Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

Filed in Budgeting, Money, Spending by on January 14, 2013 5 Comments

When things get rough...Well, here’s your official invitation to join the “Broke-Ass Mo’Fo’s club.”

‘Cause we are.

(And if you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, pray tell what in the hell you’re doing so we can do it, too.)

I bet half, if not more, of all the people you know are secretly living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I mean, it’s not something that most people want to shout from the roof tops. *I* just tend to be so open because I am a blabber mouth a blogger and TELLING is what I do, in hopes of opening the lines of communication.

People are so secretive about their money: how much they make, how much they owe, how much they’re saving (or NOT saving)–and the list of secrets go on. And it’s those secrets that perpetuate the lies that we tell ourselves about our money and our financial situation.

So let’s have an honest discussion about money, or lack thereof.

Because this living paycheck-to-paycheck cycle sucks. And it’s time to do something about it.

Once Upon a Time…

…we were doing damn good: we had money in the bank (ahhh….security), we had an affordable small 2-bedroom condo, and we had no kids (no daycare costs, which is a freakin’ mortgage!). We also had no car payments because we’d kept our cars after paying them off.

Life was easy.

But somewhere along the way……..we had a baby…….and then another………and we began needing wanting more space……..and we bought a 4-BR single-family home………and then baby #3 popped out (SURPRISE!)…….and…..and…..and….and…..

…..aaaaand you get the point.

My 3 Sons

My 3 beautiful sons!

Life became more complicated, and expensive.

  • Our “new” 1973 single-family home needed tons of repairs and updates:  cha-ching!
  • We had 2 kids in daycare at the same time (still do): double cha-ching!!

And now here we are, living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Why People Live Paycheck to Paycheck

If your expenses are greater than your income, you’re in trouble. When you begin shelling out more than what’s pouring in, it’s time to change it.

Some of these expenses, regardless of whether they’re fixed expenses, like mortgage or life insurance, or variable expenses, such as groceries or gas, you can cut back.

You can even make more money.

But even if you make more, and cut back, the heart of the matter is to manage it better.

You’ve got to set a realistic budget.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever budgeted my money. Budgets have always made me feel restricted. Sort of like dieting. When you’re on a diet, all you can think about is chocolate cake. Or bottles of wine. And you hate feeling like you can’t just splurge when you want to.

I’ve always paid my fixed expenses, and then just lived off the rest. The problem is that I would use some of that “what’s left over” pot of money for, say, cans of paint to redecorate my house (which is fine), but come the end of the pay period, I’d be struggling to pull together enough money for a small trip to the grocery store for that night’s dinner.

It’s not a problem spending money on things like cans of paint, or whatever hobby or fun “latte factor” you’ve got going on, but when you’re not budgeting for it, you totally throw yourself off, and then you find yourself living paycheck-to-paycheck.

So here is what I am doing to break this cycle:

1. Track my spending to get a realistic idea of what I spend money on. I’ve been tracking forever, but now I’m actually USING the data.

2. Create a “CURRENT” budget using the average of those tracked expenses in all the categories that I spend. I did this last week and was SHOCKED to see that I was in the hole several hundred dollars and was operating at a LOSS.

3. List ways that I can make more money, such as these 20 Ways to Make More Money and Cut Expenses.

4. List ways I can cut expenses.

5. Get off my ass and actually make that extra money and be courageous to cut costs! It’s easier said than done!

6. Create a new budget based my new income and lower expenses.

7. DISCIPLINE myself! Budgets won’t work if I won’t stick with them.


So I want to know, are you living paycheck to paycheck, too?

And if so, when did you first start noticing the squeeze?

And what are you doing to correct this vicious cycle?


NOTE: If this post has resonated with you, and you’d like to add to this discussion, I would love to hear from you! Please consider leaving a comment 🙂 Or find me on Facebook and say “hi!”


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About the Author ()

Serena Appiah is a wife and mom to 3 boys in the Washington, DC metro area who enjoys writing about family, finances, and raising children.

Comments (5)

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  1. Hi administrator, Your posts are always a great source of information.

  2. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!

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