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Living Paycheck to Paycheck? How to Get Ahead

Studies have shown that more than two thirds of people are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

That’s a pretty stunning statistic.

Keeping your head above water financially seems to be getting harder and harder every year, and there are a variety of reasons why that’s happening.

Some of it has to do with the way our attitudes have changed when it comes to money.  Some of it is the economy we’re experiencing, and some of it is due to how the world is changing and leaving some people behind because they won’t change.

It’s been a phenomenon that’s been happening even since ancient times, as evidenced in the Bible in Haggai 1:6 where it says You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

But just because there are a lot of reasons why it’s more difficult to make ends meet these days doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to be successful financially.

There is always hope.


You Don’t Have to Live Paycheck to Paycheck

Living Paycheck to Paycheck? How to Get AheadAny big change in life always starts with the decision that change has to happen, no matter what.

So what do you do if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and it seems there is just no way to get ahead?  There are several steps you can take.

The first step is to get your mind right.

It’s easy to believe when you’re living from paycheck to paycheck that that’s just the way things are and that’s the way it always will be.

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

There is a way to get off the paycheck to paycheck treadmill and overcome the mindset that comes with living in that mode forever.

You can read about how to overcome that mindset here.


You can still succeed financially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Here’s what to do. 


Figure Out Why You’re Living From Paycheck to Paycheck

Once you make the effort to get your mind and your thought processes moving in the right direction, you have to decide that you’re done living hand to mouth and you’re going to change your financial situation no matter what it takes.

Now that you have made the decision that you’re never going back, then you have to figure out what it is that caused the situation in the first place.

Here are some of the common culprits:

  • You’ve come to the conclusion that debt is just a part of life-  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Decide to be different.  Car payments and credit cards are NOT inevitable.
  • Luxuries have turned into needs-  Cable TV, eating out several times a week, and so many other things that we once looked at as “extras” are now viewed as a necessary part of life.  In reality these are not needs, they are wants
  • You’re not making enough- You may be underemployed or just not making enough effort to go out and kill it at work and need to kick it up a notch.
  • You’re overspending-  You are simply spending more than you make. You need to gain better control of what you spend and how you spend it.  Usually this is because you don’t have a plan.
  • You don’t have a plan-  You don’t really keep track of your money and you just spend until the money runs out.  Then you get your next paycheck and do it all over again.  You just simply have no idea where all the money goes.  This is how most people end up living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Money is just too easy to spend-  Credit cards, and even debit cards don’t feel like real money.  When you swipe and sign it doesn’t hurt as much as using cash, so you end up overspending before you even realize what you’ve done.
  • You have a spending problem-  You may have a lack of self control that needs to be addressed such as a shopping addiction.
  • The job market has changed-  Businesses are changing the way they hire and compensate workers.  You have to learn to change with the times and understand how to overcome those challenges that come with how the workplace is changing.  There is a great book by Dan Miller titled “48 Days to the Work You Love- Preparing for the New Normal” that can help you with that. (affiliate link)


Take a Long, Hard Look

Be brutally honest with yourself.

You have to take a long, hard, honest look and figure out what is really causing your problem.  It might be painful to confront those issues, but lying to yourself never allows you to get ahead in life.

Once you have figured out what the main reasons you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you can start taking concrete steps to address those problems and totally overcome them.

In the next post, I’ll give you specific strategies that will show you how you can leave behind the paycheck to paycheck life and start getting ahead financially, instead of treading water like a shipwreck victim in the middle of a school of sharks.

Until next time…

Question:  Do you recognize yourself in any of the bullet points above?

Leave a comment and tell me which one you struggle with the most.



Eliminate Debt Forever by Telling Yourself a Different Story

Knocked Up With Hope

Firewalk Your Dreams

4 Steps to Getting Rid of Car Payments Forever

How Do You Get Out of Debt? (Part 1)- Get Mad and Naked

How Do I Start a Budget?

Going Commando

A Guy Walks Into a Bar

Deeper Issues

Ready to Get Serious About Getting Out of Debt?

Celebrating Financial Freedom Online Get Out of Debt CourseIf you’re seriously considering changing your financial life by getting out of debt, then you have to check out my free mini-course that will get you started on the right track.  It’s a shorter email version of my popular online get out of debt course.

In this 6 day mini-course, I’ll reveal the steps that my wife and I took to get out of debt, and even eliminate our money fights for good!  Best of all, it’s absolutely free!

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  • Jessica

    i work full time and go to school full time. i have no kids, I’m not married. I NEVER have enough food because I pay all the bills first. I have to pay people to bring me to work because I cant afford a car. So all my money is gone before I can put food in the house. I depend on friends and people at work for food. Every time I save up a little for a car I get an unexpected bill, or something. Its always something. I paid someone to bring me to work today after class and they never showed. I had to call out which is becoming a frequent thing due to lack of a vehicle and dependable people to bring me to work. Im in fear of losing my job, and then what??? I’m at my whits end today. I never even spend money on extra things like movies or shopping. I’m going to need clothes soon and thats definately not in the budget. What do I do???

    • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

      One thing you should think about in this situation is prioritizing what you pay for first. Food and shelter should come first before anything else. Don’t pay someone else in favor of putting food on the table.

      Is there any public transportation available in your area? If so, that would be cheaper and more reliable than friends and coworkers, and certainly cheaper than taking a cab.

      As for clothing, there are always churches and other charitable organizations that give away clothes for free throughout the year. Ask around and I’m sure someone can help you with that.

      With full time work and school, obviously you can’t take on another job very easily. What kind of work do you do right now? What are you going to school for? Let me know and maybe I can help with a few suggestions on how you can increase your income.

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  • Jamie

    Im 19 abd I have 3 jobs but I don’t want to work myself to death what should I do

    • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

      There are several things you can do. The main thing though is to decide what you want your future to look like. Once you figure out a direction, then start taking small steps every single day to make it happen. If you want to be CEO of a company one day, then start learning everything you can about business and work your way up the ladder by making yourself so valuable to your workplace that they have no choice but to promote you.

      If you want to be a doctor, find a way to go to school. If you have a dream to open your own business, then find out everything you can about the industry you want to be in and take steps to start making it happen. It may take months or even years to start seeing results, but the earlier you start, the earlier you will see results.

      The point is to have goals and work toward them. I’ve seen way too many people who never really had any direction or goals, and floated along for years just getting by. Then they hit 40 and realize that a large part of their life has been wasted because they never really had a plan. I don’t want you to be one of those guys.

      So tell me Jamie, what is your dream for your life? Do you have any goals you’ve already set for yourself?

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  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Jason, great post!!! We were like this until January 1st, and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have a plan in place now. Our journey to debt free may take awhile, but we WILL get there. My one tip to others out there is that while you may still be paycheck-to-paycheck during the beginning of your journey out of debt, remind yourself that you are at least on the road to the end of tight living.

    • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

      You definitely have the right attitude. Keep working your plan and you definitely will get there. It’s certainly a journey that can seem daunting at times but pays off huge when you finish.

      Keep it up! Thanks Laurie!

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