How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

October 15, 2020 Updated: October 15, 2020

I know how hard it is to succeed financially when you’re barely getting by and living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve been there. The truth is, there will always be factors that are out of your control. But it is possible to take control of your finances and change your life—even if it seems like the odds are stacked against you.

Here are four ways to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck so you can start winning with money:

Shift your mindset

Good money habits start in your mind. Right now, you’re probably in survival mode. But I want you to go from surviving to thriving. Make the decision that you won’t be a victim to your circumstances, and that you’ll do whatever it takes to handle money the right way. Start having a winning mindset!

Increase your income

I don’t know all the details of your current situation. But I do know if money is tight, and you’re already doing everything you can to live on less than you make, you need to earn more money. That’s just the simple, basic truth. This could mean applying for a higher-paying job, or picking up a side hustle or part-time job on weekends or at night. I understand it can be really hard to take on more work, but I promise your sacrifice will pay off.

Get out of debt (and stay out)

If you have any debt right now, you need to know that debt is stopping you from breaking free of the paycheck-to-paycheck life and reaching your financial goals. Just think about what you could do with the money you normally spend on those monthly payments. That’s why I want you to get out of debt as fast as possible, and never look back.

First, save up a $1,000 starter emergency fund so you can have a buffer while you’re paying off debt. You can do this by going through all your stuff and figuring out what you can sell, working some overtime, or finding ways to cut back on expenses until you have $1,000 stashed in a separate bank account. Then, it’s time to attack your debt using the debt snowball.

Do this by listing out all your debts from smallest to largest (no matter what their interest rates are). Tackle the smallest debt first with the extra money you’re bringing in until it’s completely paid off. Then, take the money that used to go toward that debt and roll it into paying off the next largest debt. Rinse and repeat until all your debt is gone!

Build a fully funded emergency fund

After you’re completely debt-free, the next step is to build a fully funded emergency fund with the money that used to go toward all your debt. This fund should have enough money to cover 3 to 6 months of expenses (housing, food, etc.). That way, an emergency becomes more of an inconvenience than a big disaster. You can rest easy knowing you’re prepared for the future.

Once you’ve finished these steps, you’ve officially broken the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and you’re free to start building serious wealth! Stick with it and don’t give up. I know you can get there. For more encouragement and wealth-building advice, check out my free 6 Tips for Building Wealth PDF on the resources page of my website!

Anthony ONeal is a financial expert, host of the popular online series “The Table” on his YouTube channel, and a best-selling author. Follow Anthony at AnthonyONeal.com and on Twitter @AnthonyONeal.