Scenario: It’s a couple of days before payday. You’ve checked your bank account every day to make sure a forgotten item hasn’t posted. You’ve been eating Ramen noodles for dinner for at least a week. You even find yourself volunteering to attend meetings at work — just so you can get a free lunch out of it.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’re not alone. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 61 percent of workers report they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, according to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,400 workers. This is up from 49 percent last year and 43 percent in 2007.
Surprisingly, people earning average salaries aren’t the only ones feeling the need to pinch pennies: 30 percent of workers with salaries of $100,000 or more report that they too live paycheck to paycheck, up from 21 percent in 2008.
“Workers are employing a variety of tactics to help make ends meet in this economy,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “Whether it’s by keeping a tighter budget, finding ways to bring in additional income or adjusting their savings strategies, workers are doing their best to weather the current storm. These good financial habits will not only help workers in the short-term, but better position them for the future.”
Here are a few key findings from the survey:
- 21 percent of workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions or personal savings in the last six months.
- 23 percent of workers who earn six figures or more report that they have also reduced their 401(k) or savings.
- 36 percent of workers say they do not participate in any programs such as 401(k), IRAs or retirement plans, up from 31 percent in 2008.
- 33 percent of workers report that they don’t put any money aside into their savings each month, up from 25 percent in 2008. Thirty percent set aside $100 or less per month for savings and 16 percent save less than $50.
Haefner offers these tips to help ride the wave to your next paycheck:
- Keep track of spending – Create a spreadsheet to analyze what you spend each month, including the money spent on those inevitable invisible expenses, such as a morning coffee, cab ride or afternoon snack. Once you can see where your money goes, you can clearly see where you can cut back.
- Boost your income – One-in-ten workers report taking on a second job in this economy to help make ends meet.* Ask yourself if this is something you can handle on top of your current job and then pursue some viable options. Check out sites like www.sologig.com for contract and freelance opportunities.
- Speak up – Talk to your HR department and see what is available to help you save on your monthly expenses. Even though times are tough, companies are still offering flexible spending accounts, wellness benefits, retail discounts, transit reimbursement and more.