Get Back on Your Feet

Living paycheck to paycheck can drive you to your wits end! If you have found yourself in this cycle, you may be looking for ways to break out and get ahead. The information in this article will point you in the right direction. To break free from living paycheck to paycheck, you have to either increase your income or decrease your spending, maybe both. Take a look at these suggestions and see which ones you can implement in your life to make some lasting changes.

Ways to increase your take-home income

If you can work overtime at your job, then try to do so without creating more problems than it is worth.
If overtime is not available then try to get a part-time job to get some extra cash flow.
If others are living in your household and are of age to work, then ask them to help out just until you get back on your feet.
Try looking for a better paying job; seek out career counseling or additional job training where you currently work. Adding value to any company usually means that your pay will increase from those added skills.
Take a look at your withholding information in regards to tax and make sure they reflect your current life situation. Try not to give Uncle Sam an interest-free loan.
See if you qualify and then apply for government benefits such as social security, welfare, food stamps, or unemployment benefits.
Try to make some extra money by cashing-in on your hobbies or talents such as babysitting, sewing, home repair, lawn maintenance, car repair, and selling craft items.
Look for ways to reduce any childcare expenses that you may have by forming a childcare circle with your friends and relatives.
Look at refinancing your automobile, home, or personal loans to reduce the payments. However, you must realize that this will likely extend your payments over a greater period of time and you might accrue more interest payments as a result.
Go shopping for the best rates you can get on your automobile and renters insurance. Make sure you look at your deductibles and see if you can raise any of them. Determine if there are coverage’s that provide little or no value that you can change or eliminate.
Try having a garage sale and get rid of some of that “stuff” you do not use.

Ways to reduce your spending

Grocery Shopping

Plan out a menu for the entire week and make a shopping list based on that menu and find coupons or in-store specials that are being offered that week.
Try grocery shopping after you eat. If you go shopping on an empty stomach, then you have a tendency to get caught up in all of those clever marketing ideas and buy stuff you do not need.
Try not to take the kids with you. You often impulse buy when the kiddos are saying “I want it – I want it.” Plus, it is a good way to lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.
Make as few trips to the store as possible.
Put yourself on a time limit when shopping.
If you have a freezer, then stock up on sale items when the opportunity exists.
Do not overbuy on items that can spoil easily because of a sale.
Make sure you find out when fruits and vegetables are in season, they are usually cheaper during that particular time.
Try to substitute store brands for name brands whenever possible.
Buy a copy of the Sunday Newspaper and look at the store ads and clip those coupons!!!
Take your lunch to school or work.
Give up or really cutback on eating out at restaurants.
Try alternating eating your meals with family members or friends.
Take a look at your diet; you do not have to eat meat at every meal. Try substituting meat with beans or some sort of stir-fry vegetables.
Look for reduced or quick to sell items at the grocery store; just make sure that you look at the expiration date.
Try not to look at all of those neat items right by the check-out counter. Chances are you really do not need a travel size package of facial tissues or another butane lighter.

Health Care

Make sure that you go to the doctor and the dentist regularly.

Preventative measures in healthcare usually will cost you less in the long run.
See if you can take generic drugs when a doctor prescribes you medicine.
Ask your doctor if he or she has any free samples; drug representatives are in their office on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Make sure you follow the directions on your medication. If you’re on a round of antibiotics, then make sure you take the entire prescription even if you start to feel better.
Be sure to follow the storage direction on your medication. Some medications can lose their effectiveness or shelf life if you store them in unfavorable conditions.
Look for services offered by the health department on such things as immunizations and medical treatment and prevention.
Do some leg work to see if the local walk-in clinic would be cheaper than the emergency room at the hospital.
Read your health insurance policy or get your HR department to help you understand restrictions and cost containment policies of the plan.
If you’re married, compare the costs of both yours and your spouse’s health insurance. Also make sure that you do not have unnecessary dual coverage that is costing you extra money and is not needed.
Get a second opinion when medical procedures are recommended and you’re not sure, just make sure that you send your tests to the second doctor. Your medical tests and information is your property and you have the right to have access to any of them.
Try to schedule surgeries or procedures during the week, since weekend hospital stays are more expensive.
Make sure you look at all billing in regards to doctor’s visits and hospital stays for errors. Mistakes happen so watch for specifics like overcharges, billing fees, duplicate charges, or charges for services that you did not receive.

Automotive Needs

Try carpooling or use public transportation. If you use public transportation then get a pass.

Plan your day’s activities so that you travel the least amount in distance and make the fewest number of trips possible.
See if your family can make it on only one vehicle. The savings on having one vehicle versus two vehicles can really add up, but you do have to give up some comfort.
Make sure that you maintain the up keep on your vehicle. Putting off those oil changes and other preventative maintenance duties can cost you dearly in the long run.
Check your tires every so often to make sure they are at their proper inflation.
Make sure that you shop around for the best insurance rates possible. Compare your deductible option on your payments to see if you can raise your deductible amount.
Purchase a toll tag if you commute down the toll-way on a daily basis.

Housing and Utility Consumption

Look at how much you spend on rent and consider spending less.

As a general rule, you should not pay more than 30% of your take home pay on rent.
Make sure that you have renter’s insurance on your house and contents. Try to increase your deductible to reduce your premium payments.
Try to learn how to do minor home repairs on your own. The local building supply stores have free classes that you can sign-up to take.
Take a look at your thermostat and set it at optimal levels during the hot and cold seasons. During the winter it is good to set your thermostat at 68 degrees and 78 degrees during the summer months. If you can do without air conditioning or heating during the spring and fall then turn it off.
Have your service provider conduct an audit if you own a home to identify areas of waste. Make the changes that will have the most affect on your wallet.
See if your utility provider has a budget plan for electricity or gas.
Have your appliances checked for efficiency; once again your utility company can conduct these tests.
Look at your phone service and see if you can live without all the bells and whistles.
Set a timer when you make long distance calls on your phone.
Have the phone company block 900 numbers on your phone service.
Wash dishes by hand or at least air dry your dishes; you can do this by turning off your dishwasher during the drying cycle and simply open the door.
If you have a fireplace in your home, then check to make sure that the damper is shut when not in use. That is a huge gaping hole with your cool air just running out.
Check your freezers for ice build up. An ice build up of one inch or more will cause your motor to run more often.
Make sure to change the lint trap on your dryer after each use. This will cut down on the time it takes for you to dry your clothes.
Turn off your water heater when you go on vacation or you will be away for more than a couple of days. Try to keep it set at 120 degrees.
Use dark curtains on your windows during the summer to keep out the sun.
Change or clean your air conditioning or heating filter on a regular basis.
Use as little energy as you can when cooking meals. If you can use the counter top instead of the oven then do so. If you can use the microwave instead of the counter top then do so. If you can use a toaster or hotplate instead of a countertop then do so.
Check for water leaks in toilets by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If you see the water in the bowl change colors, then you have a leak. Replace worn washers to prevent dripping faucets. Washers are only a few cents a piece.

Clothing Wear and Care

Shop at garage sales or consignment shops for children’s clothing that is quickly outgrown.
Try shopping at manufacturer’s outlets and thrift stores. You will be surprised at what you can find, and often certain items are quite fashionable.
Buy clothing that is washable and needs no ironing, or that is easy to care for. Try not to buy clothing that requires constant dry cleaning, unless it is necessary for your job.
Try removing wrinkles by hanging up your garments in the bathroom and using the steam from your shower to get out the wrinkles.
Take advantage of clothing going out of season or white sales.
Buy clothing that can be mixed and matched – color coordination.
Change out of work clothes at the end of the day so you can extend their use, it does no good to cook or clean house in your best work outfit.
Make sure you launder clothes according to the information on the tag; it is there for a reason. Try drying your clothes on a line; it will extend the life of your clothes.

Personal Habits and Ways to Cut Corners

Try to cut down on all of those vending snacks at work or school.
Try passing up that coffee shop on the way to work.
Shop for toiletry items at discount stores, it is often the same thing for less money.
See if a family member or friend knows how to cut or color hair.
Stop smoking, dipping, or drinking alcohol.
Try taking your old books or CDs to Half-Price Books or another discount book store.
Cancel that gym membership if not under contract. Go out and enjoy the outdoors for a walk.
Do things that do not cost a lot of money. Take a walk in the park or visit a free community festival, you can find out what is going on in your neck of the woods by checking your local newspaper or going online.
Give the gift of time instead of going out and purchasing flowers or chocolate.
Cancel subscriptions to magazines and book clubs.
Cancel all of those online clubs that you have joined if they charge you a monthly fee.
Try not watch television and fall prey to all of those infomercials selling you stuff that you really do not need.
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