Budget Cheat Sheet: Getting out of your paycheck-to-paycheck cycle

Do you find yourself stuck in the cycle of going paycheck to paycheck? Have you been working for years and still have no savings? If you answered yes to any of those questions (or both), you’re consistently going beyond your budget—that is, if you even have a set budget.

While it’s easy to pass the blame to a salary you deem isn’t enough, there are a number of very practical ways you can stay within budget – gradually improving your financial standing. Below are some basic tips to help you stay in your lane.

Assess your financial situation

If you constantly find yourself going over budget, it’s high time you assess your financial situation. And it’s even simpler than it sounds: How much are you earning? How much are you spending? How much are you going over budget?

Once you establish how much is coming in and going out, you’ll have a better idea of what’s causing the deficit, and what you can do about it—crucial elements in beginning to set a realistic budget.

Signs you’re living beyond your means

Once you assess your financial situation, you’ll realize that you’re spending on things that are simply beyond your means.

Often, this is a case of lifestyle choices. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you go out every weekend to reward yourself for working hard the past week?
  • Do you really need Venti Caramel Macchiato thrice a week?
  • Does it really make sense to upgrade your mobile plan just to get the latest flagship phone?

It becomes easier to see what’s causing you to go over budget when you start being honest with yourself.

Prioritize your spending

The simplest way to cut back on spending is to categorize your expenses into wants and needs. Some experts recommend Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to help you prioritize your spending, but an honest assessment of what you really need, and what you just want can already help you stay within budget greatly.

You need to eat, but you don’t need to eat in a restaurant most of the time.

Of course things like rent, food, and utilities naturally come first. But it’s the other things like maybe having a cable subscription when getting Netflix would be cheaper instead.

Or maybe booking a hotel for a friend’s wedding when an Airbnb would be more practical. There are a plethora of ways you can cut back on spending if you only give it a closer look.

Be practical

Frugality is key to not only stay within budget, but to be able to set aside some as well. If by now you realize that you’ve been keeping a lifestyle that’s a little beyond your means, worry not – you’ll surprise yourself how short an adjustment period it takes to get used to cutting back on luxuries.

As a side note:

If you must carry a credit card…

In this increasingly cashless world, having a credit card doesn’t necessarily mean you’re spending beyond your means. It’s more a matter of convenience to an increasing number of people – and card companies entice most people to have one with useful cash back rewards.

Lower your electricity bill

From more obvious ones like unplugging devices when they’re not in use, and using LED lights, to smarter ones like keeping a fully stocked fridge (to achieve desired temperature faster), and quickly repairing a malfunctioning equipment, there are a number of smart tips on how to lower your bill.

Keep a record of your spending

If you’ve never really been a fan of keeping track of your expenses, you’d be amazed at how much it helps you from going over budget (and even saving money). One of the most important things about staying within budget is to actually set and write one down. But to be able to set a realistic one, you need to track and record your expenses.  

When you have a clear record of your expenses, it’ll be much easier to see where you’re overspending (or could cut back further).

You’ll also begin to realize the things you can actually do without. Also, you don’t even have to carry a notebook or create a full-on spreadsheet to do this, as there are a number of helpful free apps that can help you track your expenses.

Seize opportunities

One of the best ways to stay within budget is to actually increase your income. And it doesn’t always mean asking for a higher salary or looking for a better paying job (although that certainly helps). If those options aren’t available to you, you can increase income flow by taking advantage of opportunities you may not have even thought of before.

It could be looking for possible side gigs you can do on your spare time. If you have a hobby or talent, you can sell your crafts to your friends or even go online, or find someone to hire you for your talents. If that isn’t an option, simply rummaging through your closet could help, since putting up an online store to sell clothes online has never been easier.

When you really think about it, we’re all surrounded by opportunities to make a little extra cash if we just take advantage of them. They key to finding it is by being resourceful, whether it’s in looking for ways to add income, or things to save up on.


Often, the key to keeping within budget and improving your financial standing is by simply just making an effort to do so. Not everyone can be blessed with a high paying job. But everyone can assess their financial information, cut back on spending, and track their expenses.

Have you ever established a clear monthly budget? Whether you have or not, reassess your current financial situation, and find out how you can make it better by either cutting on spending, or finding a side hustle.

Written by Maricor Bunal

Mari writes for Loansolutions to help educate people in making informed-decisions on taking out loans and becoming responsible borrowers. Being the COO, she feels it is her social responsibility to do so. Learn more from her as she shares tips, advises and stories on finance. Also, she's fond of 9GAG, so you might read some random stuff over here.

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