How to Save While Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Saving should be simple, but the truth is that for many of us, extra money can be difficult to find when expenses pile up. When you add in unexpected costs that may come up, saving money can seem impossible. A recent survey found that as many as 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Without surplus money, how does a person start to save?

Set a Goal

A great place to begin saving is to think about the reasons why you would like to save. Maybe you are trying to put away money for retirement or start an emergency fund. You could be trying to save enough money to make a large purchase for yourself or a loved one. Although different goals may require different amounts of money to be saved, the idea remains the same. Having a tangible goal for your money gives you the added motivation you may need while trying to save.

Track Your Expenses

This part can be difficult for some. Sit down and itemize every expense and bill that you have. That means every expense. That last cup of coffee? Add it. That pack of gum at the gas station? That goes in, too. Once you’re able to identify where your money is being spent, you can put expenses into categories for things like housing, utilities, food, gas, etc. Having these categories will help separate the essential expenses from the non-essential. For example, the money spent to pay for a utility bill is essential, whereas that money spent dining out while there is food at home goes in the non-essential category.

Create a Budget

Everyone needs a budget to provide a guideline for the money they will spend. Many people who are trying to save money already have a budget without realizing it. But now that you have tracked all of your expenses and divided them into the essential and non-essential categories, reconfigure your budget based on what you have found. Begin by covering the essential expenses. Then, look through the non-essential items to find places you may be able to cut costs. You could make more food at home instead of eating out, eliminate premium channels from your cable subscription, or fill an insulated bottle with coffee on the way out the door instead of stopping for a latte on the way to work.

Try to Eliminate or Reduce Credit Card Usage

The average household in the United States owes more than $8,000 in credit card debt, with the national total exceeding $1 trillion. You may not owe $8,000, but any balance carried can make saving even more difficult. While living paycheck to paycheck, every penny counts, and credit card interest rates will take away more than pennies. Paying down credit card debt can be difficult, but there are a few steps to make it simpler. The first thing to do is to stop using the cards, especially for frivolous purchases. Any credit card accruing interest is a money-stealer, so begin paying off credit card debt starting with the smallest balance. Getting this balance to zero will let you make larger payments on higher balances in the future.

Start Saving

Once you have your budget in place, you should have a better idea of how much can be saved, after expenses, from each paycheck. According to the 50/30/20 budget, 20% of your income should be going to savings, but if you can only save $5, start with $5. Remember, any money saved is a step in the right direction. Once you have figured out how much you are going to save each paycheck, begin the practice of “paying yourself first.” Take the money for savings out of your income first, before any expenses, and put it in the savings location of your choice. Most savings accounts will even help you grow your savings by paying you interest. Every penny counts!

– California Residents: As of January 1, 2020, TitleMax of California, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in California. TitleMax will continue to service existing loans originated before January 1, 2020. California Finance Lenders Law License No. 603K014. Please see our California Resident Notice at Collection and Privacy Policy: Submit a Verified Consumer Request to understand what information we collect, disclose, or sell, to request that we delete your information, and/or opt out of selling by clicking Do Not Sell My Personal Information.

– In Georgia, TitleMax offers Title Pawns.

– Illinois Residents: As of March 23rd, 2021, TitleMax® of Illinois, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in Illinois.

– New Mexico Consumers: please see important New Mexico Consumer Information and Disclosures.

– In Nevada, title loans should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any title loan transaction. Ability to repay analysis with income documentation required.

– In Tennessee, TitleMax offers title pledges, and secured and unsecured Lines of Credit (“LOC”). Only one LOC account allowed per customer, inclusive of other lenders. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income (and collateral, if applicable) review/validation.

– TitleMax of Texas, Inc. and TitleMax Online of Texas, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax acts as Credit Services Organizations to assist customers in obtaining a loan through an unaffiliated third-party lender. Please see store associate for details. Please see Texas Schedule of All Fees. TitleMax does not offer pawn loans or pawn transactions in Texas.

– TitleMax of Virginia, Inc. d/b/a TitleMax is licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, license number VTL-11. As of January 1, 2021, TitleMax of Virginia, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in Virginia.

– TMX Finance of Virginia, Inc. d/b/a TitleMax Loans is licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. As of January 1, 2021, TMX Finance of Virginia, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax Loans, no longer originates new loans in Virginia.

– TitleMax®, TitleBucks®, and InstaLoan®, are not considered competitors. Please see a store associate for details.

1 Title-Secured Loans, Secured LOCs and Title Pawns: Maximum loan amount in Mississippi is $2,500. Maximum loan amount in Tennessee is $6,500, assuming customer qualifies for and accepts both the Pledge max of $2,500 and Secured LOC max of $4,000. Minimum loan amount for title-secured loans in South Carolina is $601.

Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires valid government-issued ID, a credit inquiry, and a motor vehicle appraisal. Certain other eligibility requirements and terms & conditions apply. Loan/LOC/Pawn amounts vary by states and product. LOC customers are subject to a periodic collateral review to maintain credit limit.

Proof of income documentation and ability to repay analysis is required in Missouri, Nevada, some Texas locations, and Utah.

Refinancing is not available in Mississippi or Tennessee.

2 In-Store Personal Unsecured Loans: Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. To apply, bring in proof of income (dated within the last 30 days), active bank account details (dated within 45 days), proof of residency, a void check, a valid government-issued ID, and in AZ, a valid AZ vehicle registration in your name. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income review/validation to maintain credit limit.

Unsecured loan/LOC products not available in all stores or states. Minimum/maximum loan/LOC amounts vary by state; not all loan amounts available in all states. Max loan/LOC amount for first time borrowers is $1,000 ($500 in AZ). Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher amounts, currently up to $2,500 in most states. Without SSN or ITIN: Max loan is $300. Certain other terms and conditions may apply.

3 Online Personal Unsecured Loans/LOCs: Must be at least 18 years of age. Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. To apply, you must provide proof of steady income (within 30 days), valid and verifiable bank account (statement dated within 45 days), a voided check, valid and active email address and telephone number, valid SSN, valid government-issued ID, and you must reside in the state in which you are applying (currently AZ, DE, KS, MO, MS, SC, TN, TX, UT or WI) and provide proof of residency. In AZ, must present valid AZ vehicle registration in your name. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income review/validation to maintain credit limit.

Minimum/maximum unsecured online loan amounts vary by state: SC min is $610. Maximum unsecured online loan/LOC amount for first time borrowers is $1,000. Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher loan amounts, currently up to $2,500. Certain other terms and conditions may apply. Unsecured online loan products and amounts not available in all states. TN customers: Only one LOC per customer, inclusive of other lenders.

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