Are you not quite making it paycheck-to-paycheck? If the only thing in your pockets is lint and the late fees are piling up, you must change your habits. Study up on these 11 ways to change your finances if you’re barely scraping by.
1. Make a Budget. Seriously. You Need to Do This.
If you have financial anxiety, this may not be what you want to hear. It’s what everyone will tell you, however. You need to see where your money is going. To do that, you need to know what bills you have and how much of your income is going to each of them. Separate your expenses into categories to see what areas you spend the most.
2. Review Your Past Month’s Spending
Part of making a budget will be to look at your checking account and see what you spent your money on. If you haven’t been budgeting, you may be surprised you’ve spent quite a bit on fast food or other treats.
3. Pay Bills on Time
Once you know what bills you must pay, you should take note of the due dates and try your best to pay them on time. If you don’t want to fall behind on payments, you should pay your rent, utilities, and other important bills first. Late fees can add up quickly and put you further behind.
4. Cut Expenses
Once you have a budget, you can look for ways to save money and start living cheaply. For example, cutting back could mean canceling subscriptions, going out less, or finding ways to save on food. Cutting costs can also mean bigger things, like paying less rent (by moving or “house hacking”), finding cheaper ways to get around (like selling your car or taking the bus), or getting rid of some big bills.
5. Establish an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is crucial to help you pay for things coming out of the blue. Even if you can only save a small amount each month, getting started on an emergency fund is important.
Remember that it takes time and work to improve your cash situation. Make a plan and start with small steps to help you reach your goals.
6. Plan Ahead and Save
Don’t wait until your gas gauge is on E before you fill up – see who has the lowest gas and give yourself time to find the best deal. Comparison shopping can save money in many areas, from groceries to lawnmowers. Instead of shopping on big online retailers for clothes or shoes, check your local thrift shops and consignment stores.
7. Journal Your New Budget
Whether you use a notebook, app, or software, you must somehow keep track of your expenses and progress. This way, you can see how you’re doing and adjust accordingly. Focus on keeping track of every cent you spend by separating rent, food, clothes, and utilities into categories.
8. Find Additional Income
If your current budget doesn’t work or you’re barely getting by, you might need to work more hours, get a second job, or look for a new job that pays more. Often work can be found that pays more, but it is not very appealing. You could sell or pawn items. You could also try to find a “side hustle,” but remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Short-term loans like payday loans are terrible and will get you deeper into debt.
9. Tackle Debt Strategically
If you have good credit, ask your card company for an interest reduction. Pay off your smallest bills and then use the extra money from the paid-off bills to go toward the next-biggest bill – this is the “snowball” method. Be aware of fees, penalties, and other tacked-on amounts, which can add up.
10. Eat at Home
People in the United States spend 10 percent of their income on fast food. That adds up quicker than you think. Take some time to put together a meal plan, eat a snack before you go to the grocery store so you don’t shop hungry, and keep snacks on hand so those fast food restaurants don’t tempt you.
11. Find Free Entertainment
In the days of streaming services, we pay for many different services to watch movies and TV and listen to music. Check your local library for the titles you want to watch and listen to. The library is free and often has licenses to eBooks and streaming on its website. See what free live music is being held in your area. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you might have a good time!
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.