Payday is one of those days that can either bring joy and excitement or a feeling of dread and misery. It all depends on what you do for a living and how you live you life. Some people know that payday brings about a chance of doing some fun family activities or going on a shopping spree or going out for a fancy meal. For those among the population that lives paycheck to paycheck (I'm guessing about 3/4 of the country), payday is just another day where bills will be paid and juggled, dollars will be stretched to the max in order to afford groceries, and the little pleasures in life are considered "one day" items.
I consider myself truly blessed to be one of those people that live in the middle of both of those lifestyles.
Being a teacher, I only get paid once a month. That comes with both negatives and positives. Knowing that I have to stretch my paycheck out for an entire month can be a little nerve wracking. But, I've gotten used to it and know how to do it.
Each month, the first thing I do is pay ALL of my bills. No juggling. No deciding which is more important. I just pay them. There's not a thought in my mind about how much money will be left over. All that matters is that all of the bills are paid so I never have to worry about losing something we need. Once the bills are paid, I take out the money we have budgeted to need for groceries. Then, gas money comes out. And when I say "comes out", I mean I have this awesome spreadsheet that shows how much money I have and put all of my expenses and stuff in to it. The money I take out comes out of that - to show how much I have left.
To make a long, boring, budgeting story short - whatever I have left at the end of paying bills, and budgeted expenses is all I have left for the rest of the month.
And the best part is, I know I was able to do this last year when I was making half as much as I am now. My pay isn't considered high pay - in fact, my pay all by it's self would put my family below the national poverty line. But, I made do last year with half as much... so I know I can definitely get by this year.
Hubby and I have always kept our money separate - and we divide up the bills. He takes half the bills and I take the other half - which include both car payments, daycare, insurance, and food. He pays all the household bills like the mortgage, utilities, cable, etc. It works for us. And I love doing it that way.
Even though we don't have a whole lot of money left over each month to do a lot of spending, I feel very happy that we can pay our bills, eat, and not have to worry about any of it. Life hasn't always been that great. I remember the days when I would hate payday because it was another reminder that I had no money, and regardless of how much money I was going to be getting.. it just wasn't enough to pay all the bills I had. I think that's when I started the "pay the bills first and worry about what's left later" mantra. Going without electricity, water, a car, and even food have been situations I've had to deal with in life.
So, now paydays are a great feeling. Even knowing that there's not much left over to do a lot of spending or family activities. We can usually pull a pizza night or some kind of fast food a couple nights a month... but that's usually the extent of our "splurge shopping". As long as I have everything I need, bills are paid, and food in the fridge - life is A-OK!