From time to time, whether due to cuts in our income or a vacation that drained our bank account, money is tight. We have enough for the things we need, but sometimes even that is in question. Being short on funding can create stress and anxiety and even lead to depression.
While money isn’t everything, it is a thing, and something we all worry about from time to time. How do you handle things when your financial situation is not ideal? Here are some financial tips to keep you stable when money is tight.
The first thing you can do when money is tight is to cut costs. This can mean things like turning down the heat during the winter or turning up the air conditioning in the summer. There are also other ways to save on your electric bill and other utilities including decreasing water use, taking shorter showers, and not running the dishwasher or doing laundry until you have a full load.
Maybe you can do without those cable channels or that streaming service for the next month or so until you are back on your feet. Drive less, or even ride the bus or carpool to work. Park in free spaces and walk further instead. Perhaps there are other perks and memberships you can live without, like working out at home instead of the gym or drinking less coffee out at coffee shops in the morning.
No matter what method you choose, there are probably several ways for you to cut costs in your family budget. When money is tight, reduce spending wherever you can.
Needs vs. Wants
When money is tight, one of the things you need to weigh is needs vs. wants. You might want a new phone, but if you pay yours off and don’t have a phone payment for a few months, you can save some serious coin. Keep that old car a little longer before you trade it in. Don’t upgrade your computer, TV, or sound system until you are financially ready to do so.
There are many things we might want, from new clothes to the latest shoes or those concert tickets, but we can do without them, and when money is tight, the enjoyment you get from those things often does not outweigh the stress of getting them and wanting for money in other areas.
You may need a gym membership, but maybe you can do without the extra charge for tanning and yoga classes until your budget is more stable. You need food, but you might be able to get by without the gourmet cuts of meat or that glass of fine wine with dinner. Determine what is really a need and what is simply something you want and put off the wants until you are on your feet again.
Relaxing on a Budget
Just because money is tight does not mean you should not have any fun at all. There are still fun things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money. For example:
- Go to Movies on Tuesdays: Many theaters have reduced prices on slow days, and you can see shows for a reduced price.
- Picnic in the Park: There are probably some great parks in your city, some you might have never visited. Check them out with a blanket and a packed lunch for cheap family fun.
- Get Cultured: Along with your parks, there are probably free or low-cost museums and historic sites you can visit in your area.
- Window Shop: You know that things will get better for you financially. Dream about things you will get when you can afford them, and use them to set financial goals
You still need to take time for self-care, and a walk, a bike ride with the kids, or other low to no cost activities can help you relax without breaking the bank.
One of the most expensive things we all do is eating out. The meal you pay $40 for four people to eat can be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Careful shopping can bring you great food at home and cooking together can also be a great activity.
Sometimes we eat out just for convenience or because we don’t want to cook that night. To prevent that, have food that is quick to prepare on hand. Even get a cookbook with fast meals and make the ingredients a part of your shopping list.
If you do decide to eat out, look up the happy hour at your local restaurants. You can save a bundle on food by sharing plates of appetizers. If you combine them well, they will be more than enough for a meal.
It is almost always better to eat in than eat out. The food will be healthier, and it will cost you a lot less. That dinner out will not be worth it when your finances are superbly tight.
Sometimes to get through times when money is short, you will have to borrow. There are of course a number of ways to do this. You can use credit cards if you have them or take out a short-term personal loan.
Unfortunately, sometimes when money is tight the circumstances also impact your credit score. Even if you have less than perfect credit, there are personal loans that are available to you. Be sure to check the terms and interest rates, and never borrow more than you can afford to pay back.
If you don’t have credit cards and don’t want to get a traditional loan from a lender, you could borrow from friends or family. Just be careful, pay back loans on time, and treat them like you would a loan from anywhere else. No loan is worth damaging a relationship.
Money can be tight from time to time due to circumstances beyond our control. You can keep yourself stable though if you follow these simple tips.