It really breaks my heart to see hard working people barely scrape by when they’ve done everything in their power to keep their expenses low and manage their money wisely. I was in this position briefly after getting divorced and have family members who are in this position now.
It is hard to know you’re doing everything “you’re supposed to be doing” but yet, you still can’t get ahead.
This post is for those of you who have already cut your expenses to down to the bare minimum, are earning minimum wage or close to it, and who just feel desperate and trapped.
These are the steps I took to stop living paycheck to paycheck and I think they can help you too.
Take a Second Job for Six Months
I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear but sadly desperate situations call for desperate measures.
If you’ve cut your expenses to the bare minimum then you have an income problem. The only thing that you can do is try to plug the income hole.
Go out and get a second job and keep it for at least six months. It doesn’t have to be a full time job, a part time job will do.
After getting divorced in 2012 I had to work two jobs for close to a year before I had saved up enough money to be financially stable. I worked full time as an insurance agent and part time as a bookkeeper. I worked at least 60 hours per week while taking care of my then two and three year old daughters.
It wasn’t fun. I was exhausted – mentally and physically. However, I kept it in my mind that if I could hold on long enough to save six months’ worth of expenses that it would all be worth it – and it was.
Build Up Your Emergency Fund
Now that you have that second job you need to throw every extra dime you have in a savings account. Seriously, DO NOT touch that money. Your hard work is your ticket to getting ahead.
I put every dollar I could into my savings account when I was working both jobs. This included bonuses, income tax refunds, and everything else I came across.
Building up your emergency fund will allow you some financial stability and will give you the power to work on your exit strategy.
Now Find a Better Income Earning Solution
While you’re working those long hours you need to be thinking of what you can do to earn a good income in the long term.
This can be either going back to college to get your degree, looking for a higher paying job, or starting your own side hustle or business.
I personally knew that I needed to find a way to make money online. There just aren’t many job options where I live.
I started building a freelance writing business which has now lead to many, many other opportunities. It has also allowed me to earn double what I was earning working two day jobs.
If you do decide to start your own side hustle or freelance business know that it will take you awhile to get the results that you want, but in the end it is completely worth it. The sooner you get started the sooner you’ll begin to reap the rewards.
Keep Your Expenses the Same and Keep Working
Once you’ve funded your emergency fund with six months’ worth of savings you should quit the second job and start working on the long term income solution.
Keep your confidence throughout all of this. Know that you are worth more and that with the birth of the internet there are literally hundreds of ways to make more money (no college degree needed.) It will take time and hard work but if you put forth the effort you can finally stop living paycheck to paycheck.