this article, which may include making some lifestyle changes. That is for a different article. We will be looking at ways in which you can optimize your cash-flow through smart, small changes.

  1. Pay essential bills such as rent/mortgage, electricity, etc. first! Not all bills are created equal. If your cable is turned off no big deal, if your car is repossessed that may be a problem. Sort through your bills and make a priority list. Housing should be at the top followed by utilities. I know this seems like common sense to some of you, but I think you would be surprised how many people ignore this.

  2. Plan ahead for other recurring expenses. You know you are going to need gasoline to scuttle around town everyday and you probably use about the same amount every week. So keep an eye on how much you regularly pay at the pump and take that into consideration when making your budget. If you have to eat out for lunch everyday then that is an expense and it should be worked into your plan accordingly. Rent a movie every weekend? Add it in.

  3. Pay off those credit cards and loans! Every month you spend paying the minimum payment on those credit card bills is like taking the cash and flushing is down the bank's toilet. You should have paid the minium balance to you credit card in step one as it is an essential bill, but only because you've already racked up the debt and want to keep the nice things you bought with it. Once you have budgeted the minimum payment, invest some of that saved money into the rest of that bill. You'll pay it off quicker and in some instances (like car loans) shrink the monthly payment. Once paid off you'll have the money you used to hand over to the bank every month in your pocket.

  4. Give yourself an allowance. After you have paid the bills, cut yourself a small check for personal purchases. Use this money any way you please. Buy any little knick-knack you wish. Just don't spend more than you budget for yourself. This will get you in the habit of thinking through your purchases and hopefully help you spend it more wisely in order to avoid going over.

  5. Save the rest or invest! Putting aside some money from every paycheck is preparing for the future. You never know when something bad will happen. A minor car accident may have you paying an unexpected deductible of $250 or more. Besides you never know when you might decide you want to make a really big purchase. It's best to have some extra cash on hand.

    If you'd rather not have your money sitting in a lonely account gathering dust, you can always invest in something worthwhile and make more money. That's another paycheck to apply these tips to!
Share your own tips in the comments below!

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