How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck The Frugal Way

Tired of living paycheck to paycheck?

Do you crave a different life? Want more than just barely affording the essentials?

Falling into the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle with no savings is a tiring and emotional roller-coaster.

You’re never sure if you’ll have enough money for all your bills each month and you worry about the unexpected happening.

Because you couldn’t cope if it did.

Yet so many of us do live paycheck to paycheck without thinking why and how we ended up like this.

Spending everything you earn and more, because it’s there, is just so easy to do.

You have access to credit cards, overdrafts and loans to encourage you to spend more than you earn.

And everyone around you seems to be doing the same.

purple and white flowers in a basket with a clear milk bottle full of water behind

According to the Financial Samurai, living in San Francisco and earning $300,000 a year means you are likely living paycheck to paycheck!!

Now I appreciate there are cities around the world that are super expensive to buy a house in, and yes you do need to earn more to stay afloat.

But paying $1,650 for food and $400 for clothes for a family of 3 every month?

Personally I don’t consider that living paycheck to paycheck!

$300,000 is a figure I cannot actually comprehend as it’s so far above anything Mr.2p and I jointly have ever earned.

Regardless of your income, it is time to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Stop spending money you really don’t have, embrace the frugal life and start living the life you want and deserve.

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What Does Living Paycheck To Paycheck Mean?

Having read the above article I had a bit of a brain wobble.

Maybe I had it all wrong about paycheck living?

Maybe I was confusing being thrifty with being a cheapskate?

So I turned to Google to find out what living paycheck to paycheck actually meant.

I honestly thought I was going a little mad because my definition certainly does not include a $1650 food budget for a family of 3 every month.

That’s $19,800 or £15,100 a year.

That’s a full time wage for many people.

As someone who has lived frugally for many years the idea of those spending levels as being an acceptable minimum/norm for a family of 3 or 4 is something I cannot comprehend.

I’m the person who usually has a grocery budget for 2 of around $35/£30 per week, that’s around $150 a month, way less than the $1,650 a month for 3.

I do have some extreme frugal living habits which seem perfectly natural and sensible to me.

I’m not super eccentric or cheap, just careful with my money which has allowed me to save enough to retire 17 years early.

So yes, I struggled with those figures and accepting they could be true.

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Here is the definition from the financial directory of Investing Answers:

Paycheck-to-paycheck means a lifestyle in which a person does not save money and would incur significant financial stress if he or she does not receive his or her next paycheck.

That meaning reassured me I hadn’t got it wrong but worryingly, on a totally different level, it also fits with the Financial Samurai’s point.

It’s just not a level that I can comprehend coming from a frugal background for so many years.

If you earn £300,000 a year but spend every penny every paycheck with an empty savings account, then you would incur significant financial stress.

Exactly the same as if you were living on a low income and spent it all without saving any.

couple doing their finances with paperwork and calculator surrounding them to signify stop living paycheck to paycheck

How Living Paycheck to Paycheck Can Affect You

Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed with what you should or could be doing to try and save money and stop living beyond your means.

You don’t know what you should or shouldn’t do.

So you don’t do anything at all to make the changes you need to change how you spend your money.

You know you need to start living on less but don’t know how to get started.

Because you are overwhelmed and stressed about your money situation you can have physical health problems, have difficulty sleeping at night and your relationships can show the strain.

You know budgeting needs to happen but it can seem pointless when you can’t save any money and are stuck on the paycheck roller coaster.

Worrying about money is a way of life, you worry about what you are spending, what you are not spending and end up a little stress bunny.

Not good!

Related posts:

How To Save Money Without A Budget

How To Live On Less Money In Difficult Times

Child holding house and tree in hands against spring green background - stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Frugal Living Is The Answer

When you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck with no savings and want to stop, frugal living and all that it offers can make the difference between success and failure.

Many people talk about all the things you must do without to get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

All that you must cut out, stop doing, miss out on, if you are going to balance your books and start saving money.

Whereas if you embrace all that frugal living has to offer, you are no longer doing without but enjoying what you do have.

When you live frugally you do make choices about what not to buy, but you are making positive choices.

It’s never about depriving yourself.

It’s about making conscious decisions to make different choices, and working on achieving your long-term goals.

As a frugalista you learn to love living within your means.

You don’t beat yourself up for the decisions you make, you recognize that you are human and have foibles that you need to work with.

I love being frugal, I treat it as a challenge and get a buzz out of some of my money saving habits.

There are times when I don’t think about trying to save money and spend more than I had planned.

But because I have been frugal so long I never go mad and blow my budget out of the water.

It just increases a little one month and decreases again the following month.

No-one likes being told they can’t do something but choosing to do differently is much more appealing and acceptable to us all.

Frugal living will give your mental health a boost.

Taking positive, affirmative action for both you and your family now and your future self allows you to relax because you have got you covered.

So if you’re tired of living paycheck to paycheck and want to start saving money and paying your bills without stressing, read on for some great, positive tips that I promise will help.

Frugal reading:

49 Things Being Frugal Taught Me (It’s Worth It!)

Frugal Living For Beginners: How To Get Started

11 Things Frugal People Just Do Not Do

Make More money

When you are on a low income, combining frugal living with making more money can make a real difference to your finances.

And because frugal living is all about stretching your money further, you don’t need to earn thousands more to get your finances in good shape, but instead try some side hustles that just give you a boost in resources.

Earning extra money allows you to focus on your favorite financial goals.

Ideas To Earn Extra Money

Side Hustles can really help you finanacially in the long run. These could be either part-time jobs or work from home oppoprtunites.

For part-time jobs I highly reccomend looking towards entry level customer service jobs such as barista, or working the front desk of an office, since they are more flexible about your available hours.

There are many work from home jobs that pay a good income when you commit to learning a new skill.

These posts have some great ideas on money making hobbies and flexible work from home jobs:

How To Make 300 Dollars Fast: 30 Proven Ways

The Best Work From Home Jobs When You Need Flexibility

41 Awesome Hobbies That Can Make You Money Right Now

Additionally below are some really easy ways you can earn money doing small things every day at home.

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48 Simple Frugal Ideas To Help You Change

I have created this list of the perfect yet simple frugal tips to help you avoid living paycheck to paycheck with no savings.

These tips will help you reduce your spending and hopefully start saving money even if it’s only a few dollars to begin with.

Being frugal will help you look after your pennies and make your money stretch further.

Your dollars can start to grow and you will stop having more month than money.

These brilliantly frugal yet oh so simple ideas will help you to break the cycle and have enough money to last until you next get paid.

Indeed I am confident that embracing most of them will give you a blueprint on how to budget and save money.

You will be able to stretch your money further and stress less.

If you are less stressed then your brain and your frugal bones will work better to save even more money.

You may also like:

How To Live Fabulously On A Budget (And Save Money)

Live Cheaply – How You Can Win At Living On Next To Nothing

12 Traditional Frugal Living Tips To Supercharge Your Savings

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48 Simple Frugal Ideas To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

  1. Use the cash envelope system to budget your money each payday
  2. Drop down a brand on your food items
  3. Walk more – for all distances under 2 miles
  4. Invest in a hot drinks flask and take your own coffee to work daily
  5. Learn to say no
  6. Pack your lunch everyday
  7. Create your own work uniform
  8. Use up leftover food
  9. Reduce food waste to a minimum
  10. Don’t eat out
  11. Cook your own fakeaways instead of buying takeaways
  12. Always look for discounts when going grocery shopping
  13. Use a wind and solar powered dryer (rotary clothes line!)
  14. Wash clothes on a short, cool cycle unless they are super dirty
  15. Have no spend days
  16. Go to bed earlier instead of heating your house for longer
  17. Use blankets to keep warm instead of turning up your heating
  18. Switch appliances off at the socket to save electricity
  19. Have a new clothes shopping ban
  20. Use charity shops if you need a new (to you) clothing item
  21. Don’t buy stuff
  22. Have a soup and toast meal once a week
  23. Create a meal plan around what you have in your pantry/store cupboard
  24. Make your own stock from meat bones
  25. Save water coin piles and a piggy bank stop living paycheck to paycheck
  26. Have fun money
  27. Combine car journeys to use your car less
  28. Create your grocery shopping list from your meal plan
  29. Grocery shop just once a week (or less)
  30. Create a list of cheap meals you can make from your store cupboard
  31. Only buy what is on your grocery shopping list
  32. Don’t succumb to top up shops midweek
  33. Make your own cleaning spray with vinegar and baking soda
  34. Close down your internet browsers before you buy anything
  35. Track your spending
  36. Create a budget
  37. Grow your own vegetables
  38. Turn off lights when you leave a room
  39. Keep your energy bills low
  40. Forage for food in season (e.g. blackberries)
  41. Learn DIY skills
  42. Substitute ingredients in recipes if you don’t have something
  43. Pay yourself first
  44. Learn to drive hypermiling style
  45. Unsubscribe from your favorite store emails
  46. Embrace free & frugal entertainment
  47. Don’t treat shopping as a leisure activity
  48. Become a mystery shopper
  49. Wait for your favorite movies to be shown on TV instead of the cinema
  50. Join your local ParkRun to get fit for free
  51. Keep track of your card policies (know your interest charges, any overdraft fess, credit score, and credit card balance) so you can make smart decisions when buying things and not fall into debt
rustic tableau of wicker planter, ceramic lidded pot and galss bottles against a distressed wooden background

My Frugal Life

I have used every single one of these tips at some point in my life, many of them together. My favorites are:

  • having a work uniform
  • having my own flask for tea (I so do not do coffee, and £2 for a teabag? I think not!)
  • packing my lunch (usually a yummy salad)
  • using my wind and solar powered dryer (this is probably my top fave as I love hanging washing outside!)

In fact right now I am using 39 of these tips, not because I have debt to pay off (thankfully), but because this is how I choose to live my life.

For more money saving advice have a read of all the tips from finance bloggers in this post: The Best Money Saving Tips Of 30 Frugal Living Bloggers

Related reading: How To Be Frugal: 200+ Best Frugal Living Tips To Try Today

What frugal tips do you use to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck? Why not share in the comments?

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

These 48 simple frugal tips will help you to learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck.
Stop living paycheck to paycheck with these super frugal yet super easy money saving tips.

Last Updated on 21st July 2023 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

6 thoughts on “How To Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck The Frugal Way”

  1. Loved this list! And really glad you included Park Run, I think these are fabulous and take part in my local one, always nice to get fit with everyone else in the community

    • Thanks Grainne. I have a couple of friends who swear by their weekly Park Run. I love the idea myself but running and me do not mix so I walk, usually a daily 5k and always feel better for it. Great to hear you attend as well, they’re definitely growing in popularity aren’t they?

  2. A lot of good tips. I think most people have things they can cut back on to save money. Many of the things people pay for on a monthly basis are luxuries and not a necessity. As you mention, just stop eating out. This can save a lot of money and at the same time it is a much healthier option. People waste a lot of the money they earn on dining out.

    I know at least where I live that going out at dinnertime even on a Monday during prime hours there is a wait to get a seat at most places. That should be a clue there is a serious problem with people eating out too much.

    Thanks for the great information.

    • Hi Eric. You are so right, eating at home is the healthier option, you are much more likely to have smaller portions and you are more conscious of the healthier elements as you cook. I am a little shocked about your Monday eating out at prime time – there’s me thinking Mondays would be super quiet, a definite clue that more money could be saved by people. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I keep a 1 yr food pantry plus 1 yr of personal & home goods. That way if there was a job loss, emergency I know we have food, clothes, soap and tp for a year. We can live like normal until whatever has happened has passed.

    • Hi Lisa! Wow! You are organised but such a sensible thing to do. I reduce my food pantry once I realised we never got around to eating what was in it but still keep a decent supply as you just never know right? Thanks for stopping by!


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