At one point or another, most of us have been there, trying to stretch a small paycheck around bills that only seem to get bigger. And the often-parroted strategies for making ends meet are largely the same: buy second-hand, clip coupons, wait for sales, etc.
But there’s more to life than just figuring out the best way to get by. If small paychecks are a fact of life for you (at least right now), here’s how to rethink the numbers and maybe even begin to feel rich.
Before we start, check out this video. It’s about how to save 10 percent or more on everything you buy.
Now, here are eight ways to feel big while living on a small income.
1. Allow yourself small indulgences
Feeling wealthy despite a small paycheck is often as simple as allowing yourself small indulgences. Splurge for your favorite coffee drink on Friday afternoons, skip the spa weekend and invest instead in a 10-minute chair massage, have a good glass of wine with dinner, or carve out some time for a Saturday matinee.
Little luxuries reward our hard efforts, keep us motivated, and offer a temporary respite from constant budget-watching.
Get what you need without using cash. Bartering is one of the oldest forms of commerce, and it’s enjoying a revival.
Instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to save enough cash to pay for X, Y or Z, brainstorm ways to use the barter system. What skills, services or unused items could be traded for what you need and would otherwise have to pay for? Could you swap childcare services on a Saturday for an oil change? Could you tutor the neighbor’s kid in algebra in exchange for snow removal services? How about trading that old moped for your friend’s unused table saw?
Bartering is all about leveraging relationships to find innovative solutions that are a win for everybody.
3. Stay ahead of the interest game
Nothing shrinks an already small paycheck faster than interest. No matter how tempting it may be to alleviate a temporary budget crunch through the use of a credit card or worse, a payday loan, actively avoid both. The interest rate and terms on each can turn a small budget challenge into a chronic debt nightmare and leave you feeling poorer than ever.
If you’re ready to kick the credit card habit, here are some pointers to get you started.
4. Save anything you can
Get over the notion that in order for saving to really matter, you have to stash hundreds of dollars at a time.
Saving is an exercise in patience, persistence and incremental success. You can slowly build wealth and enjoy all the psychological rewards that go along with increasing your financial security by saving $10 here and $20 there. Once you decide to do it, the key to success is simple: Stick with it, don’t waver, and don’t let temporary wants drain what you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.