More people are struggling financially than ever before. It's easy to underestimate just how stressful it is to live day to day when money is tight, but for millions in America, which is becoming just the latest reality. There are steps you can take that will make money management a lot easier. No matter how tight your budget or how much debt you're struggling with, a more frugal approach to living can help a lot more than you might have thought. Living frugally doesn't have to mean selling everything but your children! Here are seven tips for making life easier, even if you're facing long-term budget limitations.
It might seem impossible, but no matter how tight your finances are right now, you should be trying to put as much to one side as possible. Putting money away should always be a priority, and even more so when your budget is seriously limited. The goal is to ensure that you have as much control over your money as possible and having emergency reserves is vital. If you have any income, then try to put around 10% of it away. Do that before you do your shopping or pay your bills. The cash that is put away can be used to help cover you for any money emergencies, and that can help prevent debt issues from becoming worse.
Families can have an easier time with their spending if they all work together. If you have a partner, then you both need to have a clear idea of your money issues. Don't let one person be in sole charge of the finances, because that can lead to arguments (and is a pretty unhealthy relationship dynamic too). Have money goals that you agree on, such as vacations or business ideas. Both people in the relationship must be honest about their money situation and their spending habits. The more that you discuss your finances, the easier it will be to agree on where the money is being spent.
This can save more money than you think. If you have a dependence on takeaways and UberEATS, then it's time to take a more considered approach to your food. More people than ever are using meal planning to cut down on how much they spend or to ensure that they are getting healthy meals regularly. However, you need to start planning your meals right down to the cent. You're going to need to know exactly how much every meal that you plan on having this week is going to cost. Make a shopping list and take an hour every week to create the meal plan that best works for you and your household. There are lots of tips to prevent overspending during the weekly shop, so take advantage of them!
One of the most significant and most underappreciated elements of daily living with financial constraints is that it can get very boring. If you've eaten frugally for a week, you'll start to resent paying for a night at the cinema that costs the same that you spend on a week's worth of meals. Unfortunately, boredom is also extremely likely to make you want to spend money, just for that brief respite. The good news is there are plenty of activities that you can do that will get you out of the house or keep you entertained without spending a cent. Think creatively and look at local community events like hikes or free classes. You could even spend your time starting an online business!
When you find that you're struggling financially, there's a good chance that it is being caused by debt. Debt is an enormous problem in America but ignoring it and hoping that it goes away is not a practical option. If you want to turn your finances around, then you need to take a more considered approach to what you owe, how much you owe, and who you owe. Don't assume that your debt is too large to face because you'll find that doing some research can make it much easier to find a leading provider of debt assistance that can help you tackle what you owe more practically. If you want inspiration, think about how much you spend right now on paying off debts and what you could be using that money for if those repayments could be reduced.
Look at your bank statements and work out exactly where every dollar is going. It can be quite eye-opening to realize that a large chunk of your income is continuously going out of your bank account, often without you even noticing or registering it. Living frugally means knowing where all of your cash is going and cutting down on those unnecessary luxuries. As much as you might miss it, getting rid of your streaming services can easily pay for more than a few meals, especially if you have more than one service that you pay for every month. Don't panic about not having anything to watch, and head to your local library. DVDs can be borrowed just as easily as books, and they're usually free as well.
Starting a business has never been easier; you don't need a huge cash investment these days either. If you have a skill or you can write in plain English, then you can potentially make money online. Look at eCommerce businesses on Shopify or BigCommerce, and start thinking about what you can sell. Side hustles can work to keep your brain active, but they can very easily become a decent stream of revenue if you commit time to them. There are plenty of side hustle options to consider these days, so find one that matches your skill sets or your interests. You might end up having an entirely new and lucrative career out of something intended to just tide you over.
It's not easy to live on a budget, especially if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. With the right attitude and the right approach, you can quickly find that living more frugally and tackling what you owe can start meaning improvements to your finances. It can be hard work to cope when your outgoings outweigh your incomings, but by being more proactive, you could turn your finances around much more easily than you might have thought.