Lots of People Just Getting By

According to a new national survey by CareerBuilder, over 60 percent of today’s workers always or usually live paycheck to paycheck. As reported on the MSN Smart Spending blog, that’s up from 49 percent last year and 43 percent the year before. Even 30 percent of workers earning $100,000 or more say they’re living paycheck to paycheck – up from 21 percent last year.

The simplest, most effective framework I know of for wise money management is to make generosity and saving our two highest priorities and then build our lifestyle decisions on what remains. The much more common approach is to base decisions about where to live and what to drive on a person’s full salary. However, when lifestyle spending comes first, consumer debt and low savings always seem to be part of the package.

A key step toward a give-save-spend life is to pay off all debt other than an affordable mortgage. After waking up to my financial mess many years ago, it took me over four years to pay off my debts. But I can tell you it was worth every ounce of effort. Here’s the best calculator I know of for creating a plan to get out of debt.

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