Smart Money Moves to Stretch Your Paycheck

June 30, 2020 by Chevron Federal Credit Union

Updated February 2, 2024

In an era where the cost of living seems to be perpetually on the rise, many of us are feeling the pressure. If you’re realizing your paycheck isn’t going as far as it used to, you’re not alone.

But there are simple moves you can make to stretch your money — and reach your bigger financial goals — without having to sacrifice the things you actually enjoy paying for.

Build a better budget

We talk about budgeting a lot for good reason. At the heart of successful financial management lies a well-structured budget. Setting up a budget doesn't have to be daunting or time-consuming. Start by categorizing your income and expenses. Allocate funds for essentials like bills and groceries and set aside a portion for savings. Regularly revisit and adjust your budget as needed, making sure it reflects your financial goals. You can use a budgeting app, spreadsheet or even just pen and paper. The key is finding a system that works for you with minimal hassle.

Cut expenses

Tracking and cutting expenses is crucial. While it's important not to deprive yourself of enjoyment, mindless spending can quickly derail your budget. Identify areas where you can make cuts without sacrificing the stuff you enjoy. For example, there’s nothing wrong with buying a fancy latte if it makes you happy, but you shouldn’t pay for that streaming subscription you never actually use.

Start an emergency fund

Financial experts recommend having six months' worth of expenses saved for emergencies. However, starting with a more achievable goal, like $1,000, can make a significant difference. An emergency fund acts as a financial safety net, providing peace of mind and protecting you from unexpected setbacks.

Pro tip: Stash your emergency fund in an interest-bearing account like a high-yield savings account to grow your money even faster.

Nix debt

Debt payments can consume a significant portion of your budget, making it challenging to manage your money effectively. Explore strategies to pay off debt, such as the snowball method which pays off debts in order of smallest to largest. If you have multiple high-interest debts, you may be able to save money on interest by consolidating them into a Personal Loan

As you reduce your debt, you'll free up more resources for saving and investing in your future.

Make easy lifestyle swaps

Small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on your monthly expenses. Consider cooking at home instead of opting for takeout or explore DIY alternatives for services you regularly pay for. Chances are, you’ll enjoy the change and keep more money in your wallet.

To keep from feeling overwhelmed, start with one swap at a time and see if it works for your busy lifestyle. For example, try meal prepping on a Sunday and packing lunches for work during the week. If that’s a success, expand into more dinners made at home.

Be wary of lifestyle creep

Lifestyle creep occurs when your expenses gradually increase, often unnoticed. Combat this by putting salary increases to good use. Instead of letting your spending rise with your income, allocate additional funds toward debt repayment, investing or saving. This strategic approach ensures that your financial growth aligns with your long-term goals.

Remember, you don’t have to make huge sacrifices to see a big difference. Prioritizing smart money management moves — like using a budget and tracking your spending — along with a few lifestyle changes may be all you need to stretch your paycheck and start reaching your bigger financial goals.

No matter what your goals are, your partners at Chevron Federal Credit Union are here to help. With Balance, we offer programs and tailored support for everything from building a great credit score to buying a home. 



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