Living Paycheck to Paycheck? Here's How To Stop!

I imagine that most of us have been in this position at some point in our lives:  figuring out exactly how many bills to pay so that you can still eat until the next paycheck comes in.  Living paycheck to paycheck is stressful, but if you are overburdened with expenses, it can be hard to get out of the cycle.  What’s a person to do?  NCN at No Credit Needed has written an really excellent article, 10 Steps to Escaping The Paycheck to Paycheck Cycle.  I absolutely love this direct and uncomplicated list of doable steps.  He didn’t come up with fancy plans and charts (though you know I love a good chart!), but rather made it plain and simple.  If you are currently counting the days between now and the next payday so that you can figure out when you can afford to pay your bills, I know that you will benefit from this article.  Check it out!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Honora

    Kate, excellent article. I appreciate the advise on the emergency fund and also living below my means. There are things we can do without. Excellent info and timely this holiday season as we prepare for the new year. One thing I’ve tried this year is to limit the new clothes I buy. I simply walk away from the clothes racks and say “I don’t need it.”

  • Ray Siracusa

    I cannot even live pay check to pay check. I have to borrow for my monthly bills every month. If you can help me without taking more money out of the money that i do not have then please do so.

  • Emery

    Ray. If you have car payments, try selling a vehicle or two and buy a cheap beater car until you can get ahead. Car payments are a budget killer. List out all of your expenses and make sure you know exactly where each dollar goes. Provide for you essentials first then start to pay down debt. Look at your income and see if there is any way you can raise it. Take a part time job long enough to pay off some or all of your debt. It’s easy to say but hard to do, but you have to stop spending.

  • Miguel Villot

    living paycheck to paycheck having to borrow to pay my bill

  • lynn

    If you are living on practically nothing, and I have certainly been there many more times than I’ll admit, it’s time to add God in your finances. Giving God 10% of your income is like stepping off of a cliff. You just don’t think you can afford to do it. You’ve tried everything else, so you finally bite your lip and do it. No, you don’t win the lottery or maybe even get a payraise, but things happen. I can’t explain it, but your 90% just goes much further than your 100% did. I’ve done this faithfull for 30 years and haven’t gone without a meal (except for dieting) or without a roof over my head. Budgets and planing do work, that’s for sure. But when the bottom falls out, you land on your feet every time with God. There are plenty of charities and churches and places of worship that help people and appreciate your help.

  • danny

    USAA just decided to raise their credit card interest rates for no good reason other than “due to a challenging economic environment”. It all boils down to simply sticking it to the hard working military people like everyone else. I am sick and tired of it already. Don’t join USAA!!!

  • Ray – the budget busters for many families are the house payment and car payment. If those two are too high in comparison to income, you will run into problems.
    Now for the everyday expenses, groceries are the easiest and quickest return on investment when you try to cut back. If you’ve got access to military commissary, you’ve got a great benefit. Use it. Use coupons in addition to your discounts.
    Second option to look into – Angel Food Ministries at This is a low cost food purchase program available to anyone of any income level – check the web site for a delivery location near you.
    Then set your google search for “frugal living” or “frugal blog” and you’ll find lots of tips that bloggers like NCN and me have posted.

  • danny

    USAA just decided to raise their credit card interest rates for no good reason other than “due to a challenging economic environment”. It all boils down to simply sticking it to the hard working military people like everyone else. I am sick and tired of it already. Don’t join USAA!!!

  • PCW

    I honestly don’t know how anyone in the military could struggle that much. I met my husband after he was out of the Army, but he said that it was easy to save money while he was in. He said that he saw people with mountains of debt, and yet he had absolutely none. No credit cards, no loans, no car payments, nothing. He said that your take home pay isn’t that much, but since the military covers your housing, your medical care, etc., that you shouldn’t really have a lot of bills unless you just want them. I think that’s the problem. Truthfully, people bring most of their bills upon themselves – cars they can’t afford, houses they can’t afford, luxuries that they mindless pull out their credit cards for. People swim out to the deep end and then panic when they realize the water’s over their head. Common sense should have kept them in the shallow end where they belonged. I came from a poor family of nine children. My parents worked VERY hard to support us and NEVER took welfare or assistance of any kind. They also didn’t use credit cards, because my father just didn’t believe in them. My mother was a budgeting queen and I learned all my “money sense” from her. It’s funny, we really were so poor, but we never went without. My mother is a very matter-of-fact woman, and she says things like, “If these people would just get their heads on straight, they wouldn’t be in the messes that they’re in.” I couldn’t agree more.

  • BruceB

    I couldn’t agree more with the comment from PCW. There is absolutely no reason that people in the military should be struggling. The salaries have increased immensely in the past ten years. If they can’t make it in the military how are they going to make it when they get out-retire? The big problem is alot of personnel in the military do not know how to manage their money. Their is absolutly no reason for people in the military to be on welfare. Their is more greed than need when personnel in the military get heavy in debt.

  • PCW and BruceB: Whle I agree with you in theory, I’m very uncomfortable making generalizations about people I don’t know. I have seen situations where military members are in financial trouble without overspending, buying flashy cars or otherwise living large. While military pay has increased dramatically, military pay is still not high. Housing allowances and Tricare can drastically lower a service members costs, but that doesn’t always mean that housing and medical are completely free. In addition, there are unique costs to a military lifestyle – moving every few years, dealing with deployments, usually living nowhere near family and friends. It sounds like you both have some good thoughts about spending responsibly – would you will be willing to share your suggestions with our readers? That way, you could help struggling military members learn some new skills and improve their own situation.

  • joexnola

    It is hard just surviving eating, let alone paying mortgage, child support, credit cards and house hold bills, gas, water, electric. I’m in the negitive monthly. I cannot even see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do not even have enough cash to put any into savings. I’m feefing four mouths and at a loss as to what to do.

  • Provide everyone, who is sincere about getting control of their finances, an exell spreadsheet. Creating 3 would be necessary. The first is for the (1)IDEAL budget, the second is for the (2)ASSUMED budget (complete off the top of your head and guess at how much you think you spend), and the third will be the (3)ACTUAL budget. The last budget will be formulated after a month of collecting the actual receipt of EACH AND EVERY purchase you make. At the end of the month, count the money from the receipts to get the REAL dollar amount (3 months is actually needed to get a REAL sense of your monthly expenditures). You need the ASSUMED budget to compare to the actual so that you can see how much you underestimate your spending. Any retirement, investment, debt elimination, debt stacking, envelope spending strategy must first begin with a REALISTIC budget that you can stick to. Time waits for NOMAN. Get started now. It’s too late only when you are dead. Contact me for a copy of an excellent budget spreadsheet…PEACE2MYPEEPS

  • I am very interested in a sugar-free living. I currently have a sweet-tooth, and am finding it difficult to find meal plans, what to eat for snacks, etc. While diabetes is not something that runs in my family, I am still concerned and would like to be smart and take a proactive approach to my health. Any tips or advice?

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