Making Ends Meet

Living pay check to pay check is an art form. It takes a lot of juggling and awareness to maneuver limited finances successfully. While it can be frustrating at times, it is not necessary to live like Ebenezer Scrooge.

First, you must know what you are making and what your bills come to every month. While you don’t have to compile a strict budget you should be aware of what bills come out of what paycheck. If all your bills are due at the same time every month it can be a struggle. If at all possible, try to have your bills divided in a manner that you have the same amount due out of every paycheck. This way you know that every paycheck you must have said amount reserved for living expenses.

Next, even on a minimal budget it is important to save. It doesn’t have to be a lot, even if it is only ten dollars a paycheck. If you can set up a direct deposit to go to a savings account every payday you will have a little cushion for life’s little mishaps. When the money is directly deposited from your check, you won’t even notice it missing and you won’t have to stress about how you are going to cover it when your car breaks down or the furnace quite working in the middle of winter.

Stay away from cash advances. When living on a minimal budget it can be tempting to get a payday loan when you come up short. The problem occurs when you pay it back you won’t be able to make ends meet during that pay period. Cash advances become a vicious cycle, where you end up having to get a new one to make up for the money you paid for your old one. It can be very difficult to get out from under them.

When it comes to your regular bills, decide what are necessities and what bills you can do without. If you have a home phone and a cell phone, get rid of the one that is used the least. If you have magazine subscriptions, rent movies from Netflix or are buying music for an mp3 player, you can do all that for free at your library. If you are paying for cable and have internet, you can cancel your cable and watch almost any show online at the hulu or TV duck websites.

There are also many ways to cut back on utilities, like keeping the thermostat down, switching to florescent bulbs and limiting your water usage. Some utility companies also offer programs where you pay a set amount every month, instead of having your bills jump around. This also nice because bills normally jump up in winter, right around Christmas time when most people are short on cash.

If you are tight on cash it is important to shop around for the best deals. From car insurance to groceries, making sure you are getting the best deal is a time honored way of surviving a short budget.  Use the internet to browse shopping ads find coupons and cheek insurance quotes.

Another way to lower your expenses is to pass on driving when you don’t need to. If it is a short walk to the post office, library or a friends house and the weather is nice, there is no reason to spend the gas money. Also, if you are heading to the store on foot, you are more likely to buy only what you need because you have to carry it home.

Everyone deserve a little rest and relaxation. The money spent on entertainment can be outrageous. Just because you are short on cash doesn’t mean that you have to pass on activities you enjoy. If you like to play sports, skip joining a league and instead get a group of friends or coworkers together for a game of basketball or football every Tuesday at the local park. If you like to read, start a book club. A deck of cards is only a dollar or two and there are so many games you can play. Have friends over for a Texas hold-em or a euchre tournament. In most areas you can find free entertainment like concerts or art shows on local websites. You would be surprised at all the things there are to do that don’t cost a thing.

Surviving on a low budget takes effort, but with time becomes easier. If you are conscientious of your finances and careful with your spending, then you won’t have a problem. Just remember, even with the smallest budget it is important to take sometime to enjoy life.