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There’s nothing quite like pre-payday blues. When you’re getting towards the end of the month and realise you haven’t quite got enough cash to keep you covered, life can be pretty stressful. Living paycheck to paycheck can become disheartening quickly, especially if you don’t have savings to fall back on in an emergency. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. Although it might be a struggle at times, making goals, planning, and managing your money a little better can give you a lot more breathing room. If you need some help to make your money go further, here are nine useful tips.
9 Ways To Make Your Money Go Further
Evaluate your finances
Before you can start to make changes, you need to evaluate whether there is a problem with the way you’re living and spending. Taking a look through your bank statements and bills to spot the places where you’re overspending is a great first step. A good way to get a comprehensive overview of your spending habits is to try using a spending tracker for a bit.
Stick to a budget
If you don’t have one already, it’s a good idea to go ahead and create a budget. This means taking a seat and going through your finances.
List all your income, and your outgoings, both fixed expenses and expenses that vary. This will give you an overview of how much money you should have left, once your bills are paid.
It might take some time, but, if things go to plan, you should be able to identify areas you’re spending too much money and come up with a few ways to keep costs low. Once you’ve planned your budget, try to stick to it as much as possible. You can use our free budget calculator here to help work out your budget.
Avoid using credit cards
Credit cards can be a useful tool to have, but only if you use them wisely. There’s no point in paying for something on your credit card if you know you aren’t going to be able to make repayments each month. All this means is that you’ll be charged huge amounts of interest and your debts will quickly build. If you’re not sure you can afford something, it’s better to avoid using your credit card, and wait to buy things when you’ve saved up the cash to pay for them.
Pay bills on time
If you’ve chosen to pay for something using your credit card, then it’s vital that you make repayments on time. More often than not, if you pay your bills late or don’t pay them at all, you’ll be charged higher interest rates and fees, leaving you in more debt. In fact, you should try to pay all of your bills on time to avoid late payment charges, loss of service or recurring debts.
Shop around for everything
Although it might be quicker, you should try not to pay the first price you see for something. Regardless of whether you’re looking to buy a bag of oranges or hire solicitors, you should always do your research and see if you can get a better deal.
A great way to cut costs is to consider cheaper alternatives to the things you regularly pay for. For example, instead of buying branded ibuprofen or other medicines, you should get the supermarket or unbranded version. It is exactly the same thing, without the fancy packaging or marketing. The same goes for groceries – it’s always worth trying a switch to a cheaper brand – you’ll often find the unbranded version is just as good quality as the branded. If not, you can always switch back.
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Beware of bargain traps
When you’re living on a tight budget, bargain hunting can become your life. You’re constantly on the lookout for coupons in magazines, discount codes on websites, and deals in supermarkets. However, it’s important that you only use these things if it actually makes sense to do so. After all, you still have to pay for whatever you’re buying, regardless of how cheap it is, so you should make sure that you actually need it before you take it to the checkout and pay.
Learn to say no
Sorting out your finances can often come with a fair bit of sacrifice, especially if you need to make some serious changes. After all, you can’t continue the way you’re living, if that’s what got you into financial trouble in the first place. Because of this, you may have to learn to start saying “no” now and again. This could be “no” to your morning coffee shop coffee or “no” to the meal out with your friends. This could be a struggle at times, but it’s sometimes necessary to make your money last.
It doesn’t mean having no fun though, it could just be finding creative ways to still do things while saving money. For example, instead of visiting the cinema, host a home movie night and pop your own corn.
Consider changing your contracts
Considering how expensive they can be, it’s worth it to look at your energy, insurance, and mobile phone contracts and see if you can get a better deal. A lot of the time, companies are willing to give you a discount if it means you remain their customer and don’t switch to a competitor. You might also want to change your contracts slightly so that you’re not being charged for parts you don’t use. After all, there’s no point in paying for something you don’t need. It’s also always worth checking for cashback when you take out a new contract as you can often find a good cashback offers for energy and insurance providers.
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Ask professionals for help
If you’ve made all of the changes you can think of and are still struggling, then you might want to speak to a financial adviser. Your problems aren’t going to go away on the own, and will possibly get worse if ignored. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. It might not be easy, but you’ll probably be thankful that you did it. After all, these people are professionals and will be able to suggest plans and ideas that you may not have thought of on your own.
Living month to month is far from fun, so if you want to make your money go further you need to take control of your budget and your spending. Whether this means skipping drinks with friends or negotiating your contact with your mobile phone company, re-evaluating your finances should hopefully help you find some areas where you can make money-saving changes. It might be a challenge at times, but if you stick with it and stay motivated, you should start to see the benefits pretty soon.
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