I have been talking with friends and family a lot lately about ways to get out of a financial pinch. We’ve all been there. That month where medical bills, utilities, car payments, house payments and groceries are just too much. If only we had an extra $100, $300 or $500, we could at least catch our breath enough to formulate a plan and get back on track. Whether or not you are experiencing this right now chances are you have been or know someone who is currently. Now, I’m not magic and can’t make money appear out of thin air but there are a few things I’ve learned either from personal experience or the experiences of others that I want to share with you.
This may seem elementary but to to start we have two options. Increase our income or lower our expenses. We will focus on increasing our income to start. Your days are probably pretty full so when looking at adding some extra money to our budget we need it to be easy and quick. Here are a few legit ways to earn some extra cash this month.
Clean out your closets. Here is my challenge. This Saturday find 13 items in your house to sell. 10 smaller items like clothes, toys, kitchen items that you can sell for only $5. Find 2 larger items worth $20 each. Maybe it is a small piece of furniture, higher end kitchen gadget, a nicer jacket, etc. And lastly one item worth $10. This probably won’t take you very long at all. Take a picture and post on your Facebook account. You will be surprised how quickly items with a low dollar amount will sell. And you just made $100!!
Mystery Shopping. You will not get rich through mystery shopping but it is a very easy way to make some extra money. Check out www.trendsource.com and see if there is availability in your area. There are many companies you can go through but I know for sure this one is legit. Jobs usually range from $14-20. Find a job once a week? There is an extra $56/month. The key is to purchase items you already need so you are actually making money and not breaking even on the shop.
Gather your spare change. Look in your car, junk drawers, wallets and even in the couch. You might be surprised and find an extra $20 or more. Every little bit counts, right?
Take on one free lance job per month or week. Are you a teacher? Maybe you could tutor at a local college. Are you a blogger? Write a guest post for a paying company. After school babysitting, cleaning a house, mowing a lawn, selling a craft on Etsy are all viable options.
Those 4 options could easily add $200 or more to your monthly budget. Who couldn’t use that, right? Now lets look at a few ways to lower our expenses.
Medical Bills. If you are overwhelmed with medical bills the first thing you need to do is get organized. Hospitals usually offer two options. Low payment plans or a reduction for full payment. Separate between what you can pay in full and what you can not. Make the payment over the phone and ask first if there is a price reduction for payment in full. The bills you cannot pay in full set up on a low payment plan. You can always pay more when you have it but this takes away the stress of trying to pay more than what you can really afford.
Car Payments. Do you have a car payment? Almost all companies have a skip a payment program. You can usually only do this once or twice a year and they do not advertise this but it is usually available. I only recommend this if you are desperate because that skipped payment will be added to the end of your loan making your payoff date later. However, for those months you just can’t get ahead, skipping a car payment is a huge help! I know people who have used this option to pay off a credit card or make a school tuition payment. I used it when my son was born to pay off an unexpected medical bill.
Heating/Electric Bills. Winter will be here before we know it which means extra large utilities payments. I hear this all the time and it makes budgeting very difficult. Not to mention that enormous electric bill can make Christmas shopping a little more daunting. Check with your provider about budget billing. They average your bills from the past year to determine your monthly amount. This of course means your lower utility bills will be larger but it will be the same throughout the year. This won’t lower your expenses all year but it will allow for consistency which is very important in budgeting. And you will have a reduction in your bill for those more expensive months.
Credit Cards. Most people have some sort of credit card debt and usually are looking for ways to get out from under that monthly credit card payment. If you are paying interest on that credit card your hard earned money is not going where it needs to be. This would be the first area of my budget I would focus on. Paying off that credit card would be my first priority.
In order to do that as soon as possible you need to eliminate having to pay interest. Almost every credit card has a 0% interest balance transfer promotion usually for 6, 12, or even 18 months. Start here. Transfer your balance to a card with this promotion and immediately begin paying as much as possible to eliminate this debt. Now 100% of your payment is lowering your actual debt instead of just a portion of it. This would be a good place to use that skipped car payment.
Groceries. As a family of five my grocery budget is a pretty big line item and constantly growing. Buying food for my family is not a discretionary expense but I can adjust the amount, quite a bit actually. The key to that is PLAN, PLAN and PLAN! Make out a dinner menu and grocery list and only buy what you know you will consume. Pinterest is an awesome place to find budget friendly recipes. Check out my Pork Chop & Rice recipe that is very easy on the budget and yummy too! I’m making it this week actually. I am not good at remembering to use coupons but this is another awesome way to save a little money month to month.
So, I hope this has been a helpful post for you guys. I have found myself in a financial pinch plenty of times and I have used all of these methods to bust out. Life is so busy and financial stress is a huge issue with many people. It is not always an easy fix but sometimes a little planning and rearranging can make a big difference. I’d love to hear your creative ways for making the most of your money and time. If you know someone who could benefit from this article I hope you pass it along. Have a great week!!