Okay so this isn’t something I normally talk about, simply because it’s one of those things I loathe.
Budgeting and anything finance related.
Budget 101 – Paycheck to Paycheck Life
It’s a huge pain to live paycheck to paycheck. As a felon that has been pushed out of most professional careers even years after serving my time, I know I still have periods of time that I have to get back on welfare, to be perfectly honest. A job ends, changes, or something happens. It’s a pain living in poverty. It’s a rough climb upward for anyone in this society, but a background triples the required effort in every aspect of employment.
Freelance work has helped some in this regard but has offered a whole new world of pain in the arse paperwork. Also, clients aren’t always at the ready. Even with a strong portfolio. So, don’t be hard on yourself, and try to think of your finances as a challenge to conquer rather than something to hate. It makes me feel better at least.
I can say that it is completely possible in some areas to live on part time low wages. With a household of sometimes four people (blended families make things fun). Who shared a rental home (not an apartment) together. That sounds completely impossible, right? It wasn’t easy, but it absolutely is possible. In some cases, and only with access to a support system of some kind. It’s not always possible, states are funny like that.
Income vs expenses
Grab a scrap of paper or pull up a chart app- it comes in handy here. Of course, if there’s no income, you’ll need to find a job first. See my posts on application laws to look for, resume tips, and interview tips for your perusal.
Once that’s been nailed down, figure out the exact amount you make every month. Write down the total – 800 per month, for instance. That’s after taxes and other withholdings.
Now, we need to divide this down to find out how much we make through the month on average. This comes to 400 every two weeks or 200 every week. So, next to monthly in our chart, we will write out the bi-weekly and weekly totals.
Now, we need to figure out our expenses. Now, I should note that in my budget, everything is rounded to varying amounts. If a water bill comes in at 73 USD, I round it to 75 or even 80. In contrast, all income is rounded down. For example, a cashed check of 415 USD is rounded down to 400. It has saved my arse every time. It’s sometimes painful – no one likes to save – but damned if it hasn’t worked like a charm no matter how low my income. (Except for TANF, that income has proven to be quite worse – even compared to content mill rates – full time hours for 400 a month…that barely covers the fuel to get to the work)
Back to our point, outline your absolute must haves. That can be very different from one situation to another. When living in a car, your main concern is fuel, food, and clean clothing. In the case I’m sharing, the main concerns came down to the following:
Water bill at 70 per month
Internet at 40 per month
Trash at 10 per month (1 USD per bag at the in town dump + recycling regularly)
Auto Insurance at 70 per month
Rent at 400 per month (small town and improvements agreement w landlord – electric included)
This comes to 586 USD per month total for just the big bills that happen regularly and doesn’t include food, medical needs, fuel, hygiene, or other incidentals. See the handwritten chart below for a visual idea of how to write it out:
…..Fun personal fact: While this budget was in place, I would cash my card out – almost everyone seems to offer a card of their own now for easy direct deposit. Then, I’d divide the cash stack into the proper amount for my pay schedule, pinning it with a clip and a note for each bill type until it was due and starting over immediately. …..
That’s where dollar stores, food pantries, and welfare programs come into play because 53 dollars a week left after those constant and consistently timed expenses – disappears in a flash. Shared lunches of bread and basic meats were common too, which helped a lot.
A full tank of gas for the week, an oil change in the car, or a prescription can obliterate what little bit of “extra” cash is left. In finances eyes, everything comes down to what you are willing to do to push your income to higher levels while staying on the right side of the law. Or how creative and communal your situation is (decreased expenses). One fun habit is to hide a 5 or 10 every pay, and then finding it while changing wallets. (Ignore the lump or find another stash spot to help you ignore it.) It’s helped me repair my car in tight spots or covered some medical fee that popped up on numerous occasions.
I have also lived communally a few times and it is quite common for areas like mine (professionally known as poverty stricken). It is more affordable but requires sacrifices of its own sort. Clean bathrooms are the dream that never happen. More than 3 people using a room always gets messy, no matter what you tell me.
I’ve also lived alone and I barely scraped by, even after removing nearly all of my budget just to cover rent on my own while also working overtime and earning just enough to lose assistance (at the absolute worst time it seemed). It’s a damned precarious bridge to full self success, no matter the quality of your criminal record honestly, but I know I’ve survived every batshite situation I’ve stumbled into, so we can just keep trying. The bad shite usually breaks before we do, we just have to keep pushing forward.
At least, that’s been my experience. I hope this helps someone somewhere, it has been useful in keeping my budget in line – at least in regards of the things I depend the most.
And hey, I already know we can’t afford those cups of coffee all the other budget sites talk about removing from our budgets. That counts for something right?
Find tips for life after a felony here!
Keep rising above guys, all my love – Aza