How can you help yourself when you haven’t enough money to get by?
Blog post by Taylor Smith
When trying so hard to make ends meet, and we understand just how hard that can be in today’s society; with more people relying on food banks, and more people than ever living on the streets, it’s a tough task to stay on top when your money just won’t stretch as far as you want it to. Scratch that, when your money won’t stretch as far as you need it to.
It sounds simple but it’s the first step towards making a practical plan to see how far your money can go. It should also help you consider new ways to make your spending more efficient in order to balance whatever amounts you’ve got coming in.
Track your expenses
This is your new budget. Make sure you have a hard copy, don’t just hold it in your head. Write it down or create a spreadsheet if you’re computer savvy. Add to it and amend it all the time. Every penny you spend against every penny you earn. By doing this you’ll have a 100% accurate record of where you’re money is going without those hidden surprises.
Find the best deals on all of your bills
We’re constantly reminded to Go Compare (that was artistic reference, not a shameless plug by the way) the prices of everything and anything that we pay for services these days – so do it. Price comparison sites will find you the best rates for everything from your electricity and gas suppliers, car and home insurance, credit cards, loans and more. You could be saving hundreds of pounds by doing your research and making a few changes.
Get help with banking
It’s exactly the same with your banking, so go find your best deal on rates, costs and fees. If you’re already overdrawn or slipping into an overdraft consult your bank to find a solution that’s good for everyone. There are ways of managing your money that your banks may be able to help with so arrange a meeting. Explain your situation and ask them how they can help you.
Be organised with bills
Set up standing orders wherever possible, because if you forget about a bill one month having to pay double, and the associated fines and costs, may cripple you the next.
They should already be part of your new budget plan so you should be aware of which bills are due and when, but we’re human and fallible so we can expect to make a mistake from time to time. Don’t take that chance. Automate your payments and reduce the risk.
It may be impossible for many but if you’re living beyond your means without need this area can represent massive savings. Consider downsizing to a manageable situation until you’re back on your feet. Renting a single room is cheaper than renting an apartment, and renting a flat is cheaper than a house. See how much you can save if your responsibilities allow it.
If you’ve got additional room in your home then why not take a lodger? It’s easy money and quite often you won’t even have to have a stranger living with you. How many of your circle of friends need, or know someone, who’s looking for somewhere to stay? Get on social media and find out or go one further and put that room on Airbnb.
Find out if you’re entitled to additional benefits
Research all of the benefits that might be available to you. There are countless benefits calculators online and plenty of guides to what’s available, especially when you’re on a low income. Even if you’re earning you might still be entitled to Income Support and there are a host of single payment benefits of additional help when it’s deemed necessary.
Sell what you don’t need or don’t use
Ebay used to drive me crazy. The amount of effort you had to put in to sell something you no longer needed or wanted just to make a few extra pounds seemed ridiculous. But if that money is the difference between getting by and not then it’s got to be worth it. If you’re a little remiss like me, then try alternative lesser hassle platforms. Both Shpock and Facebook marketplace aim at selling locally so those trips to the Post Office and haggling with buyers over shipping fly out of the window straight away. Your buyers will come to you if they really want what you’re selling.
Make a thorough sweep of your home. We have so many things we never touch that are gathering dust when they could be gathering cash.
Budgeting loans and emergency borrowing
The government sets aside money to supply interest-free emergency loans to those in real need. If you’re on benefits and things are getting desperate then find out if you can claim. They’re set up to help with necessities such as travelling expenses, clothing, footwear, furniture and household equipment. You can also claim for money to help you look for work, to improve or secure your home or even to pay rent or removal costs when moving home.
Work a side hustle
If you’re struggling for money you’ve probably already thought of this. A second job will add to your income no doubt about it. But if you can find a way to make a hobby or a skill you have work for you outside of your normal working hours then that’s a real bonus. You could try taking online surveys that pay cash, babysitting, dog walking, selling art, writing for the internet (I can guarantee that one works), yard work, gardening, cleaning or housework; we all have an abundance of natural skills we don’t think to use in order to earn money. So start thinking and start earning.
Deals on credit
If you’re sliding into debt then it’s really important to manage it so it doesn’t get any further out of hand. Talk to a specialist or financial advisor. You can get expert advice and specialist debt management help from Creditfix. They understand the sensitivity of every situation; they see people just like you every day and help them manage their debt problems so that they can go on living their everyday lives.
Eat well for less
We waste a whole ton of money by buying the wrong things. You should already have cut down on what and how you spend but so often you can save money and live healthier at the same time. Buying fresh fruit and vegetables as and when you need them is far cheaper than paying for overpriced pre-prepared meals. Going off-label and buying supermarket own brand products will save you money and they’re no different to what you’re used to in many cases these days.
You should also consider buying your groceries online. I was surprised at this but there are real benefits to this method. Delivery costs could well be cheaper than transporting yourself and your purchases to and from the supermarket. Also, you can keep an eye on the running total of your shop, finding ways to save on the items you can replace in your cart. Another handy advantage to this is how it helps you shop smarter when planning your meals in advance. Pre-plan what you’re going to eat for the week and buy just that. No need for impulse buys and extra purchases if you stick to your plan. You’ll be surprised at what you save.
Get savvy with coupons, vouchers and discount codes
Coupons, vouchers and discount codes can be the same as free money if their value is justified. Be careful that you’re not being tricked into buying an overpriced product or one where you can buy the same thing cheaper elsewhere, but for genuine savings they’re there to be utilised.
From printed options that land through your letterbox, or by searching them out online, those small amounts can add up to help in bigger ways than you think.
Use a budgeting app
There are loads of free apps that offer budget plans. You can set your targets and they’ll help you stick to them. The structures behind these technologies are excellent. They’ll guide you into better spending patterns, warn you when you can’t afford to spend and when you’re doing well help you siphon off a little here and there to build up some savings to use as a slush fund for the next round of emergencies.