Living paycheck to paycheck has gotten a bad rep. Wouldn’t you agree?
“You need save more or you’ll never be financially set”, the financial pundits scream. I mean you turn on the TV, radio, or check out any personal finance blog and that’s the message. If you’re anything like the normal consumer you’re probably tired of being chastised for living paycheck to paycheck.
There Shame in Living Pay Check To Pay Check
My family and I live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t imagine living any other way. This lifestyle has allowed us to fund the girls college education, save for a comfortable retirement, and payoff debt. This wasn’t accomplished by “saving” or being frugal.
I am not a fan of savings or being frugal. In fact, practicing this will set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars. Savings are for the birds I say.
Savings accounts are not intended to make you wealthy. The only person getting wealthy is the financial institutions themselves. Look around, how many of these institutions are in run-down buildings? I see none. These buildings are fancy, climate appropriate, offer you popcorn, and have smiling attendees ready to serve you.
The last few months, a couple approached us and in discussing finances they brought up their savings accounts. Their concern was how much they earned over the last year. As you can imagine it was a measly annual percentage. Fortunately, for them this wasn’t their only “retirement” account. They were wise and bought real estate.
Seeing this statement I was livid. We took immediate action and set them up with a certified planner and invested the money in a mutual fund. You continue to leave your money in a bank and the pundits are correct, “you’ll never be financially set”. The banker is financially set but the patrons not so much.
On the topic of frugality I’ll save that for another day. This only serves to emphasis the scarcity mentality and very contrary to an abundant lifestyle. Let’s get over the Great Depression and the 2008 financial meltdown.
But Joel, don’t you save anything? We do! We save only enough to cover 6 month’s living expenses. That’s It! I refuse to let the bank make any more money off of me than necessary.
How can you afford to fund college tuition and retirement living pay check to pay check?
Let me show you the method we have used to live paycheck to paycheck and have enough for tuition and retirement. (You may want to take notes here. I’ll wait for you to grab a pen and paper). The method is called zero-based spending plan. Spenders rejoice!
“Spend” all you earn
The premise is this, you want to be able to “spend” all your income. Whether it be weekly or monthly, single earner or combined income. Let’s walk through a zero-based spending plan.
Get your FREE Google spreadsheet download to follow along.
The Process- Zero Based Spending Plan
My wife and I are paid on a weekly schedule. Our zero-based spending plan includes the number of pay periods corresponding to the month. We love those five pay period months!
- Having the spreadsheet in front of you is recommended. The very first cell,’B2’, will be the total $ amount you have left after spending everything. It should be ‘0’. See where the name came from now?
- This simply means you “spent” all your money for that week. When using the Google Spreadsheet there is no need to enter any number in ‘B2’. The spreadsheet will calculate the dollar figure as you enter all expenses in column ‘A’.
- The next cell, B3, is your take home pay or your income. This is what you are paid. In our household we tithe to our local church and this is the first line we “spend” the money. The spreadsheet will deduct that from the starting “Take Home $” amount.
- Next, enter all your expenses you have for that period. Continue and work the spreadsheet for all pay periods. Note that not all bills are on the same pay period. Split the expenses as they are due. This needs to be paid on time to keep from getting late charges.
- It’s recommended that the spending plan be done weeks in advance. I shoot for 3 months out as my expenses are similar. Again, this has been my practice for the last 11 years and have it done.
If your income is irregular, varying from pay period to pay period, take the lowest pay period from the previous year. This dollar amount will be your starting point. You want to lowball here and have a little extra than to shoot high and not have enough to cover the expenses. On the expenses you take the highest from previous year and use this as a starting point.
Don’t get frustrated if the spending plan doesn’t….This may take a few tries before you’re able to get it down perfectly.
Simple enough correct? Who would have thought that spending would be so much fun and at the same time allow you’re achieving financial independence.
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