(BPT) - Feel like your paycheck is gone before your next payday? You're not alone. A 2020 survey, “Getting Paid in America,” revealed that 2 out of 3 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
Not only is this stressful and frustrating, it can cause you to have fewer choices for managing your money and be more expensive for you in the long run. Nearly 12 percent of U.S. households use expensive methods like money orders, check cashers and bill pay services to access the money they earn, which can lead to a downward spiral of further expense and debt. And for those who borrow money to hold them over, it may take about five months to pay off loans, costing an average of $520 in additional financing charges.
The good news? There are hacks that can help you stretch your dollar further, from one paycheck to the next.
1. Go digital
If you’re not getting what you need from your current bank or are looking to bank for the first time, you should know that digital banking these days is a safe, accessible and affordable option.
GO2bank is an example of a fully digital bank that can help you get control of your finances right from your mobile phone. It offers all kinds of convenient tools to help you save money, so you won’t have to rely on check-cashing services or payday lenders — which charge high fees or interest rates that take a big bite out of your hard-earned paycheck.
To download the app, visit the Apple App Store or Google Android App Store, or go to www.GO2bank.com.
2. Direct deposit = quick access to pay
Did you know you can actually access your paycheck a day or two early? When you’ve got bills due or need groceries before your paycheck hits your bank, you need your money quicker. Options like payday loans can end up costing you hundreds in fees and even cashing your paycheck can delay your payday even further.
With direct deposit of your paycheck to GO2bank, you don’t have to wait too long, as you can access your paychecks up to two days early or government benefits up to four days early. And should you need cash quick, you'll also have access to thousands of fee-free ATMs to withdraw from.
3. Plan ahead to avoid fees
First, get a clear picture of where your money is going each month — and when. On a calendar, map out what bills are due when, when subscriptions like Netflix will charge you, and when you’ll be paid.
If one part of the month contains most of the due dates, call your creditor to ask if you can move the due date, easing the strain on that pay period. If you can get bills paid on time, that means fewer late fees — and a better credit score in your future.
GO2bank also offers overdraft protection (up to $200). To get started, just set up your eligible payroll/benefits direct deposits and opt in for overdraft protection — GO2bank will automatically cover purchase transactions that exceed your available balance.
4. Build savings little by little
Since there’s no way to be ready for every unexpected bill or expense, you'll have more peace of mind if you start building an emergency fund right away. Setting aside even a small amount each pay period will add up over time. You’ll thank yourself when an emergency doesn’t plunge you into debt.
To make your savings go farther, GO2bank offers a high-yield savings rate at 10X the national average and cash back rewards up to 7 percent when you buy e-gift cards from popular retailers in the app you may already be shopping at.
5. Start safely building and improving credit
Having a higher credit score makes it easier and less expensive to borrow money when you need to — such as for a car loan or home mortgage. Building better credit takes time, but there are ways to do so today that will open the door to better options tomorrow. GO2bank makes this option available to you regardless of credit history with its Secured Credit Card with no credit check or annual fee.
Taking these steps may help you get to your next payday with a lot less stress. A little planning and the right tools can go a long way in helping you improve your financial well-being for the future.
 How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services (2020, October 19)
 Direct deposit early availability depends on timing of payor’s payment instructions and fraud prevention restrictions may apply. As such, the availability or timing of early direct deposit may vary from pay period to pay period. The name and Social Security number on file with your employer or benefits provider must match your GO2bank account exactly or we will decline your deposit.
 Fee-free ATM access applies to in-network ATMs only. For out-of-network ATMS and bank teller withdrawals, a $3.00 fee will apply, plus any additional fee charged by the ATM operator in addition to our fees.
 A $15 fee may apply to each eligible purchase transaction that brings your account negative. Opt in required. Balance must be brought to at least $0 within 24 hours of authorization of the first transaction that overdraws your account to avoid the fee. We require immediate payment of each overdraft and overdraft fee. Overdrafts are paid at our discretion and we do not guarantee that we will authorize and pay any transaction. Learn more about Overdraft Protection (PDF).
 Interest paid quarterly on the average daily balance of savings during the quarter up to a $5,000 balance and if the account is in good standing. 1% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of January 2021. APY may change before or after you open an account. See Deposit Account Agreement (PDF) for terms and conditions. The average national savings account interest rate of 0.05% is determined by the FDIC as of 10/23/20. National rates are calculated based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Savings account rates are based on the $2,500 product tier of insured depository institutions for which data is available. Visit https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/ to learn more.
 Available only to existing GO2bank accountholders with direct deposits totaling at least $100 in the past 30 days. Eligibility criteria applies. Other fees apply.