During difficult times when you’re finding it hard to make ends meet, you need to budget and manage your money more efficiently. This will take hard work and persistence, changing from your normal lifestyle to one that is more frugal because this may affect both your family and yourself.
Anyone can find themselves in this stressful situation through no fault of their own, for example, the loss of a job, a family illness or even a relationship breakdown.
When money gets tight, you need to have a good look at your finances, no matter how difficult this is. Check each incoming payment eg., salary or benefits, against your outgoings and before you buy anything ask yourself “Do I really need it or do I just want it?”
If you are married or in a partnership, make sure you talk to each other about your finances and speak honestly, because the only way you will succeed is by working together.
Firstly, decide the importance of your expenditures and make these a priority. This should include things like your mortgage or rent, utility bills such as gas, electricity, and water. Ensure you pay these first and then you can have a look at where you can make cutbacks.
You don’t need to buy or cook fancy food; creating a meal plan will help you on a tight budget because you will only need to buy what is on your list. If there is any cooked food leftover, you can freeze it and have it another time.
Use shops like Aldi, Lidl, or Farm Foods for your grocery shopping because they sell their own versions of popular brands. Consider shopping at the end of the day when most supermarkets reduce the food that has a close use-by date on it. Make your own coffee to go instead of spending unnecessarily at the coffee shop near work.
If you have a gym membership that you no longer use, see if you can cancel it. Do this for any other subscriptions that you pay monthly for that you do not use- it could save you a lot of money.
Cut out the things that you don’t really need. Buying that new pair of shoes or items of clothing may make you feel good at the time but when the guilt sets in you will make yourself feel worse.
However, just think before you spend because if you cut out everything, (like when you are on a diet) you will not stick to it in the long run.
Sometimes you do not realise how much you’ve spent on a credit card until the bill arrives. If you have an outstanding amount on your credit card try to transfer it to one that has a 0% interest rate to save you money. Always try to pay the full balance off if you’re able to.
If you have not changed your energy supplier for a while it may be worth looking into because it could save you hundreds of pounds during the year.
Do some research into changing your mobile phone plan if you are out of your contract. If you are happy with the handset, switch to a SIM-only deal that will undoubtedly be cheaper for you.
Look into TV and broadband providers- there are often great deals for new customers. You may be surprised at what your current supplier offers you if you tell them you are leaving, they won’t want to lose you!
Buying birthday gifts and cards can be expensive so why not make something instead? Homemade gifts and cards often mean more to a person than a shop-bought one. It shows you have spent time and effort creating a gift exclusively for them, yet for at a fraction of the cost. Doing this regularly could save you a considerable amount of money in the long run.
You don’t need to spend a small fortune entertaining your family. Simple entertainment like playing board games, playing football or going for a walk will mean more to your child than spending lots of money on things they don’t need.
If you really want to push the boat out, you could have a cinema night. Decide on a movie, grab some popcorn and sweets and snuggle down to watch a favourite family film. All of which are free or have a minimal cost involved and you’re spending valuable time with your loved ones.
Open a separate savings account so that if you have any money left at the end of the month after tracking your spending you can put it in there. This can soon add up and you’ll have spending money for the future whenever you need it. It doesn’t matter how little you can save, think of the saying “ Mighty oaks from little acorns grow”, everything takes time.
Most of all, be honest with yourself, set realistic goals and make time to spend with each other.
Things don’t have to be boring living on a budget, you just need that little bit of creativity.
With a little bit of imagination, you can do this.