Budgeting Tips For When You Live Paycheck to Paycheck

Living paycheck to paycheck can make budgeting feel impossible. But the good news is, even if this is your reality, it’s still possible to keep a budget — It just takes a few extra steps.

One of the ways living paycheck to paycheck makes budgeting difficult is that it may prevent you from being able to fill your Envelopes to full at the start of the month. 

Instead, you’ll need to fill your Envelopes by priority, so that you can quickly see how much you do have to spend on things like Groceries and Gas, while making sure you still have enough for other essentials like Rent later on.

Here are some budgeting tips you can use in Goodbudget. 

Step 1: Choose your budget period

Your budget period tells Goodbudget when you’d like your budget to start, and it should generally be set to match when you get paid. By default, it’s set to Monthly, with a new budget period starting on the first day of each month, and that’s what we recommend for folks that have multiple or variable incomes. But you can also choose ‘Weekly,’ ‘Semi-Monthly,’ or ‘Every 2 Weeks,’ if those fit your income schedule better. 

Step 2: Fill Envelopes by priority

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you might not be able to fill all of your Envelopes to full at once. In that case, start by filling the ones you need to use soon, like Groceries, Rent, or Car Payments. Then, if you have money leftover, you can stash that into a Savings Envelope, or into a Goal Envelope you’re working on. 

Step 3: Add or Confirm your spending as it happens

Checking your Envelope balances before you make a purchase is a great tip for staying on track.

To make sure your Envelopes balances and budget are always up-to-date, add your spending as soon as it happens, or confirm and categorize it as soon as it shows up in your Goodbudget. This is especially helpful if you’re budgeting with a partner where you both need the most accurate and current information when budgeting on the go. 

Step 4: Fill more Envelopes when you get new income

When you get paid again in the same budget period, you can use those dollars to add more money to your Envelopes. This time around, you might not need to fill as much (or at all) into the Envelopes you added money to the first time around. Instead, focus on the ones that didn’t get money last time. 

With these things in mind, you can keep a budget, even if you are living paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t have Goodbudget yet? There’s no better time to start than now!

P.S. Feeling stressed about living paycheck to paycheck? You can break the cycle. Join GB 30 now!

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