It happens to everybody every now and again, and especially so after we’ve had holidays, or celebrations, or any of the year regular events that drain us of our money: we suddenly find ourselves without much cash to hand. So little, in fact, that we’re kind of nervously looking at our bank balance and wondering if we’ll make through to the next payday without dying of starvation. That’s entirely up to you: there are always ways to scrimp and save money, as we outline below. Take our advice, and you’ll make it to payday (relatively) unscathed!
Listing the Priorities
First thing’s first, we need to make a list of how much money we have and then a priority list of all the necessary expenses. Top of this will be food and rent: once those two are taken care of, you should be able to make it through to the next month, even if you’re not drowning in luxuries! But of course, in this day and age, there are expenses too, such as running your car, paying bills, and so on. Make a list, and you’ll be in a better position to see how dire your situation is.
Smart with the Food
It’s always, always possible to eat cheaply – and it doesn’t have to be terrible food either. For some people, those who are accustomed to having nice meals each night, this will be an eye-opener, but at least you’ll learn something. There won’t be any steaks on your plate; more rice and mixed beans with tomato sauce. That last meal works out at a very cost efficient way to eat, and while it might be low on flavor it’ll be high on nutritional content!
Just Say No
Until you get paid, you’re going to have to become a master at saying no. Those after work drinks everyone in the office is going to? You’ll have to skip them for a few weeks. Some people put on a brave face and continue socializing like everything is normal, but remember that there’s no shame in telling people money’s tight and you’ll have to bow out for a few weeks. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to have drinks with your friends in the future. For now, the focus has to be on getting your money in order.
New Social Life
Having said that, just because money is tight doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit. It just means that you’ll have to do a different kind of socializing. For example, instead of spending Friday nights in a bar, invite friends around for a few drinks in. You’ll have to spend money, but only a fraction of what you’d spend if you went out, and you get to see your friends. If the weather is nice, sitting out in your garden can be more enjoyable than being out on the town anyway.
Finding Extra Cash
Your bank balance might not make for great reading, but that’s not your only source of cash. There are other options available. For example, you can get a payday loan, or dip into any savings you have. Friends and family members might also be able to help if you tell them the situation that you’re in. Also, don’t neglect those pots of loose change you’ve been saving for a while – digging around the house for money could be enough to have a meal or two.
No Extra Surprises
You’ll likely have bills that you need to pay this month. You can’t avoid paying them, but you can try to make sure that they’re as small as possible. If you have a phone bill, for example, then make sure you don’t rack up any extra charges that’ll inflate your bill, because this is one month when you really can’t afford to pay extra just because you wanted to talk on the phone a bit longer. If you need to call a company at a number that isn’t free, take a look online to see if there’s a free (or cheaper) alternative, as there usually is.
Make the Most of What You Have
Yes, you might not be having the most exciting month of your life, but don’t write it off just yet. This is your chance to reconnect with some of the items and people you already have in your life. You might find that you’ve got a stack of books that you haven’t yet read: now is the perfect opportunity. Also, when it comes to food, take a look through all those drawers for tinned foods and other non-perishable goods. You might have a whole week’s worth of food just sitting there.
Saving money by finding substitutes for your usual daily expenses is just the beginning. To really make the most of it, get creative: don’t see this as a solely bad thing, see it as a chance to live differently for a few weeks. What can you come up with, when you really need to? You might discover that you’re a whizz in the kitchen with only a few ingredients, or that you’re better at entertaining yourself than you realized.
Make a Plan for the Future
While it might seem a bit doom and gloom, this is a chance to learn some lessons. You should make a plan for the future so that this doesn’t become a regular occurrence. It might be the wake-up call you need to get your finances in order and to be more responsible. These type of things are only bad if you fail to learn any lessons from them, so take a proactive approach and make the decision to be better with your money in the future.
It’s easy to beat yourself up when you’re running low on cash, but as we said at the beginning, these things can happen to anyone. It’s just a drop in the ocean; in five years, you won’t remember the few weeks you spent without money. Don’t worry, and it’ll soon pass, like everything else.