How to Get One Month Ahead On Bills
Getting a month ahead on bills is incredibly liberating. Once you get one month ahead on bills, you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck and a lot of financial stress will be eliminated. When a bill arrives, you just pay it and turn your attention to your other financial goals.
Being broke and stressing out while you anxiously wait for your next paycheck to arrive is a terrible feeling.
If payday is the only day you feel OK about your finances, getting a month ahead on your bills is one way to break out of that awful paycheck to paycheck cycle.
You’ll have money in the bank. When a bill comes, you just pay it. No waiting for your check or scrambling around to scrape the money together before the due date.
Once you get one month ahead on bills, you’ll breathe a little easier. You’ll sleep better knowing that your bills are under control.
But how do you get to that point?
It’s going to take some time. You might have to tighten your belt a bit for a little while. But reducing your financial stress is worth the short-term cutbacks.
How to Get One Month Ahead On Bills
- Advantages of Being One Month Ahead on Bills
- Should I Have an Emergency Fund Before Getting Ahead on Bills?
- Should I Pay Off Debt Before Trying to Get a Month Ahead?
- How to Get a Month Ahead on Bills
- Final Thoughts on Being One Month Ahead on Bills
Advantages of Being One Month Ahead on Bills
If you’re not sure if changing your spending habits to save up a month’s expenses is worth it, let me convince you it is. Being a month ahead will:
Reduce Financial Stress
There’s no need to worry about paying bills because you always have the money in your account already. Once you’re a month ahead, you pay this month’s bills with last month’s income. The peace of mind you gain from getting ahead is priceless.
Help You Stick to Your Budget
No matter how you budget your money, creating a budget is the simple part. Sticking to it is the challenge.
When you’re a month ahead on bills, you’re most of the way toward staying on budget.
Ensure You’re Never Late on Bills
Pay your bills as they arrive, on their due dates, or pay a little early. You don’t have to wait for a paycheck. You never have to pay overdraft or late fees.
Help You Live Within Your Means
Spending less than you earn is a basic principle of sound money management. That’s much easier to do when the money for your bills is in your account before they arrive.
Provide You With a One Month Buffer
You should have an emergency fund established before you focus on getting one month ahead on bills. If you have to tap into or deplete your emergency fund, being a month ahead gives you an extra month to get things in order.
Allow You to Focus on Other Financial Goals
When you’re paying this month’s expenses with last month’s income, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your bills. You can turn your attention to other goals.
Look for ways to increase your income, cut expenses, pay down debt more aggressively, or save toward your goals.
Should I Have an Emergency Fund Before Getting Ahead on Bills?
Yes. You should have at least $1,000 set aside in an emergency fund before working to get ahead. Having 3-6 months of living expenses socked away in a separate account is ideal.
Emergencies you’re not prepared for lead to debt and other financial troubles. If focus on financial goals without an emergency fund in place, you might find yourself right back where you started or worse off when an emergency pops up.
Should I Pay Off Debt Before Trying to Get a Month Ahead?
Yes. Pay off your high interest debts before working on getting ahead on your bills. Eliminate any debts with an interest rate higher than about 8 percent before saving a month’s worth of expenses.
It’s hard to get ahead when you’re carrying credit card or other high interest debt. Even if the money you set aside for your month ahead fund includes debt payments, you’re still in debt. The longer you take to save a month’s worth of expenses, the more you’re wasting on interest in the meantime.
Once you rid yourself of high interest debt, you can work on getting a month ahead. There’s no better investment with less risk than paying off debt. Your monthly expenses go down and you’re not flushing hundreds of dollars down the toilet in interest every year.
How to Get a Month Ahead on Bills
Getting one month ahead on your bills is an ambitious goal, but it is doable.
Things that are worthwhile almost always take hard work and dedication. This is no different. There might be some sacrifices or some changes involved, and it might take you a year. But it’s a potentially life changing financial goal I’d recommend to anyone.
Here are some tips for getting one month ahead on bills:
Start With a Budget
Budget your money if you want to get one month ahead. Budgeting is a must.
The purpose of a budget is to help you:
- See where your money is going
- Pay all your bills on time
- Reduce spending
- Make progress toward your goals
If you don’t budget your money, start a budget. It’s the key to getting a month ahead on your bills.
When you’re working on filling up your get ahead fund, you’re using a zero-based budget and giving every dollar a job.
Figure Out How Much You Need to Save
If you’re budgeting and keeping track of your spending, the exact amount you need to save should be easy to find.
Total up your expenses for the last three months and average them. Since you have expenses that vary every month, taking an average of the last few months should give you a good number to shoot for.
Establish a Separate Account
If you’re serious about getting a month ahead, keep the money separate. Remove the temptation to spend it. Set up a savings account for your get ahead fund.
Use this account for your get ahead money and nothing else. Funnel money into the account when you can.
Cut Down on Spending
Living within your means is one of the best things you can do to protect your financial future. If you want to get one month ahead on bills, you might have to take it a step further temporarily.
The more ways you can find to cut expenses, the faster you’ll get a month ahead on bills. Reduce your monthly spend by 10% and in ten months you’ll have a month’s expenses saved. If you can cut back more than that, you’ll reach your goal even faster.
Do a 30 Day No Spend Challenge
If you really want to slash your spending, take it to the next level with a 30 day no spend challenge.
A no spend challenge is where you cut out all unnecessary spending for a month. That will help you get one month ahead on your bills faster.
The challenge will also force you to examine how you spend your money, clarify your needs versus your wants, and help you break any bad spending habits. You’ll see how much you can save by cutting things you don’t really need out of your budget. It might even change your entire outlook on spending money.
Start a Side Hustle
Making more money is easier said than done, but it’s one of the best ways to improve your financial situation. Starting a side hustle will add an extra source of income you can use to fill up your get ahead fund.
Look for side hustles with low startup costs and flexible hours. Find gigs that leverage your existing skills or require no special training.
You can find freelance opportunities on Upwork or offer a service on Fiverr. It costs nothing to sign up as a dog walker or pet sitter on Rover.com. You can deliver food with DoorDash or use Taskrabbit.com to find tasks that involve little skill, like raking leaves or assembling Ikea furniture.
Get a Part-Time Job
Not everyone wants to run a side business or be a freelancer. You can still make extra money by getting a part-time job.
With a part-time job, you don’t have to worry about finding clients, self-employment taxes, marketing, or any of the other things that might come with side hustling. You get the extra money with little to no overhead. You can just focus on being an outstanding employee.
Obviously, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices as you won’t have as much free time. If you’re thinking about getting another job to increase your income, check out this post: Is a Second Job Worth It?
Save Your Extra Paycheck
If you get paid every two weeks, twice a year you get three paychecks in a single month. If you keep your budget based on two paychecks like the other ten months of the year, your three paycheck months will be enough to get you one month ahead within a year.
Save Any Windfalls or Unexpected Income
If you get any kind of windfall, add some or all of it to your get ahead fund. It could be a bonus from work, a tax refund, a cash gift, or an inheritance. Whenever you wind up with money you weren’t expecting, use it to your advantage.
Pretend You Didn’t Get a Raise
Getting a raise can help you get your finances under control. Take care not to fall into the lifestyle creep trap, though.
The more people make, the more they tend to spend. There’s no rule that states you have to spend more money just because you started earning more.
Forget upgrading your lifestyle. Forget keeping up with the Kardashians. Keep the same standard of living until you’re one month ahead.
When you reach that point, then consider what to do with the extra money you earn each month.
Sell Stuff You Don’t Need or Use
We’ve made more than a few purchases we’ve regretted. We’ve also received gifts that made us wonder if our friends and family even know us at all. We’ve purchased gear for hobbies and activities we didn’t stick with.
Someone else might want the things you have no use for anymore. If you’ve got stuff sitting around collecting dust in a closet or basement, raise some quick cash by selling it. Someone will want it.
Final Thoughts on Being One Month Ahead on Bills
Once you get one month ahead on bills, you’ll feel unbelievably free. Knowing all your bills are covered before they arrive makes budgeting easier, allows you to find new opportunities to reach your goals faster, and gets rid of so much financial stress.
Do you have to be a month ahead to reach your goals? No. It’s super helpful in reaching any financial goal, though.
If you spend less than you earn every month and make an effort to load up your get ahead fund, you’ll get there.