Sometimes when things seem to be going smoothly, things can take a turn for the worse.
A single event can turn your life upside down.
One day you’re living comfortably with little worry about money and the next you are panicking about where you’re going to find money for next month’s bills or how you’ll save money that’s enough to sustain your monthly lifestyle.
These times will really test your true character, but they will also test your frugality. With any luck you will have savings to delve into, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. So what do you do if you don’t have that safety net? And how do you go about frugal living?
Reducing Regular Monthly Expenses
Right away you need to take a close look at where you are spending money each month. It may be easiest to start with the regular monthly expenses, such as electricity, water, gas, cable tv, laundry and dryer, fees from bank accounts you may own, cell phone bills, etc. Chances are you can find ways to cut spending on many of those things by downgrading your monthly plans. If unsure, give the company a call and ask how they can help out. Some may even have a leniency period for when people are going through such periods.
It is much better to make arrangement beforehand rather than just not paying those bills when they do show up. If at all possible, you want to avoid the situation from affecting your credit.
Cutting Back On Food Spending
Money spent on food gets its own category because it is usually the area where people can cut back on spending the most. First of all, you need to accept that dining out is just not an option for now. You may try to justify that your fast food meal is cheaper than what you can cook at home, but that is very rarely the case.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you should be only eating macaroni & cheese or instant noodles. You might want to mix those options into your diet more for now though. Really, there are lots of different meals that can be cooked at home for less than $5 per serving. There are many blogs dedicated specifically to low priced home cooking and it is mostly fairly healthy meals.
Cutting back on food spending also means paying more attention to prices at grocery stores. Try to get items on sale and use the generic brands. Avoid the more expensive foods until you can ride out the hardship. There are always cheap food alternatives out there that can satisfy your cravings.
Most people seem to have a tough time giving up all the possessions they accumulate over time. Even if it is just sitting in their closet untouched for months, they feel a sense of attachment to that possession.
The common excuse to not selling those items is that they won’t get back anywhere close to what they paid. That shouldn’t matter when you don’t even really need that item though. The cash you can get for it will go a long ways towards paying your bills during a hardship.
So get on craigslist or ebay and sell your unnecessary cds, video games, clothing, jewelry and household items. Even though you no longer use those possessions, there may be someone out there willing to pay top dollar.
Developing Side Income
To dig yourself out of that hole filled with debt and hardship, cutting spending may not be enough. To get that foothold you need, it might be necessary to find a way to bring in extra income.
Many people take to the internet to develop side income streams, but most of those strategies will not develop fast enough to truly get you out of your hardship. If you’ve got writing or design skills, you could try to land some freelance gigs. Or you could use online classified sites like craigslist to land random side income opportunities.
Depending on your skill set, you might be better suited to just take on a part time job in the evenings. Some people take a 2nd job as a server in a restaurant or deliver pizzas. Even something like delivering newspapers can add a chunk of money to help you get by until you get back on your feet.
Budgeting To Save Further
If the above strategies are not enough for your circumstances, you might need to dig a little deeper into your spending to trim the fat. Making a budget can be very helpful to your goals. Try an online budgeting software such as Mint to record all of your spending. Once it’s all split up into categories you can get a much better idea of where you might be spending too much money.
For some people they might be spending too much on entertainment. Some can’t live without cable TV while some can’ resist watching the season’s baseball game. If your hardship is particularly tough, that may be something you have to drastically scale back on. Instead find inexpensive entertainment that can keep your happy.
If clothes shopping is your vice, try to limit that as much as possible. When you do need clothes, try the thrift stores or check ebay for good deals.
The small purchases like coffee can add up a lot too. So why not drink home brewed coffee? It’s a cheaper alternative to coffee shop drinks. Not only did you satisfy your love for coffee, you are also one step closer to your financial goals.
Smart and frugal living is not easy, especially when you’re used to buying what you want. However, never give. It might be hard at first but you’ll get there eventually. There are plenty of fun and great ideas you can follow to help you get started on your goals. Remember, spend only on what you need and try to avoid unnecessary splurging. If you follow these, you’ll be out of that hole in no time.
What kind of strategies would you use if you were struck with a financial hardship? Is your main focus saving money on expenses or earning more income?