Ah, yes, the paycheck to paycheck cycle, where you get paid, blow through it, and are broke until you get paid again. In my case, I would have scenarios where I could only put $10 of gas into my car because I couldn’t afford to fill it up because ran out before I got paid again. Or I would need groceries and couldn’t buy any because I hadn’t gotten paid yet. Or I had bills that were due that I was in danger of being late on because I hadn’t gotten paid yet! Yep, it’s stressful.
My first solution to this problem was to borrow a few dollars from my savings and pay myself back when I got paid. But then I was left stressing myself out until I paid myself back. My next solution was to use my credit card and just pay it off. But that made me feel like a pauper. And also itchy. I also tried “floating” myself a paycheck from my savings, but then it ended up being nearly the end of the month before I was able to pay myself back – just in time for the whole stressful cycle to start all over again. After doing Financial Peace University, I decided to keep $50 in my checking account at all times. And that worked out a lot better than my other solutions.
But the $50 would only allow me to get so far into the month. It was only enough to get a tank of gas and pay my water bill in case either of those needed funding before I received my first paycheck for the month. That was it. Better, but still not good enough.
So, finally, I got it. One of the time I switched banks last year, I put enough extra money in my checking to cover my first paycheck of the next month – now I’m a week ahead. Problem solved. I can pay bills, grocery shop, whatever it is I need to do, and I can do it all without stress.
I know the You Need A Budget team wants you to be an entire month ahead, but I just don’t find that necessary. The extra check creates a nice buffer between me and stress and gives the same exact level of peace. Actually a higher level of peace as I didn’t have to try and get all that money in my account in the first place. I still wonder from time to time if I’ll start eating into next month’s budget before the month actually begins, but so far that hasn’t been a problem at all. I guess that’s also why it’s so important that I actually follow my budget.
Another reason I don’t need to be a month ahead is because all of my bills are due by the 15th, except for one which is due on the 20th. So I pay all of my bills by the 5th. It’s not too many, just water, electricity, phone, and internet/television. After that I have nothing else until Netflix, my mortgage, and my home owner association fees, which are due at the end of the month, and Netflix, of course, is automatic.
This makes things pretty easy on my brain and keeps my impatient self from having to wait on a paycheck. I know some people say to give and save off the top, but I don’t forget to do it so I do it whenever.
It was one of my dreams when I was broke to be a month ahead, but now that I can do it, I’m finding that being a week ahead is working nearly perfect for me. Of course there are still times, when I have a bigger purchase to make like season tickets to the opera, that I get a smidge impatient, but those moments are few and far between. 🙂