SALARIES / AUG. 24, 2014
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How to Stretch Your Income

It’s no secret that many people are living paycheck to paycheck, week after week. The current economic times are not helping, making it vital that you stretch your wages. If you’re smart about your money, you can move from struggling to saving.

Stretching Your Pay

The following areas can be improved upon by many, leaving more money for things you really need or want. Once you begin making more conscious decisions, you will have more freedom with your money down the road.

 

Fixed Expenses

These expenses are things that are fixed in terms of payment. For example, rent, car payments, insurance, loan payments, etc. These expenses do not fluctuate and you can expect to pay the same this month as you did the previous. Although these appear to be fairly fixed, there’s ways to make your dollar stretch further.

  • If you currently have an apartment or house with extra room, why not consider a roommate? This could either cut your rent in half or help pay off your mortgage. Others own a home but live elsewhere. This is commonly seen during second marriages for instance. If you plan on moving but still own your home, rent it out to a family. You will have income through your home which can make a substantial difference at the end of the month.
  • Look into your insurance polices, as some providers will let you combine your polices. If you can, get your car and home insurance under one policy. By doing so, you will most likely save a chunk of change. You can also shop around to see if there’s a better option through another provider.
  • Loan payments can sometimes be tweaked. You need to talk to your loan provider and see if there’s an amount you can settle on. If you’re struggling, you may be able to change your payment amount or seek further assistance. You need to put the effort in, making the necessary changes.

 

Variable Expenses

Variable expenses can change month to month. Entertainment is a classic example, because you may spend double last month eating out in comparison to this month. These costs fluctuate and are a reflection of our lifestyle.

  • Although bills come in every month, they are not constant in terms of cost. Be conscious of your electricity usage. You can save on heating by properly sealing your windows for instance. If you’re going away for a week or so, unplug most of your electric equipment. It’s easy to leave lights on, but it’s just as easy to turn them off. Once you become more consciously aware, you will find yourself wasting less electric.
  • Set up your bills so that they’re paid automatically online. This will ensure the bills are paid on time and you avoid any late fees. If your cable, phone, and Internet bill are high, take a look at trimming down the cost. Do you need the mobile package you currently have? Are you mainly using your phone for work purposes? Speak to your company about their current budget. If you’re able to get a company phone, that could cut an extra cost.
  • Food is a big one, especially for large families. There are many ways in which you can save on your shopping bills. Bottled water is a huge expense, with $15 billion being spent in America alone last year. Utilize the water that comes out of your tap. If you would prefer filtered water, there are various options that cost a lot less than bottled water. We are lucky enough to have access to water, take advantage of that gift.
  • Stop buying prepared frozen foods. Cooking from scratch is so much healthier and can save you a substantial amount of money. Start getting involved in the food you eat as it’s so vital in terms of your health. If you do not have your health, money means nothing at the end of the day. Cook in larger batches and freeze portions. That way you have an easy, healthy, and cheap option after work.
  • Buy in bulk, especially if you have a large family. It can appear more as your bill will be higher, but it is much cheaper in the long run. You can also often get deals on various items. Look out for deals on items that have a long shelf life, like laundry detergent or toothpaste. You can often find coupons in store or online as well. If you’re really struggling, start taking advantage of these coupons.
  • If you eat out often, you know how quickly it can add up. If you go out often with your friends, start having them over to your house. It’s all about the company, so make a nice meal and enjoy each others company. You can switch it up and have dinner at a different house each week. If you like to cook, this will definitely appeal to you. As long as you enjoy it, hosting a dinner party can be a ton of fun and save you quite a bit. Have each person bring a food item and than it’s easy, enjoyable, and cheap for everyone.
  • If you’re spending a lot on petrol, think about carpooling with an employee. If you work with someone that lives close to you, start commuting together. That will cut your transportation costs in half.

 

Tips to Save Money

  1. Whether it’s the supermarket or the pharmacy, sign up for reward programs. The points can accumulate quickly and provide you with free items regularly.

  2. Budget, budget, budget! I can not stress this enough, as it’s the best money management tool possible. Calculate your income and then track where your money is going. You may be surprised to see how much money is wasted. Once you’re more aware of where your money is going, you can have more control.

  3. Shop around for all of your main purchases. If you’re looking to join a gym, take a look at the one’s that are close by and compare. The same goes for your mobile service and anything else that will be consistent payment.

  4. Take care of your debt. Debt chews up money faster than anything else because of the interest that accumulates. If you make the minimum payment each month, a good portion of that will go towards interest. It’s hard to get anywhere when you only make the minimum payment. Address your debt, the sooner the better. If you have some high loans, speak to the loan provider about working something out. It’s up to you to make the effort, you have nothing to lose.

  5. Look for fun, free activities. Why not go on a date in the park with your spouse? Bring a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. Hiking is another great option. There are plenty of free outdoor concerts and outdoor movies during the summer months. If you rent a lot of movies, start visiting the library. You can rent DVDs for free, which makes for an enjoyable night in.

  6. Use cash jars to see where your money is going. Once you budget each expense, put that money in cash jars for the month. For example, a jar for transportation, a jar for food, etc. You would be amazed how much less you spend when you physically see the money being spent. This doesn’t need to be forever, but it will get you into the habit of spending more wisely.

You do not need to live week to week anymore. You should be able to enjoy your money, as you work so hard to make it. When you start cutting costs, you will find that you can save for a vacation much quicker. It’s all about trimming down unnecessary or wasteful expenses and purchases. Once you learn to do that, you will have more freedom with your money.

Photo credit: passionatepennypincher.com

 

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