(StatePoint) Nearly four in five American workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, according to Career Builder. If that describes you, experts say there are steps you can take to live more comfortably and securely.
Build a Nest Egg
Having the capacity to absorb a financial shock is one of the major tenets of financial wellness, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 unplanned expense, according to a report from Bankrate.
Does your budget include a line item for a rainy-day fund? If not, it’s time to make room in your budget for one. Most budgets, when closely examined, have some give, so look for where you can cut back in order to divert more funds toward growing your nest egg. Once you’ve determined how much you can afford, automate payments to this account.
Seek Out Buying Alternatives
Meeting short-term purchasing needs without compromising your long-term finances can be tricky when you’re cash-strapped. Though high-interest credit cards, payday loans or rent-to-own contracts might look like lifelines when faced with a necessary expense you can’t immediately afford, these options can quickly devolve into compounding interest rates, hidden fees or even loss of merchandise.
Look into new financing options, such as employee purchase programs, which can offer a better way to buy when cash or prime credit are not options.
“In a high employment market, many employers offer purchase programs as a voluntary benefit to retain loyal, satisfied workers,” says HR industry expert, Racquel Roberts. “It provides easier access to products and services paid over time, but without the usual pitfalls.”
Programs like Purchasing Power, for example, allow employees to pay for items through payroll deduction over the course of 12 months. There’s no interest on the purchase, no fees and no credit check, making this an ultimately more affordable and accessible way to acquire that appliance, computer or other needed item. For more information, visit purchasingpower.com.
Leverage Other Benefits
As more employers learn that a financially secure workforce makes for a more productive workforce, you may find a growing menu of voluntary benefits in your workplace designed to help you gain control of your financial life. From financial counseling services to student loan repayment to employee purchase programs, leveraging such tools can help you gain financial footing in a paycheck to paycheck reality.
Give Your Credit a Boost
The importance of good credit can’t be overstated. However, 20 percent of U.S. consumers have FICO scores of less than 600. For those who pay their cable, phone, utility and other recurring bills on time and in-full, a new program called Experian Boost may be able to help you boost your credit instantly. The program works by factoring in a consumer’s payment history on such bills, to give those with a limited credit history a boost.
It can be tough, if not impossible to feel secure when you are living paycheck to paycheck, but some smart strategies and helpful resources can help you gain financial footing.