Struggling to Make Ends Meet Financially
It is not uncommon for people to lose their jobs right now. The economy hasn’t been the greatest and the job market is not stable in many areas.
If you’ve recently lost your job, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to make ends meet. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone and that there are things you can do to get by. Right now.
1. Prioritize – The first step you should take, other than the job search, of course, is to prioritize your bills. Figure out how much you normally spend on basic monthly bills – things like rent/mortgage, utilities/insurance, and cable/internet/phone – and they should be considered in that order.
Keeping a roof over your head is the biggest priority, with utilities and insurance next, as you need water, electricity, gas, and protection. Remember, if someone breaks an arm, those bills will sink you. Don’t let the insurance lapse. Everything else can be reconsidered depending on what resources you have left.
2. What is your budget? – You may assume that this step would be the first thing you would do, and you could. However, making this step two instead of step one helps to put things into perspective.
If you look at money first and necessities second, you get overwhelmed over expenses before even looking at what you actually need. Don’t worry yourself more than you need to.
Look at your priorities first, then look at your resources. Your brain will start to find places for things a bit more easily that way.
3. Get rid of unnecessary basic expenses – This would include your cable, internet and phone bills. Although these can be necessities to some extent, there are ways to manage around them if you find you have to let one or more go.
Cable can be sacrificed more conveniently these days because there are other options (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Blu-rays, etc). You can always go to the library to use the internet or see if using a hotspot on your phone would bring down your costs.
If you have more than one phone, consider going down to a single line – this would include both landlines and cell phones. You really only need one. Be sure to take advantage of all the cost cutting ideas that you can get.
4. Wipe out the extras – Do you have subscriptions to anything? Cancel it and ask the company to reimburse you the remaining amount. Do you find yourself at the mall or Starbucks every week or so? Stay home.
Wipe out the extra expenses you’ve taken for granted. All of those things deplete the resources that you could be putting towards your vital expenses and will help you stay afloat longer.
5. Keep something for yourself – All of this being said, if you can manage, try keeping one, less costly extra for yourself. Sometimes, especially with subscriptions, you can skip a month if you need to, but it’s nice to have some kind of treat to help ease the stress – even if it’s small.
Once you’ve managed the rest of your bills – and if you have the means without sacrificing a necessity – treat yourself to a little something. (Even if it means a trip to the dollar store for a candy bar.) Your sanity will thank you!
6. Make your food budget stretch – Other than room and board, food is a major necessity. Make your food budget stretch by planning meals and practicing thrifty shopping. The less trips you make to the store, the less you will spend.
Create a weekly or monthly (monthly is better) menu plan so that you don’t deviate from your budget and make sure to use coupons (often provided by the store by app) whenever possible. You can also get additional savings on apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 after shopping. All of these savings together can help you save huge amounts of money if you buy only what you need.
7. Cook from scratch – Frozen and other highly processed foods may seem like the better way to go, but they can be bad for your wallet. Buying fresher foods and cooking everything from scratch will make your money stretch farther.
In addition, when you cook for yourself, you can make larger portions which you can refrigerate or freeze for future meals. Think soups (which you can freeze into portions), large casseroles and other large portion meals, which brings us to our next point –
8. Get a slow cooker – You can get various models for low prices. There are a ton of make ahead and freezer meals available online, so make Google your friend! Most of these recipes will have you dump all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and serve them when you’re ready. Freeze or refrigerate any leftovers for later. More time to focus – or not focus – on other things! Be sure to check out additional ways to save on meals when you have no income as well.
Do your homework first – and your math – and make sure that what you are buying is going to save you money in the long run. It will be different for different items, so be sure to compare prices (i.e. beans may be cheaper in bulk while milk gallons may be cheaper on sale at the grocery store).
Additionally, be sure to take advantage of the coupons offered at anywhere you shop to make your money stretch further.
10. Keep calm – This is not so much a money saving tip as it is for your peace of mind. You will make it through this. It will be tough, no doubt, but it is not impossible. Keep calm, keep a clear head on your shoulders, and you’ll be okay.
When any type of disaster befalls you and your family, especially something like losing a job, the best tip ever is to jump into action and reorganize as soon as possible. This will level things out faster and help save a lot of time and stress. Answering the question “how will I pay all my bills” is much easier if you can break it down and take it a step at a time. You can do this.