Are you going through a time where money is so tight you have to make each dollar holler before you spend it?
Is your forehead constantly wrinkled from trying to figure out how to make ends meet as you go over the numbers again and again?
Living on a tight budget can be super stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to decrease the stress when funds are limited.
You do have the ability to change your finances to become a blessing in your life rather than a source of constant worry and stress. Yes, it does take time, hard work and some creative measures, but you can do it.
This is a guest post written by Charissa from Cook With a Shoe. She’s got some great tips for surviving the paycheck to paycheck cycle!
I have been in a position where my funds have been pinched for a while now and along the way I have discovered 9 creative secrets to deal with money being tight. These 9 secrets have helped reduce the stress which often comes when living paycheck to paycheck.
1. Remember this is just a season in your life
You do not have to stay in this place of the money pinch forever. With conscious choices and determination you can break the cycle of always living paycheck to paycheck. You are completely able to change your financial outlook and possess what it takes to do so.
Your money choices today will impact how long this season will last in your life and there are ways to ensure tomorrow will be better financially. Start making choices which will enable you to be in control of your money.
2. Set up a monthly budget
There is nothing worse than not knowing how much you have left to spend for the month and wondering if this purchase will cause you to overspend and have to scramble to pay the electricity bill.
Use a budget as a plan for your money, list your income and expenses, telling each dollar where to go. You now have a plumb line to measure your spending up against, which can guide you as you make money decisions and help you reach your financial goals.
3. Cut expenses one at a time
Take one regular bill at a time and see if you can negotiate a better rate. You can also start trimming expense categories; groceries and entertainment are good ones to cut if you can.
Cutting one expense or bill will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by trying to do cut all your expenses at once. Watching your savings add up is a great motivator to look for other areas to save even more money.
4. Focus on paying off only one debt
Pay the minimums on everything else and attack one debt with a vengeance. You will have a focused intensity as you throw every extra dollar you can at this particular debt and you will start to see progress in paying off your debt. Once you have finished paying off the first debt, take what you were paying and put the payment towards the next debt.
You can pay off the smallest debt first or the one with the highest interest rate, whichever makes the most sense for you. Either way, the goal is seeing the amount of debt shrink and whittle away to nothing, providing encouragement to pay off the next one.
5. Look for creative ways to earn more income
Any extra money you can bring in can help move the needle when finances are tight. Think outside the box, can you provide a service by using a skill you have? Side gigs, a job from home or online, making something and selling it, can all be temporary ways to get some extra cash flowing.
For instance, you could take Surveys on your phone in your down time. Check out Survey Junkie which will pay you cash via Paypal and has an A+ rating with the BBB.
You never know, your side gig could even be something you really enjoy doing and you decide to make it your next career.
6. Take some time off from worrying about money
Do something fun with your family and make some memories. You can just be together and enjoy each other without needing to spend a lot of money. Go to the park for a picnic or watch an old movie at home. Find free events to attend around town or have a game night. Make a list of things you do have and be thankful for them.
7. Plan out regular expenses
School shopping and Christmas consistently show up at the same time each year. Take some time before you go out shopping and decide how much you want to spend. Use cash if that will help you to stay within your budgeted amount. You will be more careful about what you buy and what you really need.
Insurance premiums and other annual expenses should be divided up by how many months before the next payment and then included as a line item in your monthly budget. Then when the bill comes due, you will have the money sitting in the bank.
8. Reward your wins
Have you set some financial goals? Your goals should be a challenge to reach, but not impossibly high. When you accomplish each one (or break the goal down into manageable chunks), plan a small reward. Each reward shouldn’t be expensive, but you have worked hard and should taste the win.
9. Make your goals visual
What are you working on? Is it getting out of debt or building your savings? Print out pictures of what you are working towards and have them visible at home, in your wallet, in your car etc. Now you will actually ‘see’ what you are working so hard to obtain and seeing your goals will help you to weigh the choice to spend money, evaluating if it is worth the buy to postpone your goal that much further.
Another way to make your goals visual is to have a drawing you can color in based on how much you are able to pay off debt or save. Seeing the progress you have made will help keep discouragement at bay.
These 9 creative secrets will help you deal with money being tight and will allow you to move through this season by being in control of your money. Once you have a plan and a goal for your money, it will be easier to deal with the temporary pinch of limited funds.
You can successfully manage a tight income with careful planning and creative hard work. Have hope and see how you can change your finances for the better. These 9 secrets will build the foundation to win with your money while finances are tight and after this temporary season is over.
Charissa has written a follow up post with an awesome 10th secret! Click here to read the final secret.
Charissa blogs at Cook With a Shoe, where she shares her story of paying off debt (while paying cash for school) and encourages others to do the same by living on less and following a budget. You can follow her blog on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Google+ or on Twitter.