Did you get a shock when you checked your bank balance this month? If your expenses have crept up on you and you’re now in a tight spot trying to stretch your budget until next payday, you’re not alone. An estimated 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Here are five strategies to make your money last until payday.
The average household has credit card debt of over $4000, which reflects how easy it is to turn to credit when money is tight. But living on borrowed money can be expensive if you can’t pay it back before the interest starts to add up. Rather than swiping your card to cover the gap, do some research into cash loans, which often have lower interest rates and more flexible payment terms. Just make sure that you only borrow what you need to get through the month, or you could find yourself with yet another monthly bill to pay.
Cut out take away
Most of us are guilty of buying a quick lunch when we forgot to pack our own, indulging in an iced white chocolate mocha or two to get through the workday, and ordering pizza or Chinese takeaway because we’re too tired to organize dinner. If you’re on a tight budget this month, implement a total ban on takeaway food of all descriptions. Try keeping a stock of apples, canned tuna, and 2-minute noodles at your desk in case you forget to bring lunch and snacks from home, and make your coffee at work or before you leave the house. You will be amazed at how much you can save with a bit of preplanning.
Eat seasonal produce
With the global availability of food, at least half the population are unaware of which fruit and vegetables are currently in season. Cold storage units and international shipping allow us to eat blueberries or bananas all year round if we like. However, eating seasonal produce is cheaper, supports the local economy, and helps the environment by reducing food miles. Use this budget blip as the motivation to buy seasonal fruit and veg, and you will find that it reduces your grocery bill and will last longer in the fridge, which minimizes food waste.
Walk or bike
Save on gas money and parking this month by walking or riding your bike for quick trips. For longer commutes, investigate whether you could ride-share with a friend or colleague. Taking turns driving should halve your car usage expenses for the month, leaving this money to be funneled towards paying off bills. If you can walk or ride to work, you might find that you no longer need your gym membership, saving even more cash!
Make a plan
Now might be an excellent time to take a look at your bills and expenses to figure out whether there is any fat to trim. With the availability of online bank accounts with no fees, lots of families find it helpful to separate their money into different buckets for bills, day-to-day living expenses, saving, and spending. Others prefer to use an excel spreadsheet to break down and analyze where each penny goes over the month. There are also budgeting apps available to help you track your spending. Whatever method you choose, having a plan is likely to help you cover off all the essentials without being caught short.
Tighten your belt this month and make it a challenge to see how little you need to get by!