5. Stagger your bill-paying cycles
Many companies these days allow customers to adjust their billing cycles. If switching your cellphone or car insurance invoice from the 15th to the 1st of the month would help alleviate some budget stress, make a few phone calls.
You might be surprised how willing companies are to help you help them!
6. Run your own race
The quickest way to feel bad about what you don’t have is to focus on what others do.
Try not to play the comparison game; it’ll only tempt you to buy what you can’t afford and leave you feeling worse than ever. Instead, focus on where you started, what you’ve built so far, and what your goals are. Realize that every paycheck, however modest, is a another step toward strengthening your financial position and funding those goals.
7. Rethink wealth
It may sound a bit Pollyanna or overly simple, but wealth comes in different forms. Instead of concentrating solely on your small paycheck and what it won’t buy, try to find the surplus all around you.
Maybe your wealth is time, and it allows you to focus on relationships, family and building new skills. Maybe you’re surrounded by dear friends who enrich your life in countless ways. Maybe you’ve just earned a degree and have a wealth of education and training that’s just waiting to be put to use.
Sure, money’s great, and who wouldn’t want to make more of it? But don’t get hung up on a number to the exclusion of your other riches.
8. Minimize the messaging
Any advice on living a rich life despite a small paycheck would ring hollow without acknowledging an important truth: We live in a sea of commercial messages that equate money and possessions with satisfaction and happiness.
Ads surround us every day and everywhere we go. We’re told that our teeth aren’t white enough, our breath isn’t wintry-fresh enough, our phone isn’t smart enough, and our mood isn’t happy enough. No wonder we look at our paychecks and think, “How can I correct my long list of imperfections with this little thing?”
The truth is, you can’t. But you can become more aware of how advertisers use disruption and discord to create desire. Minimize the messages you’re exposed to. Scale back TV watching; don’t make the mall the center of your social world; and find a replacement for shopping as the go-to activity when it’s time for a bit of R&R with friends or family.
One final thing: If anyone tries to sell you on the joys of life on a perpetually small paycheck, question his motives. My goal isn’t to encourage you to settle for less and just learn to love it. It’s to embrace the reality of each situation, live in the moment, and not get stuck in a cycle where your energy is depleted by a constant sense of deprivation.
The best lesson of all is to feel empowered regardless of your income and be motivated to identify and seize those opportunities that could improve your life.
What are your strategies for feeling rich on a not-so-rich budget? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.