In a world that is dominated by money, figuring out a way to make yours last longer is essential. The society and culture demands we spend cash left, right and center, so it’s no wonder that a lot of people are struggling with having enough. You have to develop strategies and coping mechanisms and develop the ability for delayed gratification. It does not matter how much you have. What really matters is what you do with it. As you could be earning $100,000 a year be more in debt than someone who earns $15,000 who knows how to live within their means. If you are not careful things can easily spiral out of control, and can have a devastating effect on mental health. If you are struggling, then you know all about the consequences of running out of money and falling into the red. The best thing to do is not bury your head in the sand. Things will not get better that way, if you are worried, then you have a face the problem, as with anything in life - head-on. Anyway here are a few money-saving tips and ideas to get you started.
Get out of Debt
Okay, this is probably the big one, and potentially the most difficult. However, if you are in debt, you need to take stock of where you are. The last thing you should do is shred the letters from the bank or creditors before you read them, this will not help. You will incur charges and fines, and things will only get worse. You need to speak to the lender. Having a conversation with a human being trained to help people in your situation will help you. They may be able to cut you some slack or give you some very good advice, refer you to a specialist, or a financial consultant, or if you are vulnerable in some way, there may be more options. The thing is you do not know what help is on offer until you speak to them. Together you may be able to work out a suitable solution. If you have a lot of separate debts consolidating them makes sense. If the repayments are too high, you need to discuss it. The reality is that while you are in debt, there is little to no point trying to save money as the interest usually outweighs the benefits from saving. So you need to tackle the big issue first. Debt can drag you down if something happens like another recession. So you need to tackle the problem. Once you have a manageable solution, then a lot of stress will be removed from you, and you can go forward more easily.
Learn to live within your means
If you are determined that you want to get out of debt and stay out of debt, you have to be realistic about your earnings. Think about it, and it can be hard as it may mean a lifestyle change, but it is possible. If you want to live stress-free, which is, in the long run, much more beneficial than getting the latest phone or a new bag. Stress is extremely damaging to your health, and can actually make you ill. So think about that the next time you see something and want to buy on impulse. In order to save money, you have to have money to save and living frugally and within your means is how you do this. How many people get paid and have no idea where the money goes? You have to level up your consciousness on what you are spending. If you struggle with money, you have to be aware of every purchase you make. Why don’t you have a look at your bank statement from last month and work out how many of the purchases you can remember aking and how many could have been avoided? You have to stop money falling through your fingers like a sieve, and stop impulse buying, internet shopping for things you don't need, and buying unnecessary things such as expensive lunches and sandwiches. It is up to you to be the Master of your finances, and the only person you need to control is you.
Keep an eye on your bank account
These days there is pretty much no excuse for not knowing how much is in your bank account. If you have a smartphone, you can have a banking app. If you struggle with money, then you need to be able to see how you are going on a daily basis, possibly a few times a day to know how you are getting on and what funds you have to play with. The idea is that with more knowledge, you will make better spending choices. That way, it makes it more difficult to fall into the red.
Some of you may require a budget, as you cannot monitor it in real-time. You will have to work exactly what income comes into the house, and what all the essential outgoings are such as rent or mortgage, utilities, etc. Once you know how much you have left, you can set a daily, or weekly budget, whatever works best for you. Look at your bank statement and look at all your direct debits, can you stop any of them? Do you still really need that direct debit for the gym you never go to?
If there is something that you really desire and it is out of your price range, step back. You need to think. Is it worth it? Perhaps leave it a month or so and see if you still really want or need it. You will probably find that the impulse to buy has gone and you have one less thing cluttering up your home. However, if something is out of your budget and you still need it, save up, or cut back on something else. Do not go into the red for it, as you will find the benefit you get from the product will be outweighed by the stress for falling into debt again.
Find cheaper alternatives
Have you made a utility comparison recently? Or a phone package comparison? If you have an expensive direct debit on a phone contract, are you really getting the best deal? You could invest in a Smarty SIM and get a pay as you go SIM for as little as £6 a month. There are so many options out there. You should think about your food shop too, perhaps going to a budget supermarket may be a better alternative, or simply buying supermarket own branded things instead of the branded items. However, there are some things that you shouldn’t scrimp on, as the more expensive item may last a lot longer. The cheapest toilet rolls, for example, last three seconds, so get the mid-range ones instead. If you are determined to have a better financial life, then you will work out the best options for you.
Use coupons and deals
When you see a coupon in a magazine, use it. There is no shame in this. Also, everyone deserves to go out once in a while, so find places that offer deals you can use various sites such as Groupon to find deals. Also, there are a lot of retailers who reward their customers. So sign up. You may want a separate email address for this so create a separate email account, then go into the stores you frequent and get the loyalty cards they have on offer.
Write a list of shopping items and stick to it
When you make your weekly trip to the supermarket, ensure you stick to your list. Do not be tempted by the myriad of two for one offers and shiny deals. This could actually serve you a double function, as not only will you be buying only what's on the list, in all likelihood this will be healthier too. Two for one offers are generally for the unhealthy things, so don't be tempted. Als, ensure that the list has enough bread and milk, etc. to last the week. You do not want to be making unnecessary trips to the corner store where the prices are inflated every five minutes.
Stop buying fast food
You may be busy, but you are far better off cooking at home rather than going to the drive-through or ordering in a takeaway. Over time these little luxuries add up, and you will be out of pocket. Not to mention that you are developing bad habits. You should look at yourself and see if you have any other bad habits you can cut, like smoking, and drinking too much alcohol. Both of these are expensive habits and are also bad for your health. If you can avoid making so many trips in the car, you will be able to save money on petrol too. There are going to be many little ways you can save money. You just have to have the power of mind, and determination to make small incremental changes for the better.