While making a budget and sticking to it is undeniably important, I’ve always had the thought in the back of my mind that it’s weird how we go about it. We put a dollar amount on the amount of money we hope to bring in each month, then plan accordingly— for those of us living paycheck to paycheck, that isn’t exactly ideal.
What happens when you get sick and can’t go in to work one day? Or even worse, what happens if a loved one gets sick and you need to visit them? Or you get laid off? There are tons of variables that could set you waaaaayyyy back if you’re living check to check, and the only real solution is to get ahead. Here’s why:
You’re actually spending what you earn.
Even if you have other financial goals to work on, like creating an emergency fund or paying off your debt, getting a month ahead should come first. For example, it’s January right now. The money that I am earning this month, I set aside for next month. So, when the first of February comes around, I will check out what I’ve earned in January and divvy that up— with whatever budgeting strategy I prefer— and use that to survive during February.
Like I previously mentioned, this is an especially important goal for those who are behind on bills or trying to live paycheck to paycheck. I identify more with the latter, and by living off of my previous months income instead of the current, I’ve found I have a lot more wiggle room and getting sick no longer equates to me not being able to feed myself next week.
Obviously, it is a challenge for many of us to get an entire month ahead with our bills, but cutting back and making that your next savings goal is undeniably worth it. You might consider putting your tax return into savings and using that to get a month ahead!