Are you tired of living hand to mouth? You work hard at your job and bring home a well-earned paycheck, only to watch it disappear to cover rent, utilities, food and other living costs. Break the cycle of living hand to mouth and learn to budget, save and spend wisely to build a cash cushion to fall back upon.


How can I stop living hand to mouth?


Right now, you barely have enough money to last from one wage day to the next. Here are some practical tips to help you get out of this vicious cycle:

  • De-stress. Realise you are not alone and that there are solutions to this problem
  • Understand the underlying issues so you can tackle them better. Usually, the reason is:
    • a lack of spare cash;
    • lack of motivation;
    • or a lack of money management skills
  • Use these practical ways to build up savings:
    • Calculate the gap between your income & expenses;
    • Reduce your spending;
    • Learn to differentiate between essentials & and extras
    • Stop spending out of habit and start spending mindfully;
    • increase your earnings;
    • and start saving automatically

Without the cushion of some savings, the smallest emergency can upset any budget you have in place. According to the Money Advice Service, nearly three-quarters of the people in their survey had at least one financial emergency every year. Whether it’s car repairs or an unexpectedly high utility bill, this is one of the main reasons that people turn to payday loans.

Everyone knows that living hand to mouth is a financial hardship. But did you know that it also has an emotional price? Before we consider the ways to stop just scraping by from one payday to the next, we’ll discuss why people do this and how to change your mindset so you can regain control of your life and finances.

The Emotional Cost of Living Hand to Mouth

Having financial problems can be extremely stressful, which can make it very difficult to change your behaviour. To successfully change your financial habits, you must first alter your attitude towards your situation. This mindset shift is so important that you should focus on that before putting practical measures into place.

First of all, even though it may seem as if everyone else is doing fine, you must understand that you aren’t alone. The Money Advice Service found that more than 16 million Britons (or 2 in 5 of the working population) had less than £100 in savings. You are not the only person surviving from one paycheck to the next, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Finally, realise that you have the ability to break the hand to mouth pattern and attain financial security.



Rid yourself of feelings of shame or inadequacy about your situation. This is what makes you freeze and remain stuck in a rut. Try to identify the types of behaviour which are keeping you from saving. Then, think of practical ways to change those habits.

Perhaps you think that you can’t save? Let’s look at why this might be so.

Common Excuses for Living Hand to Mouth

In the same research, the Money Advice Service found the three most common reasons people give for not being able to save.

  • Lack of Spare Cash
  • Their research revealed that income has little to do with people’s saving habits. Surprisingly, 45% of people earning over £30,000 a year had no savings while 23% of people making under £13,500 had savings of at least £1,000. If it isn’t about your earnings, the obvious conclusion is that spare cash depends on your spending habits.

  • Lack of Motivation
  • You must create your own motivation for saving. This could be a long-term goal such as saving up for a deposit on a house. Alternatively, it might be a short-term goal like building your emergency fund at £10 a month.

    You must sit down and think what you really want and what would make you feel better. With a goal in mind, you’re more likely to put money by.

  • Lack of Money Management Skills
  • Many people said that they didn’t have a clue about how to save and blamed a lack of education about managing money. Don’t let a lack of knowledge stop you! If you don’t know how to create a budget, there are plenty of sites like the Money Advice Service who offer advice and tools to help you. Alternatively, organisations like Citizens Advice can give you tips about drawing up a budget.

This fun quiz can give you a bit more of an insight into whether you have the personality of a spender or saver. The results and advice are not professional or absolute; they are merely an indication of your spending habits.




Whether you’re naturally a saver or you’re more of the spending type, we believe that every person can put money and grow their savings. Financial security is not just for millionaires- you can start building your savings now, whatever your salary, and be prepared to handle whatever life throws at you.

Use our guide to create a saving mindset which you can turn into a lifelong saving habit. Try it out- you’ll be glad you did!

Stop the Hand to Mouth Cycle: Practical Ways to Build up Savings

  • Calculate the Gap Between your Income & Expenses
  • The first thing to do is to work out your income over 90 days. Next, calculate how much you spent in that time, using your bank account and credit card statements as a guide. Having an accurate picture of your financial situation is essential to break this cycle. Without an idea of where you are holding, it’s very easy to spend all your income before payday.

  • Drastically Reduce your Spending
  • For one month, limit all your spending to the strict essentials (housing, food, utility bills and transport). Any money left over at the end of the month should be put in a separate savings account to start your emergency fund.



    In the following month, gradually add some discretionary spending. Make sure that you’re not using credit to pay for non-essentials and that you’ll still have enough money at the end of the month to add to your savings account.

  • Differentiate between Essentials & Extras
  • Some of the things we buy aren’t really necessities. Often, we just spend on them out of habit. For example, in the supermarket, many off-brand alternatives taste the same as (if not better than) the classic brand names we’re used to buying. These smaller companies are often several pounds cheaper and offer a better product. However, we are used to buying the brand names, and waste money on these products unnecessarily.

    Before you next head to the shop, do a bit of research online to find the best off-brand alternative to food and household products you use a lot. Be a little daring and try something new! You might be surprised at how much better you like the off-brand products.

    Additionally, before each purchase, ask yourself whether you really need it and if there are ways to save on these items. This is equally true of essentials and extras. Look for special supermarket offers and coupons or consider switching energy suppliers to reduce your expenditure further.

  • Increase your Earnings
  • Find out if there are ways to increase the money you bring home. Ask for a raise at work and try turning a hobby into a small side business to make extra cash. Consider taking on a part-time job in the evenings or on the weekends to boost your income even more.

    Also, why not improve and expand the skills you need for your profession through seminars or evening classes? This way, you’ll be eligible for a promotion or could apply for a higher-paid job.

  • Start Saving Automatically
  • Once you have some money in your emergency fund, you’ll realise how easy it is to save and how reassuring it is to have money set aside. After your initial deposit, start saving automatically every month. Set up a direct debit so that 10% or more of your income automatically transfers to your savings when you get your wage. Automatic saving means you can’t push it off until the end of the month. If you do, you’ll find that you don’t have enough left to set money aside. An auto-save plan is so easy to set up, and you won’t have to think about it afterwards. You’ll just be growing your emergency fund without realising.

Stop Living Hand to Mouth- Conclusion

There are many articles available on the internet with practical budgeting advice. However, most of them forget to mention that saving up money has a psychological side to it as well. Every person has the ability put money by and stop living wage day to wage day. However, you now know that the first step towards financial security is changing your money mindset. Start to think of yourself as a “saver’ rather than a “spender” and reap the many benefits of starting to save.



PUBLISHED BY
Tracy Walter
As a busy mother of 3, Tracy knows all about household finances. After completing her BA English Language and Literature at the University of Hertfordshire, she found an entry level job as an insurance agent and worked her way up. After the birth of her second child she left the insurance sector to work from home as a freelance writer. Tracy’s varied background in personal finance, writing and homemaking provide the perfect foundation for writing for the Payday Loan Net blog. Tracy loves nature, and weekends often find her with her kids at one of the many parks in the Barking area.

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