Surviving Until Your First Pay Day: How Do You Do It?

There’s nothing worse than getting a job in order to earn money, only to find out that you’ve started right after everyone else in the office had been paid. This situation could leave you out of pocket for up to a month in some cases and with travel expenses coming out of our potentially empty bank accounts on top of usual expenses, surviving until your very first payday could seem pretty much impossible. While payday loans online could be available in a financial emergency, knowing how to save and survive until payday is a skill you could benefit from in the future too. With that in mind, here is our guide to surviving until that very first paycheck is placed in your hand.

Work Out What You Do Have

First things first, you need to work out what money you do have, whether that’s the funds in your bank account or the cash down the back of the sofa. Having a better idea of what you have available to spend can help you build a better budget for the month or work out what you still need to pull together to be able to survive.

Try And Use Cash Rather Than Card

Once you’ve worked out what you have, draw out what you need for the month and use cash only where possible. This will not only help you keep better track of what you’re spending and where it’s going, but it can also make it easier to budget effectively. You could opt for the age-old ‘envelope’ budgeting method, in which you put cash into different envelopes for different outgoing costs. This way, you can’t take money from the ‘rent’ fund, for example, to use on entertainment etc.

Restrict Luxury Spending

We all need entertainment in our lives, but restricting how much of our money goes onto this is the best way to save a bit of money when times are tough. Instead of going to the movies, why not opt for a night at home in your pyjamas with your favourite DVD instead? You can pick up snacks for under half the cost of a movie ticket, or even make some of your own with what’s in your cupboards without having to spend a penny. Alternatively, why not head out for a picnic in the park with kids or your partner for an hour or two out of the house without spending any more than you would’ve on lunch anyway?

Ask For Help

If you’re really struggling for money before payday, you could ask your friends or family for help? While this method isn’t always possible for everyone, taking a ‘loan’ from your parents, for example, is probably going to come as ‘zero interest’ which will be much better for your bank account come payday. Asking for help from those closest to us is often the hardest method of getting the money we need, simply because we don’t like asking but there really is no shame in asking for help when you need it.

Consider Selling

We all have something in our homes that we haven’t so much as looked at since it was bought and it’s these items that prove to be the best money makers. Just because you haven’t found a use for your clutter, doesn’t mean nobody else will! There’s a buyer out there for pretty much everything, especially if your clutter has a use so why not consider listing a few things on eBay? Besides, it’s not only a great way of making a bit of money, but it’ll also help you declutter your home ready for this new stage in your life!

The first month until your first paycheck can be tough financially, especially when you’re paying out for new expenses like work clothes and travel. Hopefully, our guide can help you get through the month and remember – it’ll be worth it when that pay slip is in your hands!

WTF is a budget?

There is one thing that always reigns true in the world of personal finance: Everyone does things differently, especially when it comes to budgeting. I’m convinced, no two budgets are the same. Here are a few of the different budgeting methods I’ve observed…

The anal envelope:

This method is no joke. It’s not for the faint of heart as it requires some serious discipline. Essentially you create a different envelope for all of your various expenses (rent, food, car, etc). After you’ve categorized your expenses, you put in a predetermined amount of cash in to each envelope every pay period. For example, if you allow $50/month for entertainment, you’d put $50 in cash in your entertainment envelope. Pretty straightforward. The hard part is not wanting to spend more than what you put in the envelope. Once you’ve spent the $50, it’s gone. No going to the ATM or using your credit card. Not even if that camera you really want is on sale. There is very little flexibility in the envelope system. Let’s just say it’s not for me.

The guess and check budget:

Ahh, this is my kind of budget. All you have to do is get out a piece of paper (or use excel) and itemize all of your monthly expenses. Instead of putting the budgeted allotments in envelopes each month, I use a guess and check method as I go about my spending. For example, if I feel like I’ve spent a lot more on dining out than I normally would, I cut back for the rest of the month and survive on PB&Js. This method is definitely more flexible than the envelope system, but it also allows for overspending if you aren’t careful. I generally stay within my allotments for each category, but every now and again I’ll get a little crazy and spend some money I probably shouldn’t have. If you don’t have some solid discipline I would not subscribe to this method.

The “WTF is a budget” budget:

Unfortunately, this is probably the most popular budgeting method in our culture. The people who use this method couldn’t spell budget, let alone live on one. They are usually broke, stupid, and stupidly broke…. but hey, at least they have 786 pairs of shoes they never wear. They don’t keep track of their money at all. They often don’t know how much they make and they definitely don’t know how much they spend. This is not a good plan. It’s financial suicide. If you’re a member of the “WTF is a budget” club, you better figure something out quick ’cause a financial disaster is brewing.

What kind of budget are you rockin’? Do you set aside a predetermined amount each month and stick to it religiously? Do you have an idea of what you’d like to spend, but don’t follow it to the “T”? How do you budget for the irregular expenses like car maintenance or haircuts? I’ve never really figured out a good way to set aside money for things that don’t occur on a monthly basis. Any budget tips, tricks, and helpful hints are always appreciated.

Girl Ninja always makes things difficult

Seriously. What’s her deal? We were having a little money talk yesterday, and I showed her a copy of my budget. I was explaining how it was configured and how all the different sections were calculated. We then started to play with the numbers a little bit, making our best guesses as to what we think OUR budget is going to look like. It was freakin’ tricky.

As I mentioned before, GN and myself, have different opinions as to how much of our income should go to rent. She would be totally comfortable paying a little more for a nicer pad, where as, I am all about finding the cheapest place we can live. I’ve blogged about this housing predicament before (here) so I need not bore you with it again.

That said, rent is the single largest monthly expense we have (except taxes) so we need to plan our budget accordingly. The only issue is … Girl Ninja makes my life difficult. Granted, there is nothing she can do about it, because it’s not her fault. No. It’s the stupid economies fault. She’s a credentialed K-6 teacher here in California, and if you aren’t aware let me tell you something… The California budget is jacked up beyond all belief! This means, Girl Ninja hasn’t been able to secure a contracted teaching position. Fortunately, she landed the next best thing: A long term substitute teaching job. She makes $150/day, but receives no benefits (no paid holidays, no insurance, etc).

Next school year is a different beast, however. We have no clue how many days a month she will be able to substitute teach. Seeing that we can’t anticipate how frequently she’ll be working, it gets rather frustrating trying to establish a budget. Variable incomes suck.

After our conversation, I came home and made my best guess as to what I think OUR budget will look like come marriage. Here are three possible outcomes…

As you can see, if Girl Ninja is able to work two days (out of 20+ possible school days each month), we scrape by with a $282 surplus. If she has the opportunity to work about half of the available school days, we should be sitting pretty with $1,582 in discretionary income. And lastly, if she is able to get a sub job every teaching day, I will pee my pants with excitement to the tune of $2,582/month.

I should also mention a few other things that help lighten the burden of her variable income…

You’ll notice towards the bottom of the spreadsheet I have a section called “Side Hustle“. This is all the money I bring in from tutoring, house sitting, and blogging. I was super conservative and only accounted for $240/month in extra income, when I have been averaging between $500-$1,000.

What’s more, 10 months a year I receive two paychecks. We decided to budget our expenses around those two checks, even though I actually get paid three times in April and October. This means, twice a year, we will have an additional $1,600 to put in to savings.

Although Girl Ninja’s income will is inconsistent, we should ALWAYS be able to get by. Even if she is practically unemployed, we should still be able to grow our savings account by $5,000yr (even after contributing to retirement). If she is able to land another long term sub job, or even better a contract job, we should be able to save $20,000 to $30,000 over the next year.

Of course all of this is based off a bunch of assumptions, but I did my best to make these assumptions pretty conservative. Barring a major unforeseen crisis, we should be able to start our first year of marriage with a positive financial outlook and that makes me happy. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as we actually start living these assumptions.

What assumptions did you make before combining money?

How do you, with variable incomes, do it?

Am I overlooking anything?

p.s. I did leave out the clothes/entertainment/etc from my budget, but I did so for a reason. I’ll have to explain it in tomorrow’s post. That’s my fault for not clarifying.