Of course, you’re not totally broken, you just don’t have extra cash at the moment, and you’re struggling just to get by. Badly wounded, bent double, and stretched to the max… But not broken.
It’s really uncomfortable to be broke, stressful, counterproductive to living well, and a few other things we probably don’t need to tell you.
While there may be some things outside of your control, when money’s tight, you can generally make better decisions to give yourself a ‘slight of hand’ raise. Some things, you DO control.
In fact, I’m going to say that you can either prolong your financial lull by continuing to make bad financial choices, such as spending money like you HAVE it, or you can cut back for a few seasons and get your money management back into control.
Here’s a good starting list of what NOT to do when you’re strapped for cash.
Don’t take out a loan for a new car, or for any other reason. Just don’t do it. You can’t afford another monthly payment right now, and if you take out a loan, you’ll be struggling to make another payment. Don’t do it.
Don’t go on an expensive vacation. You can’t afford it. Don’t do it. If you have money saved up for a vacation, use that to pay up your bills, fix your car, or do the things you NEED to do, instead of taking that vacation.
Don’t loan money to someone else, or cosign for them. If you’re lagging on your own bills, don’t help someone else because it puts you further behind on your own bills.
Don’t spend money on non-necessities. Reining in your spending and purchase only what you really need. Don’t buy extras, and don’t buy excessively. Put more money in savings, or on bills instead.
Keep spending to a minimum until you have more money to spend.
Don’t eat in restaurants. Buy groceries and go home to cook them. You’ll be healthier, your food will taste better, and you’ll save money. Three for one… Just do it.
Do take lunches to work – left overs are amazing lunches. Plan for them.
Don’t pay for cable television. Cut the costs of entertainment, instead of watching television, go for a walk, go to a local park, or play a board game, or cards… $1.99 will buy a pack of cards.
Don’t go partying with friends. You can’t afford this added expense. You’ll be picking up the tab and spending money you don’t have. Don’t do it.
Don’t pay excessive amounts of additional payment. Do pay your bills on time to reduce the late fees, and additional costs. (If you can add just $1 extra to credit card debt, you’ll start paying it off faster.)
Don’t move to more expensive housing. You can’t afford it. Don’t do it.
Don’t ignore bills or bank statements. Ignorance is not bliss. Make sure you keep up with banking and stay in the black. Overdrafts are expensive.
Don’t pretend you have money that you don’t have. When people think you have money, they’ll expect you to spend money. You don’t have to tell everyone you’re broke, but don’t pretend you have money to blow – even to yourself.
Don’t quit your job before you have another. Good advice anytime, if you don’t have a job, it’s more difficult to find a job. Stay in the work force, and keep your cashflow coming in.
Don’t waste your time. Be productive and proactive about changing your financial situation. Get a part-time job, earn money with a hobby, or study to improve your skills so you can find a better job.
Don’t lie to your spouse about money. Keeping money secrets from your spouse will not benefit your financial woes and may worsen them by putting you at risk for divorce.
Don’t spend savings and emergency fund on things that aren’t emergencies. If you have savings, keep it there, and earn more to pay your bills. You’ll NEED that savings in the event of a crisis.
Don’t waste anything. Eat your food, minimize your electricity and water use, and cut the costs of your expenses.
Don’t drive unnecessarily. Combine errands and minimize driving time to save on gas.
Find inexpensive ways to spend time with family. Free date night! Invite your spouse to take a stroll in the evening and enjoy the sunset, or sunrise. Coffee dates are generally cheaper than dinner dates – find ways to cut costs and still celebrate your life together.
These are just a few of the many things you can do to cut costs of living if you’re broke. You make choices every day – make better choices about spending money. And pay those bills.