It is difficult to cope when every day is a financial struggle. You might work all day every day but still not have anything left at the end of the month. You’re not alone. The cost of living has simply escalated too much too quickly, and we’re left scratching our heads to figure out how to pay the bills. There are a few approaches you can take to managing this situation. Doing nothing might leave you even worse off.
When you’ve reached the point of emotional intensity about your money situation that you find yourself crying or angry, things need to happen now. Emotional reactions like this are normal when you can’t see a way out of difficulty. Taking action, even if you don’t like it, gives you back some control over the situation. It’s time to stop everything that isn’t absolutely essential spend. Try this for one month.
Here are just some of the things that you might need to stop spending money on for a while:
Chocolate, biscuits, sweets, cakes and other non-essential food – You won’t go hungry or malnutritioned by cutting out these items. Of course, you might miss this type of snack so make sure you have something to see you through between meals that perhaps you’ve made yourself. There has been a substantial price increase on sugary and other non-healthy foods lately.
Coffees or drinks out – Socialising is really important, so don’t give up the chance to meet up. But choose your venues wisely. Invite your friends to your house instead of spending at coffee shops. Why not walk around the park and bring a mini picnic?
Clothes and shoes that aren’t replacing something worn out – Retail therapy like this has become habitual for many of us. Try buying clothing to replace items that no longer fit or are worn out. This can help to avoid bursting wardrobes, and will encourage you to become more creative with your outfit ensemble choices!
Haircuts and styling beyond a trim and colour at home – We ladies have seen price hikes of an extreme nature when it comes to taking care of our hair. Even shampoo and conditioner from the supermarket is more pricey. Pick a cut that is easy to maintain. Then reduce your spend to just trims. If you colour, try a home kit for a month to see if that can work for you. It might save you hundreds of pounds a year.
Cosmetics unless you’ve run out – This is another area where our money can disappear. Lots of us love to change our colours up every season. But this simply isn’t practical when money is so tight. Invest in a multi-colour palette and see how versatile it can be.
Apps and games – If you often pay for apps and game updates, then it might be worth stopping for a month to see how much you really need it. We all need hobbies and interests to enjoy when we have some downtime. It might be time to find some free sites for a while.
Movies and TV packages on demand – One month off shouldn’t cause too many problems, but it might save a little bit of cash when you need it most. When you’ve managed a little while with none of the packages, consider reinstating the bare minimum ongoing. It only needs to be for a while until your finances are in good shape again. The same goes for your music streaming packages.
Gym memberships – All of us need to keep fit, and some of us need particular exercises for therapeutic reasons. However, it is possible to stay in good shape for free. Walking and running are great cardio activities. Perhaps you have a bike? A step can be very useful too. Check out YouTube for some great exercises using just a workout mat at home.
Non-essential Spend Quashed, Time For Other Cuts
Now you might be feeling that this is frugality gone mad, but for just one month to get over a financial bump, it might be an eye-opener. The next thing to look at is your essential expenses. Can they be reduced? Rent and mortgage payments must be made in full each month. You can’t risk the consequences of not covering that cost. But if you can’t afford it anymore, you must consider moving to cheaper accommodation. As a mum, you’re not likely to be in a position to rent out a room to reduce your own burden.
Are you in a hurry to cover arrears before you find yourself homeless? You might quickly sell some unused items like clothes you don’t wear, appliances you can live without, or jewellery. This can be heartbreaking, but a roof over your head is more important. You might need to borrow the rest from a friend or lender like MoneyBoat that works quickly enough. It’s often at this critical time that other things go wrong! The car might break down so you can’t get to work. Or maybe the fridge stops working? These are other costs you need to cover in a hurry, so sometimes you have to make the tough calls.
While you’re searching for something suitable, try to turn the heating down a degree, turn off all lights and appliances not in use, and batch cook. These will all save a lot on your energy bills. Again, these must be paid promptly, but most energy companies will help you out with a payment plan if you struggle.
After A Month
Once you’ve proven to yourself just how little you can live in, you can make some big decisions about moving forward. Ask for a promotion and pay rise at work. You know you deserve it so detail your contributions and their value to your employer. Find some work-at-home work to boost your income too. Most importantly, use a detailed spreadsheet to meticulously budget from now on. This is a great tool to help you avoid overspending and struggling in the future. Hopefully, going forward, you can even put a few pounds away each month to cover shortfalls and emergencies. Perhaps there is just enough for that well-deserved chocolate bar too?