Unless you had an extremely privileged upbringing and have succeeded in maintaining that lifestyle for yourself into adulthood, you have almost definitely had to deny yourself something at some point due to a lack of funds. Whether that was a night out as a student, the furniture you really would have liked when you moved into your first house or that luxury holiday you’re dying to take your family on, financial restrictions have their impact on us all. Thankfully, low cash flow doesn’t have to mean a dull life; here are our top tips for making the best of life when there’s not much in the bank.
Organise your Priorities
Since childhood there have always been things we’ve wanted but couldn’t have, and as we’ve grown older these things have only become bigger and more expensive. The reality is that, amazing as these things can be, we quite simply don’t need them. Thinking carefully about where you spend money and sorting your expenditure into categories can help you to see where cutbacks need to be made.
Dividing your costs between ‘essentials, ‘basics’ and ‘extras’ is usually extremely useful. Essentials are the things that you can’t get by without, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and taxes, travel and food. Basics are then the things which aren’t fundamental to survival, but can’t be classed as unnecessary treats either, such as make-up for women or getting a haircut when needed. Extras, of course, are things that we don’t need but bring a little enjoyment and variety to our lives; perhaps this is eating out, buying new clothes or grabbing a takeaway coffee on your way to work every morning. Make sure you’ve got the essentials covered first and slot the others in afterwards; budgeting might mean cutting out some items, or it might simply mean sourcing cheaper alternatives for a few of them.
Make Space for Saving
It might seem slightly bizarre to talk of saving when the issue at hand is that there isn’t enough money in the first place, but saving a little each month will pay off in the long run. Include a sum of money to be put into savings when planning your monthly budget, and then when you’re really longing for something special you’ll have the money to treat yourself. Savings also mean you have a safety net in case of emergency, and won’t find yourself unable to pay your bills if a sudden expense becomes unavoidable.
Top-Up your Income
Finding ways to earn extra cash is difficult when you’re already working a full time job, or perhaps you have children to run around after or other commitments. However, there are a few options out there which can help gradually top-up your bank balance in ways that fit your schedule. A great example of this is paid surveys, which you can do on your smartphone wherever you are; they usually only take 8-15 minutes so you can fill them in on your commute or whilst waiting for dinner to cook. It’s true that this kind of activity won’t earn you heaps of money, but it could help justify that takeaway coffee as you head into the office, or a quick drink in the pub after work.
Budgeting is never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be life-draining either. If you have your priorities in order and are realistic about where and when you can treat yourself you’ll get by just fine.