Making Your Check Last Longer
These days, many of us are facing a loss of income. It could be a forced pay cut, having to take a lower paying job or it could be from your partner losing their job. In any case, you have to stretch the income that you currently have. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to do just that. Take a look at 28 ways that you can make your money go further.
- Write Up A Budget
If you have no idea where your money is going, you can not possibly make the cuts needed to stretch out your paycheck.
Sit down and write down a simple budget, it doesn’t have to be anything too fancy. Be sure to record every expense including the cost of variable things like entertainment, food and gas. Once you do that, you will have the tool that you need to cut unnecessary expenses.
- Make Your Own Coffee
Addicted to store bought coffee? You are not alone, but you probably need to cut it out. Why spend almost 5 dollars for a cup of coffee when you can brew it at home for a fraction of the price.
Make a one time investment and buy a coffee grinder, a decent coffee maker and then some hole coffee beans. Then, start raking in the savings, as much as 150 dollars a month worth.
- Brown Bag It To Work
You can easily waste 10 dollars a day (or more) on restaurant food. This includes both fast food and sit down dining, it is just too expensive.
Start taking your lunch and you can cut that cost down to just 2 dollars a day. This represents a potential saving of more than 40 dollars a week and over 160 dollars a month. As a side benefit, your health might improve as well.
- Install A Programmable Thermostat
You might think that it is cheaper to leave a home at one set temperature, but this is wrong. It is actually cheaper to only heat or cool your home when you need it. A programmable thermostat will let you do just that and will have your home at the temperature that you like when you get back.
Don’t bother with the expensive “learning” thermostats, it will take you forever to recoup the price. Instead just get a basic programmable one for under 50 dollars and learn how to program it correctly.
- Start Streaming
Stretching a paycheck means doing without things that you do not absolutely need. This means cable and satellite, both of which typically cost more than 100 dollars a month. Instead switch to a paid streaming service like Hulu for under 10 dollars a month.Even better, choose a free one like IMDB or Crackle.
- Monitor Electricity Usage
Don’t let yourself get obsessive about it, but try to reign in your electrical usage. This means keep lights turned off, lower the temperature on your water heater and control the thermostat. In the winter keep it a few degrees cooler and in the summer, keep it a few degrees warmer.
It might not seem like much, but these things can have a big impact on your electric and/or gas bill.
- Buy Things With Cash
It might seem wrong to carry around a wad of cash, but it we have a strong psychological attachment to our money. People have a harder time paying with real money than they do with credit cards. This can help keep you from making poor spending decisions.
If you want to take this to the next level, move to the cash envelope method. At the beginning of the month, place your entire budget for food or entertainment in an envelope. When the money is gone, it is gone and that will teach you to spend carefully.
- Make A Grocery Shopping List
You have probably heard to never grocery shop when you are hungry. This is true but you should really never shop without a list. If you go without a list, you are just guessing at what you need and you will buy a lot of unneeded items.
Before you go to the grocery store, plan out your meals for the week and then write a list. Stick to the list and do not be tempted by grocery store end-caps. If you are prone to temptation, use free curbside grocery pickup, a great service offered by most stores.
- Cut Out Meat
As a nation, we eat far too much meat, especially beef. It is unhealthy for us, for the environment and for our pocket book.
This is not to say that you should cut it out entirely though. I am a devout carnivore and would never advocate that. Still, cutting out meat just once a week could save you an easy 10 dollars a week or get you 500 dollars in savings a year.
- Go Generic
Most generic products out there are pretty close in quality to the name brands. In fact, many of the name brands are made by the same companies making the generics.
The only thing that you really should not buy as a generic is diapers. They just do not hold up and you will waste more money on ruined clothes than you save on the diapers.
- Save Your Change
Nobody likes counting pennies, but you don’t have to. Just get change jar and take it down to a local CoinStar when it gets full. For a small fee, the machine does the counting for you.
When you think about how much change you waste, you can see the value in a simple change jar. At up to a dollar a day, it could amount to getting 300 dollars in a year, maybe even more.
- Give Yourself A Spending Cool Off Period
Set a price limit for big purchases. It could be 100 dollars or it could be 200 dollars or more, depending on your budget.
If you are thinking about buying anything above that amount, wait 2 weeks or perhaps even 30 days before you make the purchase. This will give you the time to “cool off” and you will probably find that you no longer want the item.
- Say Goodbye To Packaged Meals
All that preparation comes with a cost. Instead, learn to make your own meals and save a fortune. These days that is easier than ever with YouTube cooking lessons. Watch a short video and learn how to make dozens of meals, even copycats of your favorite dishes.
As a side effect, your food will taste better and will be healthier.
- Use A Cash Back Credit Card
If you have the credit, sign up for a cash back credit card and then put as many of your expenses on it as you can. Just be sure to pay the card off every month and you could get 50 dollars or more a month back in your pocket. As long as you pay the card off when the statement comes, there will be no interest and you get 600 dollars a year in free money.
- Start Drinking Water
Water is cheaper and, of course, much healthier than soda or sugary drinks. Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry it wherever you go.
This serves two purposes, it will mean that you never have to buy a drink again which can save you hundreds of dollars a month. It also means that you will be more likely to stay full and not waste money on expensive snacks or fast food.
- Unplug Your Electronics
All of those electronics you have in your home don’t just soak up energy while i use, they also use power when they are turned off. Things like televisions, radios and just about anything with a circuit board in it. Unplug all of those electronics and cut your utility bill.
I am sure the idea of going through the house every day pulling out plugs is terribly unappealing, so make it easy on yourself. Hook up groups of appliances on surge strips so that you can simply hit a button.
- Do Your Own Vehicle Maintenance
If you need to make ends meet, you need to start doing some of the things that you normally pay for. This might mean vehicle maintenance and luckily, basic vehicle maintenance is pretty simple. Things like oil changes, tire rotations and air filter swaps can be done by anyone. Need a little help? Just check the internet for a helpful DIY video.
- Let Go Of It
If you have things just laying around collecting dust, now is the time to sell it. Do it now while your items have more value and before you get into a rush to sell your property. Take advantage of online auctions on eBay to get the most value out of your items. If you don’t need the money now, still sell it and put the money into savings for a rainy day.
- Learn To Cook
Restaurants or food delivery is simply out of the question id you want to live on less money. If you can not cook, now is the time to learn, but do not worry it is not that hard. Start by looking at some lessons online and sticking to basic seasonings like garlic salt, pepper, onion powder, etc. As you gain experience and confidence, you can dive into deeper cooking waters.
- Negotiate Your Bills
You might be surprised at just how much money you can save if you just negotiate with companies. Call your car insurance and ask about discounts. Contact your credit card companies and see about an interest reduction. You might even go as far as calling your utility providers and see if you qualify for any charitable programs.
- Have A No Spend Day (Or Two)
Designate an entire day for not spending any money. It will challenge you at first, but it will teach you to be frugal and reset your spending habits. Soon you will enjoy the little things in life and not be so dependent on spending.
- Get A Side Hustle
Even better than cutting bills to stretch your paycheck is to add some extra money. Perhaps it is time to get a side hustle like driving for Uber, selling scrap metal or even donating plasma for money. Donating plasma alone can net you up to 400 dollars a month. That will get you 5000 dollars over the course of a calendar year.
- Downsize Your Residence
If you are facing a long term loss of income, hard decisions may be needed. If you rent, one of these decisions could be moving to a more affordable home. Think about simply downsizing, choosing a home with fewer amenities or picking a location with more affordable rent.
If you are a homeowner, you can still consider downsizing but it will involve a bit more work. On the plus side though, you might be able to tap into some of your home equity.
- Pay Off Your Credit Cards
Paying more money might seem counter intuitive, but it could help you avoid wasting money in the future. At 20 percent interest, you are burning hundreds of dollars a year in interest payments.
Develop a plan for paying off those credit cards. The simplest is the debt snowball method. Pay the minimum on all cards except the one with the lowest balance. Pay as much on it as you can until the card is paid off and then move on to the next one.
- Quit The Gym
Don’t quit working out of course, just cut out the gym. Switch to free ways to exercise like walking in the park or taking a bike ride. Even if you have to buy a used bike or some free weights off of Craigslist, you will still come out ahead in short order.
- Start Using Coupons
If you are like most people, the thought of cutting out coupons is about as unappealing as it gets. It pays off though, so start looking through that junk mail and clipping those coupons out.
If you can not stand the thought of paper coupons, look into an app that does the heavy lifting for you. Apps like Ibotta can help you save money by providing you discounts at all of the stores that you already shop.
- Take Advantage Of Free Entertainment
Stretching the budget does not have to be boring, you just have to be creative about how you entertain yourself. One great source is your city government.
Turn to the library for free books, music and even movies. Look to city festivals, free concerts and events to entertain the entire family. You might be surprised at everything that you can do for free. Check city calendars of your city and all nearby ones for ideas.
- Monetize Your Downtime
You are on the internet now, why not make money from it. Sign up with a website such as SwagBucks that allows you to make money from all of the things that you do online already. Sure, their chief thing is surveys, but they also allow you to make money from watching videos, surfing the internet and even playing games.