5 Survival Strategies for Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Written by Salina Jivani

If there’s one thing most people dread, it’s checking the mail. Not only do you find an onslaught of senseless solicitations, inviting you to purchase timeshares, plots on a deserted mountain or stamps at the lowest prices ever, but you’re also inundated with cringe-worthy piles of bills. And while bills are an expected, routine part of life we unfortunately can’t escape, they can be particularly daunting to those of us whose paychecks are already stretched precariously thin. If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, here are a few tips that could help you save some cents, and perhaps start a nest egg for emergency funds in case you ever need them.

Sell what you don’t need

Everyone’s got junk. Just look around and you’re likely to see items like electronics, goods, even used clothes that you can sell someplace for some extra cash. Of course, electronic gadgets pay a pretty penny if you list them through channels like eBay or Craigslist. Don’t underestimate the value or salability of anything; as they say, one person’s junk is another’s treasure.

Do a side gig

Sometimes a full time job just doesn’t cut it. Luckily, you’ve got tons of other options out there that can help you earn some extra cash and stretch your budget wider. Consider jobs as a driver for Uber or Lyft, a pet sitter, a baby sitter, a tutor or other alternatives that speak to your interests and can help shoulder the burden of a few extra bills.

Eat in

One of the pricey parts of most people’s days is the money spent on food. A good meal could be anywhere from $5 – $10, which could total up to over $100 a week if you’re eating out at least twice a day. Hit the grocery store or a farmers market (where produce is less costly) and make your meals at home. Packing a brown bag lunch will not only save you costs, but will also prove more nutritional in the long run.

Consider a roommate

Probably the largest bill most people pay every month is their mortgage or rent. If you’ve got some extra space, it’s not a bad idea to consider renting out or subleasing (check your contract first!). Doing so can help you slash your payments in half, affording you more leeway with other financial obligations. Be sure to have your renter sign a lease agreement and collect the right forms of ID so that everything is official and on paper.


Uncover great deals and save money by couponing! The Sunday paper is filled with coupons often totaling over $35, easily, and the paper itself costs only $2! Use even a few coupons and you’ll recoup that money in no time, while filling your cart with name brand goods that can often be purchased even cheaper than generic brands. Plus, if done right, couponing can yield great returns for your money, affording you pricey goods, such as toiletries and household items, for much cheaper than if you were to buy them on a whim.

With a firm strategy and a monthly budget firmly in place, you can conquer even the smallest paycheck and stretch it far. Make sure you take your budgeting seriously and then stick to it—and you’ll be sure to make the most of every dollar and cent.

3 Spectacular Reward Credit Cards for People Who Have Thin Budgets

Written by Salina Jivani

We all love a little bang for our buck, right? Especially when it comes to earning rewards on credit cards? But it’s discouraging when those credit cards only reward people who spend a ton of money. Because, let’s be honest, most of us are on a budget here. And while $6,000 a month might not put a dent in Warren Buffet’s bank account, that’s way more than most of us spend, or can afford to spend, in a billing cycle to see the light of reward points.

How exactly do reward points or rewards cash work?

Most cards review your spend in a specific category (say the amount you spent on travel, groceries, gas or retail) during a billing cycle and give you a percentage of that spend back in either reward points or cash back. You can then use these points or cash in several ways, depending on what the credit card’s program offers. For example, it might give you the option to redeem your earnings in the form of a gift card or a check or, if you have a travel rewards card, you might be reimbursed for flights or hotel stays.

Say, for instance, your card gives you 3% back for groceries you charge on the card, and you spend $300 on groceries one month, you would have earned $9 for just that billing period—$9 you otherwise wouldn’t have! Plus, most cards give you different returns for different categories of spend. So while you earn 3% for groceries, you might earn an additional 2% for gas charges. Meaning your reward dollars will add up quickly!

But what if you’re on a tight budget and don’t have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars a month to reap true rewards? Don’t worry, someone’s already thought about that.

Here are three cards designed for people on a limited budget, but who want to earn a decent amount of rewards for their spend.

US Bank Cash + Visa Signature

While many cards dictate what categories of spend you’ll earn rewards for, with the US Bank Cash + Visa Signature card, you get to select two categories of your choice that will receive the card’s highest tiered reward of 5% cash back, for a maximum reward of $2,000 per quarter. Purchases for groceries, gas or restaurants receive 2% back and the rest of your purchases will receive 1% back.

The card has no annual fee and a 0% APR introductory rate on balance transfers for the first year.

Barclaycard Cash Forward World Mastercard

If you’re looking for unlimited reward, this card’s for you. You’ll get 1.5% back for every purchase, plus an additional 5% when you decide to redeem your cashback earnings.

Does it get better than that?

Well, actually, yes it does. As a signup bonus, you’ll receive an additional $100 when you spend $500 in the first three months.

The Barclaycard Cash Forward World Mastercard has no annual fees and also a 0% APR introductory rate for the first 15 months.

Chase Freedom

For people who don’t have a high amount of card spend, the Chase Freedom card might be just right for you. Once you successfully sign up for this card, you’ll automatically receive a $150 sign up bonus, given you spend $500 on your card within the first three months. If you have an authorized user on your card and they make a purchase, any purchase, within that first three month period, you’ll receive an additional $25 in rewards.

Additionally, you’ll have a chance to rack up more rewards when you make purchases in specific categories of spend, which rotate every quarter. So for example, one quarter you might earn rewards for card charges in the categories of restaurants and department stores. The next quarter you might earn rewards when you spend in the categories of home improvement and ground transportation, etc. You’ll receive a set 5% cash back anytime you spend in the allocated categories. The maximum you can earn in a quarter for categories that fall in the 5% cash back bracket is $1500. All other purchases you make that don’t fall into the specified quarterly categories will earn 1% cashback.

The Chase Freedom card has no annual fees and also a 0% APR introductory rate for the first 15 months.

Remember that earning cash rewards on credit cards is a privilege that’s extended only to those who are responsible with their money and credit. If you have outstanding debt on your credit, make sure you manage that debt to get approved for and reap the benefits of these credit cards. Aside from scraping up some extra cash, you’ll gain the added benefit of being able to better afford luxuries later on in life.

3 Spectacular Credit Cards for People with Crummy Credit

Written  by Salina Jivani

You’re scoping out homes, cars, maybe even furniture. If you’ve got great or decent credit, these purchases probably don’t require a second thought. But the big, fat ugly C word can be quite a deterrent for those who are credit challenged. Unfortunately, bad credit can cost you great opportunities or even steep interest rates for things you dream of one day owning. But, luckily there is a silver lining to your credit woes.

A few credit card companies have programs designed specifically for not so great credit—and they’ve got some good benefits to boot. If you’ve got shoddy credit and are looking to either rebuild it, get access to quick cash or at least benefit from the perks of a good credit card, give one of these three candidates a try:

Milestone® Gold MasterCard®

The Milestone® Gold MasterCard® is a great unsecured credit card, meaning you don’t have to hand over a security deposit. (With a secured card, if you put a $100 as a security deposit, you’ll be able to use only $100 on your card, whereas with an unsecured credit card, you can spend whatever credit limit the credit card company approves you for.)

The good news is that this card is easy to qualify for if you’ve got bad credit, has a simple and quick qualification process and doesn’t post as a hard inquiry on your credit when you apply.

The cherry on top: previous bankruptcies are usually acceptable, given that you’re currently responsible with your finances.

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® Credit Card

This credit card boasts a less-than-60-second approval process and is a solid choice for those who are looking to repair their credit because it reports to all three credit bureaus. Plus, it offers a flexible payment date to make sure you’re able to comfortably and timely make your card payments. Do this repeatedly and consistently and you’ll increase your credit score in the long run. And if you make several payments on time, you’ll be able to successfully request a credit limit increase—which equals more purchasing power!

The cherry on top: Earn 1% cashback on your gas and grocery purchases (terms apply).

Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card

One of the last-ditch efforts for people who need a credit card in a hurry but have not-so-great credit. The bad news is there’s no rewards or cashback to be earned, but on the plus side, at least you have access to quick cash. Also, since it’s a Visa, it’s accepted worldwide and at many retailers across the nation. The card does report to all three major credit bureaus, so you’ll have a shot at improving your credit score if you make consistent, timely payments.

The cherry on top: Approval is often quick, if not instantaneous.

With credit cards comes responsibility, so do make every attempt to make your payments on time and remember that although not paying your credit card bills on time or in full might seem insignificant in light of other bills that pile up, it can have long-term, adverse effects on your credit—and your standard of living.