Starting a new job is supposed to be an exciting moment. You get to meet new people, earn some money, and learn new skills. But if you’re starting a new job with no money (or very little money) in the bank, that excitement can quickly turn to anxiety.
And if that’s the situation you’re currently in, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I am going to go over 5 practical steps to help you navigate your way through to your first paycheck, and make ends meet.
Though, before we get started, I want to make something clear; I’m not going to make false promises and tell you this will be easy, or stress-free. Truthfully, when you have no money in the bank, bills to pay, and especially if you have a family to feed, the time between your first day of work and your first paycheck is going to be tough.
The good news is that it won’t last forever. And if you are willing to get gritty, look this challenge in the eye, and face it with tenacity, you will make it through. Just remember, eventually, you will receive that first paycheck, and this stressful time will be a thing of the past.
Ok, are you ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1. Do The Math
Whether you are starting a job with no money, or just trying to get ahead of your next paycheck, one of the first things you should do is sit down with a calculator and do the financial math. If you’re a little more of a numbers nerd (like me), you might opt for a spreadsheet. But whatever you decide, you need to get every cent of your financial life on paper.
You see, oftentimes, when it comes to personal finance, we humans are prone to let our emotions take over. And when that happens, we make rash decisions based on what we “think” about our situation, as opposed to making decisions based on what the numbers tell us. And trust me, emotional financial decisions are almost never good.
In fact, by doing the math, you might actually find that your situation isn’t as bad as you initially thought. You’d be surprised how often this happens.
Anyway, before you take another step, I want you to write down every cent that you have to your name. I’m talking about any money you have in your savings or checking account, any money in your wallet, and any other spare change you might have under your sofa cushion–everything.
Then, I want you to lay out every single expense you are going to have to pay between now and your first paycheck at your new job. Do you have to pay rent? Write it down. Will you have to pay your utility bills? Write them all down. Seriously, jot down every single expense you can think of, and then add up the total.
Finally, I want you to subtract your expenses from the total amount of money you have to your name.
At this point, if your original estimations were correct, you might end up with a negative number. But now’s not the time to get emotional. This is just math, and we are about to move on to step 2.
Step 2. Get On A Written Budget
Ok, now that you know exactly how much money you have to work with, as well as the total amount of expenses you are going to have to pay, it’s time for you to lay everything out in a written budget.
Now, I realize that many people associate budgeting with some fairly negative feelings, but, once again, this is not the time to get emotional.
Honestly, when you start a job with no money in the bank, getting on a strict budget is your best bet to make sure everything goes according to plan.
Here at Be The Budget, we recommend zero-based budgeting, which is simply the process of planning how you will spend every dollar of your income until you are left with $0.00.
If you’re unfamiliar with the process, allow me to give you a brief overview:
- Write down your income. In this case, I want you to write down the total amount of money you have to make it until your first paycheck. If you really don’t have any money, then I still want you to write down a zero. (We’ll focus on that in Step 3.)
- Write down every expense you will have to pay from now until your first paycheck, and subtract it from your total amount of income (or money in the bank as the case may be).
- Eliminate as many expenses as you possibly can–and don’t be afraid to get pretty extreme here. Seriously, the more spending you are willing to cut in this stage, the easier it will be for you to scrap your way through until your first paycheck from your new job.
- Track every cent you spend by logging it into your budget every night. This will help you stay on the best track possible, and keep your spending to an absolute minimum.
To be clear, this might feel a lot like step one, but there is a difference between doing the math, and creating a budget. You see, when you create a budget, you are developing a plan for your future behavior, whereas, when you do the math, you are simply assessing the current situation.
So, whether you like the idea of a budget or not, go create one, and commit to it. When you start a job with no money, you don’t have the luxury of guessing your way through your financial life. Living on a budget will allow you to be incredibly effective with every dollar you have.
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Step 3. Look For Ways To Earn Some Cash
If you’re really starting a job with no money, and I mean a big fat $0 in your bank account, then the most essential thing you can do is earn some extra money, and fast!
Now, I realize that you just got a new job, and I don’t want you to put that at risk in any shape or form. However, you also can’t just skip paying your bills for the next couple weeks. Additionally, if you want to put some food on the table, you’re going to need to pay for it.
So, with all that in mind, I recommend looking for some odd jobs around your town when you aren’t working at your new job. I’m talking about helping somebody move on a Saturday, mowing lawns on the weekends, teaching music lessons, helping a family member with some landscaping work–anything you can find that will allow you to do some work in exchange for immediate cash.
This isn’t the time for side hustles that take a long time to earn money. This isn’t even the time for a part-time job, because that will put you right back in the same situation.
What you need is cold, hard cash.
So, talk to your friends, family and neighbors. You never know what kind of odd jobs you might drum-up.
Step 4. Stay Away From Credit Cards And Debt
I can’t stress this point enough. When you are strapped for cash, and you need to bridge a gap in your financial life, it can be tempting to just throw all your expenses on a credit card. But seriously, it is in your best interest to avoid this at all costs!
If you decide to put all your expenses on a credit card, all you are doing is stealing from your first paycheck. Beyond that, you are taking on the risk of high-interest debt, when you don’t have the money to pay for it.
This is a very slippery slope that can lead to long-term financial trouble.
So, please, please, please, do your best to stay away from debt of any kind–especially credit cards. Debt is a short-term solution with long-term consequences.
- The Dangers Of Debt: 13 Reasons You Should Avoid It At All Costs
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- How To Get Out Of Debt Fast (Even On A Low Income)
Step 5. Learn From It
When it comes to personal finance, or really any area of life, I truly believe that the best thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and struggles. (Trust me, I have made a ton of financial mistakes throughout my life that I will never make again.)
Therefore, after starting a job with no money, the final thing I want to recommend is that you develop a plan, and take steps to make sure this never happens to you again.
In other words, from the moment you receive your first paycheck, you should start putting money towards an emergency fund. This is one of the most important financial moves you can make, and the sooner you do it, the easier your life will be.
I mean, can you imagine how much easier your current situation would be if you had six months worth of expenses just sitting in savings? In all honesty, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article right now.
Starting a new job with no money in the bank can be incredibly stressful. That said, before you let your emotions get the better of you (as we’re all known to do from time to time), you should:
- Do the math
- Get on a written budget
- Look for ways to earn some cash
- Stay away from credit cards and debt
- Learn from it
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