It seems like you never have any money, you’re always running behind. How do you catch up? Where do you begin? Everyone has been there, stuck playing catch up with seemingly no end. The good news is it always ends. You will catch back up. The question becomes, how do you stay caught up? What should you cut back on? What helps the most?
I wasn’t always the best at saving money. I have made my errors in the past and I have had to play catch up on bills and money. Over time I learned ways to help me save and I learned ways to help me catch up. I’ve gotten advice and realized what helps the most and what doesn’t do anything. Here are my top ten things to do if you find that you can’t keep up.
1. Stop Eating Out
It seems like an easy one at first. Until you realize that you have nothing made, it’s eight at night, and all you have in the kitchen is some materials to make a sandwich. Looks like your having a sandwich for dinner. Next month, work on planning your meals a little bit more, tonight revel in the fact you just saved $5 or more.
My biggest tip is to not go out for a whole week. This can be a challenge for those who go out all the time so it’s a good first goal. Once you can do that, try going for two weeks. Also, never put it off until tomorrow. If you don’t start today you never will.
2. Download Mint
I don’t get paid by mint (I wish I did.) Regardless, their app is perfect for those who struggle with fiances. They offer great tips, blogs, and help you keep track of what you’ve spent. Attach all your accounts to this app from credit and debit to loans and savings. This will give you a full picture of where you are in life. You can even get a free credit score from them with info on how to make it better. Check it ever week (at least) to make sure you aren’t spending to much. If you notice a pattern of bad spending on say dog sweaters, try to cut back on purchasing them. If your buying to many slippers, remind yourself to stay away from the shopping mall for a while.
3. Drink Only Water
Stop drinking soda, coffee (if it’s those little pods at least), energy drinks, beer, wine, and anything else. Drink water. It’s, mostly, free. Or, at least, it’s much cheaper than anything else. You’ll be surprised the effects (other than health) that come from cutting all of those things out. You’ll feel better, have more money, be less thirsty, and crave less food just to name a few. If you’re a heavy soda drinker than you might come right on out of the negative in one month.
A note on those coffee pods: Please switch to something better for the environment. (I’ll for real love you) They are massive contributors to waist in the landfills. Also, they are very overpriced and add up quickly. They now have refillable ones for sale if you need to make coffee one cup at a time.
4. Plan Your Week
One bad thing about living life unplanned is you spend more. When you don’t have a set plan for the day you can get wrapped into going to places that you otherwise wouldn’t have and spending money that you didn’t need too. (guilty) Rather than let this happen, plan out your week scheduling in fun time along side everything else. When you do this, you can feel more happy because you know something fun is coming up and you loose some of the desire to go out every night. (You will still have to learn to say “no” to friends)
5. Learn to Say NO
No is a word that you must use. When your on a budget, it might become your favorite word. If someone wants to go out for drinks, say no. If someone wants to go bowling (do people still do that?) say no. However, you can’t just say no.
You need to learn to find alternatives. Say, I can’t go out for drinks, but if you bring drinks here we can chill and I’ll cook dinner. Rather than bowling, meet at a park and walk around. Yea, it might not be as fun, but not having any money ruins the fun of going out pretty quick.
6. Enjoy the Small Things in Life
Like above, you can’t just do nothing. You need to enjoy doing the small things. Enjoy time out running errands, be happy taking you dog for a walk, enjoy running rather than paying for a rock climbing membership (I’ve had to do this one a few times). If you can learn to enjoy the cheaper things, you respect the expensive things more when you do pay for them.
Ideas: walk, run, TV, read, dog park, cloud watching, picnic, meditation, at home yoga, aerobics, make a pillow fort, ect.
7. Learn to Ask
If you really need to help, learn to ask. It can be hard and you might get turned down but it’s not like you lost anything by asking. A great book to read is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. It’s helpful to listen to some of her music before reading the book but not necessary if you have an open mind.
There are places out there that are meant to help, places you can get food for free. Places you can get dental work for free. Places you can stay if your homeless or if your running away from abuse. No matter the reason you need help financially, you have places to turn to even if your family isn’t available.
8. Use New Ways To Save
When I am looking to save money, I know there are a few ways I can save on the purchases I made. Ibotta is something I use and if you follow this link you can even get a $10 welcome bonus! Ibotta allows you to buy things like you normally would then scan your receipt for free money. It has tons of deals and not as many restrictions as other sites I’ve used.
Another great site to save with is Groupon. It’s not just for fun outings anymore. If you sign up with Groupon you can get discounts on food, classes, dates, adventures, and just about anything you can dream of. Sign up for Groupon here!
* The links I provide are free for you to use, however, if you use that link to sign up not only will you get have the chance to get free money, so will I! It’s like a win win! For more about this check out our about section!
9. Be Ready to Take a Bad Job
Some jobs suck. Being a cashier can be awful as can begin a bus boy. If you really need to, take a second job and work in any position you can find until you can catch back up on your finances. Work nights and weekends so that you can bring in extra cash. Try to take a job at a place that offers a free meal while you are working or gives a discount on food purchased there. Then you not only get paid, but you also get free or discounted products which also saves you money.
It will be rough and you might hate your life for a bit, but it’s important to remember that it is temporary and to stay positive. Once you get back into the positive, look at why you fell behind and try to cut back or fix it. You might need more money in general, in which case your second job might stick around for a while. You might realize that you spend to much on entertainment and that you must cut back if you wish to quit your second job. Whatever the case, #2 (mint) can help here.
10. Stay Positive
Above all, it’s important to stay positive no matter what. If you become negative it will be much harder to pull yourself out of the rut and get back into the swing of things. It will be hard to see the point in saving money and catching back up if you get stressed, depressed, or upset. To combat this, there are many free options for therapy.
If you feel like the stress is getting to you, check out your work. Do they have a free therapist? What about college? If you are in it, then you will be able to get free therapy from there. There are other ways for those that have neither of the previously mentioned. It might take some looking, contact locals from your area. You can find someone that works for free for an hour or two a week.
I know these were ten tips that might not all be useful to everyone. There were some of the more extreme cases, and others for people who just need a bit of a kick into saving. My hope is that you can take a bit away from all of these tips to live more simply and save more money.
What advice do you have for someone who needs more money?
What money saving tips do you have?