When money gets tight we can quickly feel helpless but there are many things you can do right away to lighten the load. From evaluating your current bills to packing lunches there is an option that will help your budget right now!
1. Get out your calendar and plan, plan, plan!
Here is what helps me the most! Based upon when you get paid, whether it is every week or every two weeks, write down which bills need paid with which paycheck. Then figure out what is left over to do grocery shopping , fill the gas tank or add to savings. This way you will not run into paying too many bills within one pay period or even skipping one and accidentally spending that money.
2. Pay Your Car Insurance In Full.
If you have the funds on hand to pay your car insurance in full you will not only knock out a monthly bill but you will save at least a couple hundred dollars throughout the year! Most insurance companies will give you a better rate when paying all at once. I did this for a few years when my kids were babies to help myself manage the month to month budget. Also keep in mind you may want to bundle your insurance, ie. Homeowners + Auto.
3. Eat Out Less
I know that this is easier said than done. Our family struggles with this at times too. It can be easy to head out to fast food or a good restaurant after a busy day but those trips add up significantly. Try to at least cut back. For example maybe only eat out lunches on the weekend. This way a lunch meal will be cheaper and it will only mean eating out twice in a week. Also if both parents are working, brainstorm as a family some items that would make eating at home more exciting. For my family sometimes making wraps instead of the regular sandwich is a refreshing change. On the weekends if we are trying to eat in, we will do something different like making hot panini sandwiches or homemade pizza bread. This way you save money but still enjoy your meal.
4. Turn Down The Thermostat, Turn Off The Lights
Whether it is the Air Conditioning Or Heating, we can all stand it a few degrees the other direction. In the winter add slippers and a sweatshirt and in the summer wear tank tops and use house fans to help pull in a breeze. Another thing is to make sure you turn off the lights or TV’s in the rooms that you are not going to be in. In addition keep your appliances plugged into a power strip. That way you can turn off the power strip when it’s not in use. Keep in mind that you can also unplug those items that are not needed. This is a savings that will definitely add up. Your power company may also offer a budget pay system where you pay the same amount each month. They will come up with an average of your last few months of service. This will help on those super cold or hot months when the electric bill can get sky high. If you have gas or oil heat, this may be an option for you as well.
5. Use The Envelope System For Your Cash!
Each payday after paying the bills that are due, label some envelopes for the categories for which you usually find yourself doing the most spending. For example Shopping, Groceries, Eating Out, Vacation, Savings etc. This will limit your spending and make you more aware of how and when you want to spend your money. It forces you to use cash and that way when you are out of money you are done spending. This is a good system especially if you find yourself spending more than you usually plan.
6. Refinance Your House Or Car
Refinancing can be very beneficial to your budget. Maybe your house has earned a good amount of equity and you would like to use it to pay off your car or other bills. Maybe interest rates are significantly lower now than they were at the time of purchase. There are many good reasons to take advantage of a refinance. Call you lender today and see what your options are.
7. Call Your Credit Card Companies And Ask For Lower Rates
Grab your monthly credit card statements and call customer service to ask for a lower interest rate. Chances are if you have been a card holder for a long period of time and have a good history of paying on time, they may cut you a break and lower your interest rate. This can cut down the full amount that you will eventually be paying back as well as maybe lowering your monthly payments.
8. Change Billing Dates – Have Them Due on a Day of the Month That works for you!
Sometimes your bills can line up badly throughout the month. Say your car payment and your mortgage is due on the same date. This may create some anxiety when trying to pay your bills on time. Did you know that for most bills you can request a different due date?! Yes! I have done this a few times when things were not lining up correctly for our budget. Give it a try!
9. Look Again At Your Cable Or Cell Phone Bill
Sometimes we are signed up to pay for services we are not even using. Be sure to look thoroughly through your cell phone or cable bills. You may even want to down grade based on the lack of use.
10. Cancel Subscriptions or Memberships that aren’t being used
Occasionally we sign up for gym memberships or magazine subscriptions that we end up not using after a while. Evaluate if it is something you really need and are making use of. If not make a call and cancel. No use in wasting money.
11. Pack Lunches!
We save a lot of money packing lunches for school and work through the week. I put together lunches for my husband and kids each weekday with the exception of Friday’s. This way you can enjoy a non packed lunch one day a week but still save money.
12. Consider Moving
Maybe the area you live in has a higher cost of living. Is there a nearby town that has cheaper rent or housing prices? A lot of people commute to work. The days of living and working in the same town are few and far between when you are worried about getting the most out of your living expenses. And you may need to work in a higher income bracket in order to pull in more money. It’s worth taking a look at and doing the research.