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Life can feel very stressful when money is tight. Plenty of people lose sleep over their financial situation, and some even feel trapped in a downward spiral. You are not stuck. You can get your financial situation under control. Below are five ways to cope when money is tight:
- Prioritize Debt
The financial rule of thumb is that the total amount of your debt should be 20% or less of your income. Sadly, few people are even aware of the total amount of debt they have, because it comes in many forms such as high-interest credit cards and low/no interest small cash loans. Even when money is tight, you need to consistently work to reduce your debt. The best way to maximize your debt repayment dollars is to prioritize your debt and pay off highest-interest debts first while paying only the minimum on lower interest debts.
- Maximize Food Dollars
Eating out is undoubtedly convenient, but even the dollar menu at fast food restaurants can quickly add up to a price two to three times it would cost you to make the same meal at home. The quickest way to maximize your food dollars immediately is to minimize the number of times you eat out a week, including work lunches. Once you have adapted your mind to preparing meals at home, your next step is to consider how to save money on groceries.
- Minimize Entertainment Expenses
One mistake many people make when money is tight is foregoing entertainment. That is not necessary. Instead of slashing entertainment from your budget, consider changing your mindset to be a little more creative about what you do. Utilize your internet skills and see what free entertainment is happening in your city. If you have children, create a family challenge to see who can come up with the best idea that is also the lowest cost.
- Implement the Envelope System
Perhaps the reason money is tight is that you can’t stop making impulse purchases. If you desire greater accountability for your spending habits, the envelope system can help you reach your goal. It is an excellent way to not only visually see where each dollar goes but also to understand what bills you will have to short pay if you make unplanned purchases. Quite simply, each monthly bill has an envelope that you deposit funds into from your paycheck. You must then use those funds to pay that envelope’s bills, nothing else. If you want to make an unplanned purchase and have no extra funds to do so, you can visually see that your purchase would take money away from one or more bills.
- Supplement Your Income
If you have cut every expense you can think of, and your incoming money still isn’t sufficient to cover your outgoing payments, it may be time to think about how you can supplement your income. If your job does not consume all of your waking hours you could consider doing things like babysitting, dog walking, driving for Uber or Lyft, or becoming a personal grocery shopper. If your free time is limited, it may be time to look around the house and see what items you can part with for good or pawn.
Your current financial situation does not have to last forever, you may just need a little creativity to find a way out. You can start by making changes on how you spend your money on debt repayment, food, and entertainment. You can create greater accountability for your purchases with the envelope system or supplement your income. Overall, don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working.