Living paycheck to paycheck gets old — really fast. When the week outlasts your money, you constantly have to worry about every dollar. An unexpected expense can be devastating. You may find yourself putting ordinary expenses, like gas for the car and groceries, on credit. By the time the next paycheck rolls around, you end up spending more than you intended because you need so many things.

Is it even possible to stop? Can you really get ahead and put a little money in the bank? Experts say that it’s possible using these tips:

  1. Write a budget. Having an actual budget in front of you helps you see where your money is going and understand the flow of money in your household.
  2. Find areas to reduce your expenses. That may mean dropping your cable, skipping the morning Starbucks run or packing your lunch. Even small changes can help.
  3. Put away something each paycheck. Even a few dollars each week can help you start building a financial safety net that will cover emergencies and help you navigate your expenses better.
  4. Stop using your credit cards. Put a freeze on them, cut them up or hide them somewhere hard to access, if that’s what it takes. You don’t want to dig a deeper financial hole.
  5. When you get extra money, bank it. If you get bonuses or have picked up a side-gig, bank the money. Don’t start making it part of the funds you use each month, or you’ll quickly find ways to spend it. It’s easy to confuse wants with needs when the money is there.

These tips can help, but it’s important to remember that you can’t really get ahead if your bills are overwhelming. If you’ve reached the point where it’s all you can do to make the minimum payments on your bills and you’re drowning in debt, it may be time to file for bankruptcy. That can help you get the fresh start that you need. An experienced attorney can provide you with more information on the ins and outs of filing bankruptcy.