Whether you get paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly as in my case, there are common habits that you can develop to get by while you live in that bittersweet spot found between pay dates. This particular post is not going to tackle what to do if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, as that is another post for another time. I’m talking about having your bills already taken care of, but things may seem a little tighter than usual as you wait for the next paycheck.
This is the time when targeting your usual habits becomes key. For example, I just got paid on April 16th. I already covered my bills for the month, but I don’t expect my next paycheck until May 16th. People often ask me how I manage to balance my budget (wealth management) to cover a month with a single paycheck. Oftentimes, I find it easier to make a money plan this way than when I used to get paid bi-weekly. Why? Because it forces me to understand that no additional money is coming into my bank account until thirty days later unless I find myself some side hustles.
You obviously can apply the same logic with shorter periods of time. In order to last whatever time length you have between paychecks, though, you need to take a look at your habits during that time. Habits that aren’t even initially money related can affect your money habits. What do I mean by this?
Let’s look at the following scenario that I often would get trapped in:
I set my alarm for 6:15 AM because that’s the time my dog wakes up to go outside. I take him outside, and while I should stay awake and get ready for work, I decide to take a nap instead. I set my alarm for 7:00 AM because I think that will be enough time to get ready for work. It is in fact plenty of time, since I only have a twenty-five minute commute and begin at 8:30 AM. However, I decide to snooze that 7:00 AM alarm. Snoozing an alarm becomes my default. Next thing I know, it’s 7:30 AM, and I still have to get ready. Guess what I wasn’t making time for: breakfast and lunch prep. Sometimes, I would run out without having eaten breakfast or gotten something decent to throw in my bag for lunch.
This resulted in making a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts on the way to work to grab coffee and a bagel for breakfast or stopping at McDonald’s for a Sausage McMuffin. I’d justify the purchases because I needed something to eat in the morning, after all. If I grabbed something light and quick from the refrigerator as my lunch in my hurry, then I would buy snacks from the store across from my job. These things add up and stemmed from my poor habit of not waking up on time in the mornings. Other habits in your life can impact your spending habits!
Do I wake up on time every single day I work now? No, but I have improved on this habit. On most days, I am able to prepare a lunch and breakfast item to take to work with me. I buy coffee as part of my regular groceries and take it to work to make at work. This in turn means that I don’t stop at Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s as often anymore. The result? I can stretch my dollar a little bit more in between pay dates. I’m also possibly a bit healthier because of it.
What are some regular ol’ daily habits that you have that can impact your spending habits?
After a week hiatus, I am back! Thought I was going to be gone for a long time? No, I invested in this domain name for a year, and I will get my money’s worth out of this domain! I traveled to Peru, and enjoyed llama-watching along with other great experiences. However, this isn’t a travel blog. So, let’s talk money!
I often get asked how I am able to afford traveling. I think some people have an assumption that I must be making bank whenever they see that I am posting photos from another destination. I am in fact, not rolling in dough a la Scrooge McDuck style, unfortunately. However, I have learned to be money smart when it comes to traveling. Learned is the key word here, as with anything else on Breaking the Piggy Bank, I had to learn how to be financially savvy when it came to traveling.
My traveling experiences can be broken down to two categories:
Traveling While Not Planning Ahead and Saying Fuck It
Traveling While Being Money Smart
Can you imagine what the difference may be?
My first experiences traveling were in my early 20s. I was financially stable enough, but hadn’t yet learned how to proactively plan towards something, such as a trip. However, I had a near perfect credit score, which in return gave me a few credit cards with high limits. As you can imagine, my traveling amounted to charging nearly everything on my credit cards. I went to Wisconsin Dells purely by nearly maxing out my credit card. Seeing the pickle I had gotten into, my aunt decided to help me out afterwards. She loaned me the money to pay off that credit card, so that I could pay her back without interest.
Yet, I didn’t learn my lesson there.
The trips I took a few years later to Las Vegas and New Orleans? Basically, I charged everything for them, too. One could say I had no business traveling, and one could be right. Looking back now I realize that I could have still traveled to those places, but I should have been planning for them instead. Furthermore, I should have at least made a solid plan in how to pay off everything was charging on my credit cards for those trips. Instead, my mentality was stuck in the “fuck it, I’ll figure it out later” mode.
Now, in the present, I am a stickler towards being proactive about trips. If I know that there might be the chance to travel somewhere in a certain month, then I go ahead and start saving money towards that months ahead. I have a general travel fund in my bank account goals that allows me to set aside money with each month towards that fund.
So, even if I hadn’t planned on visiting New York City in February, I still had money set aside in my travel fund to use on NYC when my friend invited me there. Had there been no money set aside in that travel fund, then this girl wasn’t going anywhere. As far as Peru, I had been saving towards that since December/ January.
How did I get started? Honestly, the first trip I took while being money smart was to Austin, Texas about two years ago. It’s around that time that I began to use a spreadsheet to keep track of my expenses, and that is the tool that helped save towards Austin. Austin had been a challenge to myself to see if I was able to travel because up to that point I had told myself that I had no business traveling with my financial mishaps. However, Austin was the challenge to start new again. To test myself in how I could save to travel rather than use a credit card. From that and subsequent trips, I learned to be money smart when traveling.
Here are some tips and tools on how to be money smart when traveling that I use:
Consider your travel options. What is a cost effective way to get there— Via road, train, or air? When I visited Rochester, I decided to forgo the convenience of an airplane and chose the much cheaper option of taking the train there, instead.
If you decide to make a road trip out of it, then calculate gas totals. This is especially important if you are not the one who’s car is being used. Make sure you have that person’s back by setting aside how much your half of gas is going to cost.
If you’re going to travel by plane, I’d recommend using the app Hopper to keep track of cheap dates. It’s a very handy app when it comes to deciding the best time to fly somewhere. I’ve also used Google Flights for more last minute trips to compare prices.
Consider using airbnb with your friends to split the cost of lodging. If you don’t want the whole apartment to yourself because you’ll be out exploring the whole day, you may consider just renting a room through airbnb. Cheaper option.
Use Trip Advisor or Yelp for researching how much meals may cost at your destination. This will give you an idea of how much money you may need to set aside to eat or drink.
Trip Advisor has some useful forums when it comes to asking for questions about international trips like how much money people typically needed to get by.
You can use your credit card for your trip, BUT don’t let it be your only means of getting by. If you do use it for above average expenses while traveling, then make a plan ahead of time on how you will be paying down that balance!
Research what type of free things there are to do at your destination. Sometimes you get lucky and there’s a free festival going on during your time there. There’s always free things to do, so that you don’t have to pay to enjoy your vacation.
Find a side hustle: If you’re in a time crunch to save or have unexpected expenses come up, then find a side hustle to get money toward your trip. I have done side gigs, such as dog-sitting, website design, and money management counseling to get money I could use toward a trip.
Use a spreadsheet! Like always, I know, I’m a broken record, but for real… it’s a handy tool to help proactively plan your travel expenses and plan to pay back friends on the trip and/or credit card purchases while on the trip. Below are two examples of how I use spreadsheets in planning for a trip.
I hope some of these tips can help. I plan on having a more in depth post in the future on how you can create your own travel spreadsheet.
Remember, you can travel, but be smart with your money when it comes to booking, going, and enjoying your trip!
Since I will be out of the country for the next few days, I have assembled some goodies for you to keep reading from other great sources while I am gone. You can still get your money fix by clicking on any of the following, which will hopefully keep your thirst for more money talk quenched!
Breaking the Piggy Bank will be back to its regular schedule on Thursday, April 19th with a BRAND, SPANKIN’ NEW POST.
“A Story of a Fuck Off Fund” By: PAULETTE PERHACH Published on: The Billfold I chose this piece because it touches on the idea of a “fuck off fund”. For those unfamiliar with a “fuck off find”, it’s essentially a savings fund with the purpose of aiding in the self-empowerment that you totally will need in the case of a life, job or relationship meltdown. In other words, when shit hits the fan in those categories. That job you hate? Fuck it with a “fuck off fund.” Your relationship with the person who puts in half of their income into your apartment ends? Fuck it with a “fuck off fund.” You get the gist of it all.
BOOKMARK The Billfold for more takes on money matters. You’ll be happy you did.
“No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much” By: ADRIENNE GRAHAM Published on: Forbes I chose this piece because it reinforces the idea for creatives, freelancers and any small business owners to value their knowledge. I think we can often grapple with the question of “should I charge for this” or “when should I start charging.” This article gives you the boost to know what you’re worth, and also gives some great practical tips on how to navigate through “can I pick your brain” requests from people.
Goodbye Subscription Services, I’ll Miss You By: TOCARRA MALLARD Published on: Can I Be Rich Now I chose this piece because at some point we have to make decisions about what we want to spend our money on. Most of us probably have multiple subscription services. I know I do! This piece is all about knowing when to end those subscription services when it comes to financial betterment. Also, you should take a look at some of her other posts on her blog. Great stuff!
Should I Buy Grammar Software? By: ONICIA MULLER Published on: Onicia’s website This isn’t just a post for writers and freelancers! Any professional should take into account their grammar. Have you considered purchasing Grammarly? Onicia provides us with a quick review on her experience with the software. I should add: I have yet to make a choice of whether I’ll be purchasing it. However, the information is still worth reading and then considering.
I hope you find the above pieces informative. Do you have a piece you think is worth sharing with other folks interested in money talk? You can always share with me on Twitter, IG, Facebook or via the comments here. I’m always looking for more things to read and share with people!