Financial trouble is something that every person deals with. It’s easy, when you find yourself facing a mountain of debt and bills to panic. It’s easy to get caught up in hand wringing and worrying about how you’ll survive. Eventually, though, you have to take a deep breath and make a plan. Hopefully you’re not at the point of needing a survival budget just yet. Here are the places to start.
1. Can You Move?
Whether you buy or rent, it’s always possible to move to a cheaper home. For example, you can sell your elaborate house and move into a cozy apartment. If you’re already renting, could there be a smaller and cheaper place that you can rent instead (after you give proper notice)? Downsizing your living space can reduce your bills in a number of different ways no matter where you live. It makes no difference if your home is in Miami, Florida, London, England, or even Brisbane, Australia.
If you’re worried about the cost of downsizing, don’t. These days it’s possible to find local storage spaces for incredibly affordable rates. You can use this space to store the things you need but don’t have the space on hand (holiday decorations, hand me downs, etc).
What’s more—as you go through and pare down you can sell the things you decide to get rid of and use that money to help you with your financial situation.
2. Do You Have to Have a Car?
Selling your car (particularly if you don’t owe anything on it anymore) is a great way to get an influx of cash to put toward your debt. What’s more, if you walk and bike almost everywhere, you’ll be getting exercise regularly and can cancel your gym membership (saving even more money).
A note about public transit: Do you truly need to take public transit? Yes, it’s convenient on days with bad weather or if you have a long way to go but how often will you actually take it. This will help you figure out whether or not a monthly pass is a better investment than a simple book of tickets.
3. How Do You Entertain Yourself?
You probably don’t need an extensive cable television package. Use the library instead. Libraries have books, music, movies and even television shows on DVD—and all for free! Trade your cable subscription for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime memberships (which, even combined, come in at less annually than you have probably been spending on your cable TV package each month).
Go for walks instead of going to the movies. Go to flea markets to explore (but leave your wallet at home). Get together with friends and play games instead of going to a bar.
There are lots of ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money!
By now you are undoubtedly taking measures to reduce your grocery bills and electricity consumption. When the small things don’t work, though, it’s time to look at bigger sacrifices and changes. Trust us when we tell you that, though they are painful in the beginning, being able to pay off your debt quickly will make them well worth it in the end.
Before making drastic lifestyle changes in order to find the money you need, first consider secondary changes to standard of living. For example, instead of downsizing a mortgage and selling a house, what are the refinancing options? Some types of mortgage refinance amortization plans free up monthly funds usually tied up in mortgage payments.
Another big area is household services such as cable, cell phone services, landline and utilities. These can often be tweaked or restructured to still provide entertainment and functional communication and make a little extra money available.
Edward Antrobus says
“Trade your cable subscription…” I’m actually getting fairly tired of debating this everywhere. Network television stations now require a cable subscription to be able to stream shows that are less than 8 days old. Meanwhile, to cancel my DirecTV subscription early would incur a fee that simply doesn’t make the savings worthwhile at all.
And of course, if you live in a poor cell area, then a landline can be a necessity.
Tomasz Gorski says
A really interesting post Pauline! Yes of course, it’s a bit difficult to leave all the luxuries that you are habituated to, all of a sudden; but then it serves to be an easy solution as well! I quite liked the idea of going for a walk instead of a movie or gaming with friends instead of going to the bar – they are good for your health as well!
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
All great tips, Pauline. We left cable/satelite tv behind several months back and don’t miss it a bit!
Tomasz Gorski says
Thanks Pauline for approving my comment. Keep up the good work.