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You work hard, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

You grind it out each day trying to move past paycheck to paycheck life, and finally begin to accumulate enough money to retire on.

Because one day you’ll be able to travel with no deadline. Or pick up stakes and move wherever you want. Or just go hiking on a Tuesday afternoon.

At least it’s supposed to work that way.

But for most of us, it doesn’t.

Most of us never see our finances begin to take that upward tick. In fact, almost 80% of us live paycheck to paycheck for our entire career, regardless of the level of income.

And those dreams of travel, or lazy Tuesday afternoons?

Well, one of the most expressed regrets of people in later life, is that they were never able to do the things they wanted to do. They spent decades in a cubicle helping someone else’s bottom line. And then time was up.

It’s this very notion that gave birth to Common Cents Hub.

If you’re going through the motions every year, feeling like you’re stuck in neutral, you’re in the right place.

If you’ve been working to pay bills, while the life you really wanted drifts further away each year, you’ll find things here to help you begin to reel it back in.

We help you to stop exchanging your best years working a job you hate for an income that barely pays the bills.

We’ll help you to earn an income on your terms, have less anxiety about money and begin to pursue the life you want.

We help you to put simple things into place that’ll help you rise above paycheck to paycheck life.

Because once you have breathing room, choices begin to open up.

How do I know?

I know because I’ve made some of those mistakes that trap almost 80% of us in paycheck to paycheck mode. I’ve done the 80-mile an hour white-knuckle commute for years, to a job that paid a decent salary, but was otherwise completely unfulfilling. 

My paycheck never sat in my account more than a few days before being doled out to dozens of bills.

There was never enough money to pay for unexpected things like car repairs without charging it on a credit card. And the things we had always enjoyed doing like skiing, were no longer affordable.

And I don’t need to describe how money stress can affect a marriage.

Many of us grumble now and then about our jobs, but I remember the first time it really hit me hard that something needed to change.

I guess you could call it an epiphany.

We were invited to a family wedding in California, and as our plane took off and gained altitude, I watched the tiny cars moving along the highways below.

aerial view of commuting

It usually felt relaxing to sit by the window looking down from several thousand feet feeling detached, at least temporarily, from the world.

This time though, it bothered me. Because I knew that on any other day, I’d be part of that little colony of ants below, racing along my own route week after week.

For what?

I thought of all the times I’d stop for coffee on the way home because I was literally falling asleep at the wheel.

Henry Thoreau said,It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?

For the rest of the flight, and the next day as I watched two people begin their lives together, that thought wouldn’t go away…

What am I busy about?

Why am I racing back and forth to a job I hate, living paycheck to paycheck, with no confidence that I’m working toward something?

What do I want?

In a perfect world, I would have taken that aha moment and started to retool my life the minute we returned home.

But I was part of that 80%. The vast majority of us who stay in a job we’re not really fond of because it pays for the mountain of stuff we keep accumulating. It’s “easier” to remain comfortably numb and keep grinding it out.

Sometimes though, our failure to make a decision means one will be made for us. And in my case, that epiphany would soon turn into a brick to the face. 

A few months after that trip to California, the mother of my children was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia – one of most aggressive forms of leukemia in adults.

I don’t know how someone who follows a healthy diet, works out regularly, and has no family history of cancer suddenly develops leukemia. But I do know that when it happens to your family, all the other big problems in your life suddenly seem minor.

The plan was to use chemotherapy to get the cancer into remission, then do a bone marrow transplant. She fought through two rounds of chemo over the next few months, plus dozens of transfusions, and one clinical trial. But none of it worked.

She passed away five months after her diagnoses, leaving our son, age 10, and daughter, 7.   

Seeing someone close to you lose their life so young makes you question things about your own life. I knew the logistics of our life would need to change, because I had to earn a living, and also be present for my kids.

But oddly enough, I found myself reconsidering basic decisions that someone just beginning their career might make.

  • How can I earn money in a way that provides balance for my family?
  • What few goals do I want to accomplish over the next couple years?
  • Where is my income going each week, and is it helping me to get closer to my goals?
  • How will I manage debt?
  • How can I make the next ten years of life with my kids memorable?

Even though we were forced to carve out a new normal from scratch, I discovered along the way, that every adjustment we made, could have been made years earlier.

I went over bank statements documenting every expense. And it wasn’t hard to see, that making enough money wasn’t our problem. Our problem was letting money flow through our hands without managing it.

Debt was strangling our ability to do things as a family and to save, so I went all in on eliminating it.

With some of the money we saved, I setup an emergency account with an automated, regular deposit. And pretty soon, I saw why my previous attempts to budget never worked.

It became clear to me, that as hopeless as it might seem to rise above paycheck to paycheck life, it can be done. It’s not matter of financial expertise. It’s just deciding what you want, becoming more aware of the flow of your money, and more intentional about your lifestyle.

Over the next few years, through simple adjustments, our finances did stabilize. I was able to max out my retirement contributions, and begin to pay cash for the things we needed. We even managed to travel to Mexico, Florida and California a few times.

So what will you find if you stick around?

  • You’ll find ways to get control of your money and time.
  • You’ll find ways to make extra income either part-time to help pay off debt, or a side hustle that has the potential to develop into a full-time income.
  • You’ll find multiple ways to work from home that provide enough income and more balance in your life.
  • You’ll find ways to easily manage your money that’ll lower your stress and help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 
  • You’ll find ways to make life at home easier, and cheaper. Because saving time and money makes it easier to enjoy life.
  • You’ll find ways to build wealth not through a 6-year MBA, but by developing simple habits.

We feature lots of ways to earn more income, but sometimes the hurdle between paycheck to paycheck life and beginning to build wealth isn’t more money. Sometimes it’s about being more intentional with money.

Time is precious. We get one chance here, and it goes much quicker than we realize. We owe it to ourselves to pursue what we want in life. Nobody’s gonna hand it to us, but we have the power to choose our own path.

If your parents’ lifestyle isn’t for you, there are ways to earn an income that provide a better balance between work and family. We look for options that enable you to work on your terms.

We need to decide what we want. Because once you narrow your focus, you’ll reach that handful of things that’ll make your life complete.