Fewer Americans Are Living Paycheck-To-Paycheck
When it comes to personal finances, many Americans admit that one of their biggest problems is failing to save money. This is largely because millions of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and are often left with little money to put into savings or pay down significant portions of their debt.
However, a new CareerBuilder study reveals that the number of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck has declined in recent years, falling to 40 percent in 2012 from 42 percent in 2011. In addition, the percentage of Americans currently waiting for their next payday to roll around so they can pay their bills has dropped to a pre-recession low. In 2008, roughly 46 percent of Americans lived paycheck-to-paycheck.
"Making ends meet remains a challenge for millions of households, but the situation has improved for workers who've grown more confident with their job security or who've taken steps to pay down debt and save more," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Seventy-two percent of workers report they are more fiscally responsible since the end of the recession, and as the labor market continues to improve, we expect more workers will again be able to spend in ways that will drive the economy forward."
Breaking The Habit Of Relying Too Heavily On Your Paycheck
Being forced to rely on your next payday to make ends meet can be a dangerous situation to find yourself in. When disasters strike – such as car repairs, computer crashes or medical emergencies – many people rely on the money in their savings accounts to cover the fixes. However, if you have nothing in savings and little discretionary income at your disposal, you might be forced to take out a loan or rely on credit cards, both of which can have adverse effects on your three credit scores by forcing you to rack up debt you can't pay immediately.
Saving money when you're already stretched thin can seem nearly impossible, but a little goes a long way and there are several small changes you can make to your lifestyle that can help you maximize your income.
1. Know Where Your Money Is Going
A recent Bloomberg column listed "Track Your Expenses" as a crucial tactic in saving money. By listing every expense you have each month and monitoring your spending, you may quickly realize that there are areas in which you can cut down on and save more money. For example, do you really need a 200-channel cable package? Cutting back on utilities, cellphone packages and other perks can quickly save you upwards of $100 each month.
2. Treat Your Savings Like Another Bill
You wouldn't forego paying your mortgage or electricity bill, so it can be helpful to adopt the same attitude about your savings account. Analyze your budget for areas where you can afford to save and start automatically transferring this amount into your savings account each payday. Even if it's only $50 a month, it's better than saving nothing at all. It can be helpful to automate your savings or enroll in direct deposit to help you avoid the temptation of spending it.
3. Be Realistic
One of the primary reasons many people get discouraged and fall back into poor financial habits is because they have unrealistic goals about how much they are saving or expect overnight success. Understand that you may not save thousands overnight, but putting some money away here and there can be the difference between establishing a healthy financial foundation or falling into financial instability.
Managing your money efficiently can help you overcome the scenario of living paycheck-to-paycheck and also make you mindful about your long-term goals.