How to Make Your Paychecks Last

I felt like taking a break today, because sometimes we just need a break! I’m republishing a post from one of the early days of Pelican on Money because it didn’t get much attention. We all need some attention right? :)
expensive coffee

Saving Tip: ditch the coffee shops

We all have those moments when we struggle to make our money last from one payday to another.   Most of us have even had times when our money did not last and we had to scramble to borrow money or to take cash out of a dwindling bank account.  I have found some tips to make money last from one payday to another.

Visualize Your Expenses on Paper

The first thing you need to do is to write down all your monthly bills.  Take a careful look at your pay periods and the date your bills are due.  This will make it possible for you to decide which bills will be paid out of which paychecks.   Pay the bills that are going to be paid out of your paycheck that week before you do anything else.  Then, make certain there are no extra bills that month.  For example, is your car due for maintenance work or do you have any quarterly or semi-annual bills due?  Make those payments next.  Your money will stretch farther if you are not worrying about late fees and overdrafts from the bank.

Look for Coupon Deals

My two other big expenses each month are groceries and gas.  I opt to buy groceries, other than items like milk and bread, once per month.  At the beginning of each month, look through your freezer, fridge and cupboards to make a list of foods that you need.   I am not a coupon diva and you don’t have to be either.  You should, however, clip coupons that catch your eye each week.

Compare your grocery list with your coupons to see if you can save any cash.  When purchasing items at the store, watch for manufacturer coupons that are attached to products you buy.  I sometimes find last minute deals on foods I need this way.  You can also save money by not purchasing foods you do not need and that are not on your list.

Grocery shopping tip: use coupons

Drive Efficiently

When it comes to gas prices, everyone needs some ways to save.  I formed a car pool at work so that we can all take turns on driving while also saving some gas.  If you ask around at your job, I am sure you will find people who would be interested in doing the same.  I do my grocery shopping and errands the same day.  This cuts down on wasteful trips using up too much gas.  I try to plan the best route for my errands.  If I am tempted to run somewhere other than work during the week, I take some time to think:  “Is this trip to town I am going to take really necessary or can it wait?”  Usually, it can wait.

carpool

Gas saving tip: Form a carpool to get to work

Make It At Home

I no longer purchase flavored waters or coffees during the week.  You’d be surprised at how much money you can waste at the coffee shop.  Prepare a drink at home and put it in a container that will keep your drink hot or cold.  It is much cheaper to make your own coffee, iced tea or flavored water.  I also pack my lunch which allows me to control exactly how much I spend, rather thing having to pay whatever the cafeteria or local restaurant charges.

Earn Shopping Rewards

These few simple tips have helped me to stretch my money more every pay week.  I also use store shopping cards to earn shopping rewards and gas rewards points.  I always have my eyes open for coupons, unexpected sales and other ways to save some cash.  Every little bit you save, is more money you have left over at the end of the week and less worries about making your paycheck last.

Trim Your List of Bills One by One

To go the extra mile, list your bills on a piece of paper including the amounts you are paying every month, then ask yourself some basic questions: Can I live without this? Do I really have to have this? Go down the list item by item and write down an alternative, no matter how unattractive it sounds. I made such a list for my personal bills and eliminated several entirely: transportation (carpool), got rid of the land line entirely, reduced the cable bill to basics (stick to netflix and other alternatives), rented a cheaper apartment and paid down all of my credit cards.

Reduce your bills

Budget: list your bills and go through them 1 by 1.

How do you make your paychecks last?

15 Comments

  1. I think you are better off not buying frozen food as I discovered frozen / processed food to be much more expensive than fresh produce (not to mention less nutritious)

    • You’re right. I’ve done the math on frozen food and fresh food at my local farmer’s market and fresh food comes out on top by quite a bit of money. The key is to try to think of recipes that are tasty and use fewer ingredients. Crockpots are amazing at helping with that!

  2. Gotta love the re-post! I use those last two tips quite often. I LOVE getting paid to buy stuff I was going to buy anyways with rewards programs. And I try to cut my bills one by one as much as possible. It’s a never ending process of growing the income and cutting back the expenses.

    • Yeah, the post was written before PoM started being frequented by people. It really is a good post and I wanted it to get more attention so.. voila!

  3. Very nice post Veronica. You’ve outlined some very good ways to save money. You mentioned making coffee and drinks at home and taking it with you. I need to start doing that a lot more than I do. I find myself going to the coffee shop every day and spending five dollars for my coffee fix. After reading your post, I look back and realize that I’m spending a ton of money buying coffee, which I could be saving. Thank you for your insight.

    • Thanks Amy! There are plenty of ways to be frugal, I guess in the end it just comes down to what you can live without and what you must absolutely have. Being frugal is not the only answer to living within your means though, sometimes all it takes is just a bit more income to enjoy the finer things in life.

    • Exactly. We often find ourselves forgetting to buy a thing or 2 on the grocery list and wanting to drive back to the store to get it. Then I think… if we just cut back this trip and get creative with our dinner, perhaps we can just delay it for later and save some gas + wear and tear on car :)

  4. I think visualizing your income/expenses on paper is key. Until I started keeping a “budget book” where I listed my income, my bills, my expenses, etc, I had no luck keeping a budget. Seeing on paper made it much more concrete for me because I could check things off or cross them out when I paid them and I could always see how much was left.
    CF recently posted..Our early retirement planMy Profile

    • I was the same way. Prior to creating a budget I was so strong-headed, thinking oh… I can just tell where my money is going without having to check anything. Little did I know how much we were spending on food until I began tracking it in a spreadsheet!

  5. Pingback: Coming Clean about Payday Loans - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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