7 lifestyle habits to keep you living paycheck to paycheck

by Mystery Money Man

Do you prefer living life on the edge? Perhaps you're afraid that creating a financial buffer, such as an emergency fund or a retirement savings plan will make for a boring life, without adventure. If so, you'll find this article super helpful! By following the steps I've outlined below, I can guarantee you that life will never be boring.

Without further ado, here is my list of 7 lifestyle habits to keep you living from paycheck to paycheck. Enjoy!

1. Always go out.
Let's face it, staying home is for losers. It's too hard to spend money if you never leave the house. I mean, how much fun can be had watching Netflix, playing board games, or having friends over for coffee. Lame. And if you ask me, family time is completely over-rated. Gardening? Bleh! It's dirty work, and frankly, who wants to spend the entire summer nurturing produce, before it lands on their dining room table? This isn't the stuff of a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.

My advice, get out there and live life! Movies? Hit up the multiplex and ten dollar popcorn, baby! Sports? The place to be is at the stadium with your buddies. If you can spring for seasons tickets, even better! Not into sports? I would recommend meeting friends for dinner or drinks, often.

2. Buy more house than you can afford.
If you want my advice, skip the starter home! Moving is a real hassle, and the fewer times you need to go through that, the better. Here's what you do. Go to your bank. Find out what would be the highest mortgage amount they would deem affordable. Use that as your starting point when shopping for a home. Be warned, you'll likely fall in love with something that is higher than the banks maximum price, but that's ok! Your banker will find a way to make it work. You may have to increase the mortgage amortization by a few years, or refinance your car loan, but hey, this is going to be your forever home, it's worth it!

By the way, the property taxes will be astronomical. Details, details...it'll all work out.

3. Parents, enroll your kids in as many extracurricular activities as possible.
Remember this, your child is a superstar. I mean, they have big league talent that needs to be nurtured. And if you aren't going to give them the opportunity, then you'll be watching their friends excel as your child sits on the sidelines. So don't close any doors to them. Swimming, music lessons, dance, gymnastics, baseball, football. But wait, it gets better. You'll have an opportunity to spend additional money on skill development camps, or elite level programs. Bring it on! Trust me, your kids will love the over-stimulation, and you'll never have to worry about an 'emergency fund'!

NOTE: Avoid old fashioned activities like going to the park, for bike rides, or days at the beach. Yes, all of those things are absolutely free. But will they make your kids famous? I mean, think back to 30 years ago. I highly doubt that society produced many doctors or lawyers, movie stars or ballplayers without the dedicated programs that exist today.

4. Own more than one vehicle.
This may be my personal favorite. There are SO many ways to layer additional costs onto your transportation budget....budget? First of all, make sure that you own at least one car for every driver living in your home. When your teenage son or daughter gets their license, it's a prime opportunity to help them with the purchase of their first car.

Second, make sure you always buy new vehicles. This will give you the peace of mind of having a full warranty. Besides, you can amortize them over like, a decade, which will make it easier to afford a more luxurious ride, which you deserve.

Thirdly, and perhaps most important, make sure that one of your vehicles is a pickup truck. I know, I know, you live in a cul-de-sac and you haven't seen a gravel road in years, but they are safer vehicles to drive. Also, it means not having to borrow a truck when you buy your new living room furniture next month.

5. Anyone want an iPhone?
Ok, so you cancelled your landline. Let's not go crazy with saving money! Don't get any ideas. If you're not spending money on a traditional phone line, leverage your smartphone to avoid realizing any potential savings. Let's see, you need one, your spouse will as well. And as soon as Apple or Samsung release a new model, remember that you will need to upgrade, whether or not your current phone is functioning perfectly. Oh, and don't forget your 13-year old. They will also need their own smartphone. After all, you're a good parent, you're looking out for their safety, and it's the only way to keep tabs on them.

6. Never buy used.
Whenever you have to make a purchase, always ask yourself; can I buy this item new? Whether it be big ticket items, such as vehicles or appliances, or smaller stuff, like clothing or sports equipment, this is one of the best ways to make sure you spend ALL of your hard earned money.

Hint: The best way to avoid buying used is to leave things to the last minute. When you're pressured for time, it's always more convenient to head to the nearest store to find what you're looking for.

7. Dine out often.
If you're already following the steps I've listed so far, but still have money left over when payday arrives, try this one. It's a surefire budget killer.

Look for every opportunity to eat out at restaurants. Depending on the size (as in number), of family you have, a couple of restaurant meals will rival the cost of an entire weeks worth of groceries. Think about that. Two meals in a restaurant versus 21 meals at prepared at home. This one is a bit of a stealth spend though. You probably won't realize how effectively dining out is killing your bank account, then all of the sudden,'poof', your money is gone. It adds up quick!

There you have it, my 7 steps to keep you living paycheck to paycheck. The sarcasm? I've laid it on pretty thick. If you've made it this far, it goes without saying that the "advice" is full of crap.

But, beneath my sarcastic delivery is a voice, and a message. It's the voice of mass marketing, of advertising campaigns, of our consumer obsessed society. Their message is that you deserve it, and that you deserve it today. Life is to be experienced, and there's no better way to experience it than with (insert product name here). Another message is that 'good' parents provide their kids with every opportunity, and should never let them go without.

Mass marketers say jump, we say, how high.
It's very effective. To varying degrees, much of our society has surrendered control of their spending decisions to these mass marketing agencies. Retail giants know just the right emotional levers to pull, to convince people to part with their hard earned dollars. Trust me, they've had lots of practice.

The best way to avoid living paycheck to paycheck?

Don't let your intelligence be insulted. Don't allow yourself to be treated like sheep.

Stand out from the herd, you won't regret it.

The 7 lifestyle habits to keep you living paycheck to paycheck appeared first on Mystery Money Man.

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25 ways to double your paycheck in one month

1. Make Money Off Your Clutter Take a look at your house or apartment: It's time to re-evaluate what you actually use and what's just taking up valuable space. Sell belongings you no longer need on eBay or Craigslist, or go the old-fashioned route and hold a garage sale. It's a practical way to free up some space and fill up your wallet.

Related: 20 Hidden Sources of Income Lying Around Your House

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2. Get Paid to Carpool

Switch up your daily commute this month by carpooling with other coworkers. If you have a reliable car, offer to be the driver — on the condition that your carpool buddies take care of all gas costs. If you're not wild about being the sole driver, work out a plan where you each switch off; you'll still save money on fuel.

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3. Use Your Free Credit Card Rewards

Those cash-back points have to come in handy sometime. If you've been using a rewards credit card, check your statement to see how much you can redeem. Can you use your rewards points toward gas, groceries or other purchases?

Just like money found under the couch cushion, these points were always there — but taking advantage of them is like tapping into free cash you can use throughout the month without dipping into your bank account.

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4. Pick Up Your Unclaimed Cash

There might be forgotten cash belonging to you, just waiting to be claimed. This could be in the form of a missing paycheck, a utilities security deposit or an annuity you didn't know you were entitled to. A good way to check to see if you have any money out there with your name on it is to visit MissingMoney.com, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

Conversely, if you need some quick cash in a pinch, call your utility company to see if you can cash in your original security deposit — you'll be more likely to get it if you've been timely with your bill payments.

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5. Do Your Own Chores and Errands

Taking over some of the chores, errands and housework you employ others to do can save you a lot of money in the long run.

This can even help on a short-term basis: Find a service you could do yourself — gardening? cleaning your house? painting a room? — and cut it out of your budget for a month. In some cases, you might prefer your own skills and stick with the do-it-yourself method for good. Plus, if you find you've got an aptitude for the chore, you might be able to do it for neighbors or friends as a side income.

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6. Sell Your Blood

Provided you're not squeamish about needles (and you meet local health code mandates), many organizations regularly hold blood drives where you can be paid upwards of $50 for your blood or plasma. Do some research and, of course, talk to a doctor to make sure giving blood is in your best interest.

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7. Become an Online Survey Taker

If you have an opinion on a wide range of topics and issues, why not get compensated for it? There are a number of websites that will pay you for taking online surveys, including OpinionOutpost, E-Poll and Swagbucks.

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8. Return Unnecessary Purchase

Are there some impulse buys you made at the mall a month or two ago that still haven't been opened or used yet? Rather than letting them collect dust on the shelf, go back to the store where you got them from (with a receipt, if possible) and try to get a refund. If the retailer's return policy is too strict, consider selling the item online or exchanging it for store credit.

In the future, try to shop at the retailers with the best return policies.

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9. Rent Our Your Parking Spot

Do you own a personal parking space? Try renting it out for one month and finding street parking. (Far away? You'll get more exercise.) If you don't own a spot, consider renting out your driveway.

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10. Sell Unwanted Gift Cards

Many people are unaware that they don't need to be stuck with an unwanted or partially spent gift card. Sell your gift cards on one of the many online gift card marketplaces out there, like Cardpool or CardCash. Depending on the site, sellers can receive up to 80 percent or 90 percent of their card's original value.

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11. Take Part in a Research Experiment

Universities, clinics and other medical research groups are always on the lookout for people to participate in behavioral studies and trials. And they'll pay handsomely, too; compensation can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Remember to always sign a consent form, do your homework on any organizations you plan on working with, and don't participate in any studies that make you uncomfortable.

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12. Sell Your Old Cellphone

Cellphones, iPads and laptops become obsolete fast, but that doesn't mean there isn't someone out there willing to buy an outgoing model from you. One good resource for this is Gazelle.com, which will appraise your equipment and, based on its condition, give an estimate of how much you're likely to earn by selling it.

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13. Recycle Stuff for Cash

It could be anything from a few tin cans and glass bottles to old tires and computer equipment — recycling can pay off with the right quantities at the right places. According to U.S. News, recycling centers generally pay about 40 cents per pound of aluminum cans, up to 50 cents per pound if you bring in over 100 pounds. As for computer equipment, the older the better — the really ancient machines are more likely to be made of materials like copper, which go for more.

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14. Take a Part-Time Job

One of the best ways to double your paycheck is to earn another paycheck. Try to find a side gig that offers you flexible hours and quick cash in your pocket, like bartending or waiting tables.

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15. Tutor or Teach

Is there a specific subject or skill you have a knack for? If you were always a math or science whiz, become an after-school tutor for a student needing help with algebra or chemistry homework. Or, were you always musically gifted? Consider offering guitar lessons.

Set your own price, depending on the topic and level of instruction — you could easily make hundreds more a month.

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16. Sell Homemade Crafts

If you've got an artistic side, your talents can bring in some quick cash when needed. Websites like Etsy.com are the go-to online marketplaces for artisans selling all sorts of homemade creations, from hand-sewn fabrics to natural perfume oils, sculptures and paintings.

To figure out what kind of prices to set, browse the marketplace you'll be using to figure out what's appropriate; if you end up being a popular seller, you'll be able to raise prices. In the meantime, make sure you're charging more than the cost of the supplies (and don't forget to factor in labor).

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17. Sell Your Baked Goods

Have a knack for baking sweets, cupcakes and other treats? Sell some of your homemade baked goods at local farmers' markets, swap meets, church fairs or other community events.

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18. Get Paid for Your Photography

Another hobby that can easily turn into a paying gig is photography. There are plenty of stock image websites in search of quality, professional-level photos (check out Shutterstock.com or iStockphoto.com). With most sites, you'll need to apply to be a contributor and submit samples. After you're selected, you'll likely get paid a royalty every time your photographs are downloaded.

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19. Be a Living Advertisement

Some people have adorned their houses — and even their faces — with advertising copy to save money on mortgages or school tuition. Granted, you probably shouldn't go to that extreme, but there are companies that will pay you for putting their bumper stickers on your car. You can also make some cash by sharing branded videos or content on your social media through platforms like Wingsplay.

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20. Become a Mystery Shopper

Your job will be secret, but the money you're paid won't be. Try your hand at being a so-called "mystery shopper"; you'll visit businesses, posing as a regular customer, and evaluate the quality of their service. At the end, you'll be asked to submit a report of your findings.

Mystery shoppers are usually reimbursed for the food they ate or merchandise they bought — which they can typically keep or return for cash — and are often also paid a nominal fee on top of all that.

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21. Cut Down Grocery Costs

If most of your monthly paycheck goes to food costs, explore one of the many ways to save money on groceries. For example, there are a number of apps that will reward you with cash for every item you buy at a supermarket.

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22. Be a Tour Guide 

If you know your city like the back of your hand, why not get paid to show people around? Websites like Vayable allow self-made tour guides to post "experiences" they'll lead — say, a farmers' market tour of San Francisco; interested tourists can sign up and pay by credit card, which goes straight to the tour guide's account.

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23. Get Into the Movie Business

It's not that easy to become a famous film star, but it's somewhat easier to find work in movie production as an extra for non-speaking, background roles. Especially if you live near an area with a thriving film industry (like LA or New York City), don't pass up on the opportunity to hang around a film set, get yourself on celluloid and be paid a small stipend for just being there.

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24. Raise Funds

If you're trying to get extra cash for a specific purpose or goal, online fundraising sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter are great ways to generate donations from across the world for any sort of project or personal goal.

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25. Turn Your Spare Room Into a Cash Flow

If you have a spare bedroom or guest house, consider advertising it on home-renting marketplaces like Airbnb. Renting out part of your home could provide a significant second income, and it requires very little effort on your part. You could even just rent out your space when you're out of town, which will land you some extra cash and vetted house sitters.

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