Seventy-eight percent of full time workers say they live paycheck-to-paycheck. One of the biggest concerns I hear expressed by my clients is the fear of running out of money between paychecks. No matter your income level, this cash flow squeeze is also often the cause of rising credit card debt or falling behind on utility bills. As such, you can forget about the Fall getaway to the Adirondacks. Sound familiar? I have been there, and I remember feeling trapped. It’s no fun.

So how do you get your cash flow to be more level, and mitigate the feeling that the next paycheck cannot come soon enough? Here’s one case study.

Marriage and money…and cash flow

A couple wants to buy their first home next year. They neither have a budget, nor know where to start planning. She is the saver, and he is the spender, so naturally, there is tension at times. They don’t always see eye to eye, but they are committed to getting on the same page, especially since they want to start a family soon. They recognize that their annual trip to Montana is not in the cards this year, but it is important to them, and they have prioritized travel as one of their financial goals, with an eye on resuming their annual trip in a couple of years.

Process: I’m here to help my clients live the fullest life possible, and with that in mind, I almost always recommend starting with formulating or revisiting a spending plan. For this case study we decided to take a deep dive into their numbers, and it was important they were forthcoming about priorities and spending habits. This honesty ultimately led to positive changes in their spending patterns, and they were able to make informed decisions about spending behavior, rather than simply facing growing credit card bills each month. The process of understanding their cash flow was imperative to building a spending plan that fit with their lifestyle so that they could save for their first home. After we uncovered the details, this couple was surprised and relieved to learn how much money they could save toward the down payment of their first home, all while starting a family and still doing the things that are important to them.

Whether you want to get organized, or take a dream vacation, this life is your adventure. A little strategic cash flow planning can go a long way to helping you live the fullest life possible.

Kelly Luethje is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Willow Planning Group, LLC. She provides financial education and guidance to help you live life on your terms.