When your salary finally tips over $100,000, all your worries about living paycheck-to-paycheck should be gone, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, 16% of six-figure earners said they have difficulty covering basic expenses, such as food, rent or mortgage and car payments, according to a November 2020 survey by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
They’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.
How is that possible? Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how much money you make if your expenses outweigh (or are equal to) your income. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid plan for your budget. Otherwise, you could end up with no savings and in debt.
No matter how much you earn, here’s how to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
1. Make a Budget and Stick to It
There’s no question that the cost of living is going up rapidly — not just in big, growing cities, but all around the country. It’s more important than ever to have a solid budget.
Poor budgeting is a surefire way to stay in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
If you don’t know where to start, we like the 50/30/20 method. It’s simple and flexible. You map out all your expenses like this:
- 50% of your monthly take-home goes to what you need. That includes rent, groceries, utilities, minimum debt payments, childcare, etc.
- 30% goes to your wants — like your Netflix subscription, dinners with friends and travel costs.
- 20% is earmarked for financial goals, like paying down debt, growing your savings and adding to your retirement fund.
No matter what your income is, this budgeting method is a great starting point.
2. Ask This Website to Help Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
No, like… the whole bill. All of it.
While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a website called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $250,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 5.99% and terms from 6 to 144 months.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.
3. Cancel Your Car Insurance
No matter your income, you want to make sure you’re living below your means. That means cutting costs anywhere you can. And here’s the thing: your current car insurance company is probably overcharging you. But don’t waste your time hopping around to different insurance companies looking for a better deal.
Use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once.
EverQuote is the largest online marketplace for insurance in the US, so you’ll get the top options from more than 175 different carriers handed right to you.
Take a couple of minutes to answer some questions about yourself and your driving record. With this information, EverQuote will be able to give you the top recommendations for car insurance. In just a few minutes, you could save up to $610 a year.
4. You Don’t Actually Have to Pay Full Price — Ever
If you want to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, you’ll want to make sure you’re never paying full price.
Good news: A free site and desktop extension called Rakuten works with just about every online store you shop at, and they can make sure you get some cash back every time you buy — up to 15% cash back.
We talked to Denver resident Colleen Rice, who’s earned more than $526.44 in cash back since she started using Rakuten. For doing nothing. Seriously — she just uses Rakuten for things she already has to buy, like rental cars and flights.
It takes less than a minute to open a Rakuten account and start shopping like you normally would. You just need an email address.
They’ll pay you with a check in the mail every few months or deposit it to your PayPal account. Talk about money for nothing.
5. Play Bingo on Your Phone for Real Money — up to $83 Per Win
You want to cut your bills to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. But you’ll also want to earn more money any way you can. Do you play games on your phone just for fun? You should see if you can make money doing it, too.
A free iPhone app called Bingo Cash lets you play for real cash. Every win could pay you up to $83.
Bingo Cash is based on the classic Bingo format, where you’ll battle it out against other players at your same skill level. Everyone gets the same board and sees the same Bingo balls. The top three players in a game can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.
And no, there’s no catch. There are no ads, either. You can play for free or pay to play in higher-stakes tournaments.
Download the free app and start playing your first game immediately. You could win money today!
6. Get Paid Up to $140/Month Just for Sharing Your Honest Opinion
It sounds strange, but brands want to hear your opinion. It helps them make business decisions, so they’re willing to pay you for it — up to $140 a month.
A free site called Branded Surveys will pay you up to $5 per survey for sharing your thoughts with their brand partners. Taking three quick surveys a day could earn up to $140 each month.
It takes just a minute to create a free account and start getting paid to speak your mind. Most surveys take five to 15 minutes, and you can check how long they’ll take ahead of time.
And you don’t need to build up tons of money to cash out, either — once you earn $5, you can cash out via PayPal, your bank account, a gift card or Amazon. You’ll get paid within 48 hours of your payout being processed, just for sharing your opinions.
They’ve already paid users more than $20 million since 2012, and the most active users can earn a few hundred dollars a month. Plus, they’ve got an “excellent” rating on Trustpilot.
It takes just a minute to set up your account and start getting paid to take surveys. Plus, right now, you’ll get a free 100-point welcome bonus just for becoming part of the community.
7. Cut Costs Everywhere: Let This Free App Save You $40/Month on Gas
How far out of your way should you drive to find a great price on gas? At what point are the savings no longer worth it?
An app called Upside makes saving on gas straightforward with cashback offers that don’t involve any mental math. It maps out participating local gas stations where you can beat the pump price by as much as 25 cents per gallon.
People who use the app regularly save as much as $40 a month. That’s cash money deposited straight into your PayPal or bank account. Or redeem it for a gift card from popular brands like Amazon and Starbucks.
Here’s how to pay less for gas: Just download the Upside app, set up a free account and check the map to find participating stores near you. When you’re ready to fill up, claim an offer, tap “Check In” when you’re at the pump and pay with your linked card — easy money for a few seconds of your time.
You can cash out any time, and you’ll get your money within two days of initiating a transfer. How many free tanks of gas can you get with an average of $148 in annual earnings? Download the Upside app and use code PENNY25 to get an extra 25 cents per gallon off your first purchase.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.