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I get a lot of comments and messages on Instagram; and a few of them just break my little heart!
These messages are from those that feel they have done every single thing they can think of to find extra money in their budget, but there is just nothing left to find. These people have cut ALL unnecessary spending, only paying the bare minimum to live and they STILL can’t find any extra money in the budget.
If you can relate to this in any way; I want you to know that I hear you. Financial stress is one of the scariest and hardest things to go through. This article is for you.
1. Make a Budget
If you don’t already have a budget, make one! This step seems obvious, but it is skipped far to often! It’s easy to assume your spending is minimal enough that a budget won’t change anything; I know this, because I use to be one of those people! I’m here to tell you that your budget is EVERYTHING! Even if you think your spending is already under control, I can guarantee you will spend left if you have a budget.
You can use pen or paper for your budget, feel free to download my free printable below. Or, I love the app You Need a Budget! Check out this article for more info about budgeting.
2. Check Your Budget ONE MORE TIME
I know that you have looked through that budget a million times this week. I know that you have calculated and recalculated how to reduce your expenses. But, I want you to look one more time.
When we are desperate enough, we are usually able to find a way to make it work!
Do you have subscriptions you can cancel? Many people are willing to cut out the cable, but leave the Netflix. If you need to find some extra money; now is the time to cut out all subscriptions; including Netflix, Hulu, etc. Instead, rent movies from the library for free, or spend your time doing something other than watching television.
In today’s day and age, it feels difficult to function without our smart phones. I know a lady who does it though! She has a cheap flip phone, and a cheaper phone bill because of it! Could you consider getting rid of that smart phone and huge monthly data plan? Or, if that feels like to much, perhaps lower the data plan?
A good alternative is to deactivate your Smart Phone, getting rid of all data and phone capabilities. You will then be able to use free wifi to access the apps.
If you truly feel that you MUST have a smart phone (no judgement, I totally feel that way!), consider getting rid of your internet service.
If you’re not streaming movies, and you have internet available on your phone; this can be a great solution to get an extra $50 a month.
My husband and I went without internet for about 9 months, and it was hard, but we got use to it. I got in the habit of taking my laptop to the library about once a week to get all of my internet necessities done, and we made it work!
I get it. You’ve got places to go and things to do; and unfortunately fuel is expensive.
I’m not going to suggest you stay home and never go anywhere (I mean, you’ve gotta earn a living right?).
What I am going to suggest is to look at ways to consolidate your driving. Consider shopping at a store closer to you, or buying online instead (use free shipping!). Plan your errands for only once a week, and try to only drive to one area and get everything done in just that area.
I was talking to a friend a few years ago, who was very poor, and I mentioned to her about a free kids playground she could take her kids to (it was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away). She told me that fuel in her car is just to expensive, she tries to not drive that far away. It was such a good example to me, and I have been more mindful of unnecessary driving habits ever since.
Adjust the Temp
Turn your house thermostat down a few degrees in the winter, and up a few degrees in the summer. Research shows that you can save at least 1% for each degree change. We shoot for 68 degrees in the winter months and 78 degrees in the summer, we aren’t always perfect at this, but it’s what we try for!
Also, consider adjusting the thermostat while you are sleeping, or if you will be gone for work all day. It doesn’t take long for the temp to get back to normal, and you will begin to see your bill decrease.
Groceries are one of the biggest expenses in most budgets; food is expensive! But, it’s an area that can always be improved, if you are willing to put forth the work! Here are a few ways I have been able to spend less on groceries:
- Make a meal plan every week.
- Cook from scratch. If time is an issue, consider spending one day a week cooking a few meals to keep in the fridge or freezer to eat throughout the week. Here are a few of my favorite frugal recipes: Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe, Light and Fluffy Pancake Recipe, Homemade Graham Cracker Recipe
- Buy in bulk. I always buy my meat in bulk, and then freeze it in dinner sized portions. This requires some time and effort, but can be a big money saver!
- Use the Flipp app to browse the weekly deals and only buy what’s on sale. Plan your weekly meals around the sale prices!
- Search Pinterest for frugal recipe ideas, beans and rice both very cheap and versatile!
- Have a Pantry Challenge, to stretch yourself to save more and spend less.
- Use Cashback apps to earn a few extra dollars.
3. Pay with Cash
There is something so much more difficult about seeing your hard earned cash leave your wallet, as opposed to simply swiping a card. Learn more about putting together cash envelopes in my article; The Envelope Money System: A Beginners Guide.
If you are feeling a little hesitant to use cash envelopes, consider trying them for one week. If you can see a difference in that week, try it for another week. Baby steps!
4. Negotiate Your Bills
Calling up business and asking them to give you a lower rate is not easy! But, many times it can be so very worth it! I always remind myself, “It never hurts to ask. The worst thing they could say is no, so why not try.”
Many of your bills are just non-negotiable (like your mortgage), but there are some companies worth calling and asking for a cheaper rate. You will see the most success with your:
- Cable TV Service
- Cell Phone Provider
- Medical Bills
- Internet Provider
- Insurance Premiums
Keep in mind these tips during the negotiation:
- Know your competitors prices, and don’t be afraid to mention them during the phone call
- If you’ve been a long time customer, mention it!
- Be polite, but firm in your request.
- Don’t be afraid to ask multiple times. You’ll be on the phone with different people each time, chances are you’ll get someone who will listen to you eventually.
- Threaten to leave as a customer; this is when they really begin to listen.
5. Increase Your Income
If you still can’t find extra money in your budget, it is time to consider increasing your income. These can be done a few different ways.
Ask for a Raise
Prepare a statement to bring to your boss. Explain why you are an asset to the company, and show how you have helped the company be successful and earn money.
It’s not easy to change jobs. Starting back at square one, getting out of your comfort zone, and having to relearn everything isn’t fun for anyone. But, look at the big picture. If it will bring you closer to your financial goals, than it is probably worth the switch.
Find a Side Hustle
A Side Hustle is a job you can work in addition to the job you already have. Anyone and everyone can have a side hustle, and I know many people who have multiple side hustles! I LOVE side hustling!
If you’re needing some side hustle ideas check out the article, 12 Legit Side Hustles for Stay at Home Moms, for a few ideas. Many of these side hustles are for ANYONE, not just stay at home moms!
Sell the Unnecessary
Selling items in your home won’t be a steady stream of income, but it can help alleviate a few financial stresses. If you don’t think you have anything in your house to sell check out my article; 10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money. I really think we all have at least a few things in our homes we could sell.
If you are truly desperate for more cash, consider downsizing your home and car. If you have a car payment, sell that vehicle and buy a cheaper one with cash. I know it’s not the “cool” thing to do, but being cool just doesn’t matter when it comes to money.
Reduce your rent or mortgage by selling your home and moving to something smaller, more affordable. Again, this will be so difficult! But, your future self will thank you!
I believe whole heartedly that when there is a WILL, there is a WAY. You can do this! Find a support system to help you through. I’m always an email away!
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