Most economic surveys show that roughly eight out of every ten Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck. Missing one of those paychecks can lead to serious financial stress, so you’ll want to have a plan in place just in case it happens. Employees sometimes get fired or laid off. Independent contractors are dependent on their clients. No one is immune to this.
Do you think your job is in jeopardy? Look for a new one. Are you not making ends meet as an independent contractor? Maybe it’s time to find a regular job. If you’re deeply in debt, it may be a good idea to apply for a debt consolidation loan and lower your monthly payments before a missed paycheck makes paying it off even more difficult. If you do miss a paycheck, try making the following five moves:
1. Tighten Your Budget
This is likely to happen naturally if you just missed a paycheck. Ideally, you want to tighten your budget before that happens. Eliminate any non-essential expenses, cut back on impulse spending, and open a savings account for emergencies. These are the actions that will help you get out of that paycheck-to-paycheck rut and protect you from lost income.
2. Pay Living Expenses First
Missing a paycheck may force you to make some hard choices. Always pay your essential living expenses first. That includes your car payment if you need a vehicle to get to work, your mortgage (or rent), utilities, and food for the house. Takeout food is not essential, and neither is cable TV. Those may have to be put on hold for the time being.
3. Pause Your Debt Payoff Program
Assuming you’ve created a debt payoff plan, it’s okay to pause it if you just missed a paycheck. Make your minimum monthly payments on credit cards and loans if you can, but you can stop any extra payments until you’re back on track again. You might also want to contact your lenders and credit card companies to ask for hardship forbearance or payment deferments.
4. Host a Yard Sale
Sell some of your stuff to make some extra cash. You probably have an attic or basement that’s filled with items you consider useless. Others might find those items to be valuable. You know the saying, “one person’s trash is another’s treasure.” You can host a physical yard sale or list items on eBay. Either way, you will raise some extra cash and clean out the house at the same time.
5. Find a Side Hustle
When the world shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone was looking for a side hustle and creativity was at an all-time high. Take something that you enjoy doing as a hobby and find a way to monetize it. The world needs writers, photographers, graphic designers, dog walkers, and handymen. There’s extra money to be had in all of these areas.
The Bottom Line: Proper Preparation Prevents Poverty
Yes, it’s slightly different from the classic “5 Ps” you generally see, but the principle is the same. Prepare properly and you can prevent poverty. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is not a recipe for long-term financial security. You will always be vulnerable if you don’t make some changes. Follow the suggestions in this article and you will be able to easily survive missing a paycheck.