Facing a tight budget is something that many people experience during their life. Regardless of how common it is, if it happens to you it can be embarrassing, stressful, and demoralizing.
If you are having trouble making ends meet, there are a few things you can do to help get your budget back on track.
Develop a Plan
The most important thing you can do is sit down and make a plan for your spending. Having your expenses and upcoming bills floating around in your head is not a way to get a handle on your budget, and it creates additional stress. Sit down and write out every expense you have, from utility bills to grocery money. How does it compare to your income? Once you have everything in writing, you can see how much money you need each month and how far off you are. You may find that not having a plan for your expenses made it seem like you had less money than you thought, and by cutting back a bit on discretionary spending, you can get back on track.
Free Up Extra Savings
If you are still short, look at ways you can free up money in your existing budget. Some choices are obvious, such as cutting spending on groceries, but there is a limit to those cuts. Consolidating your existing student loans can free up a significant amount of money each month. Consolidating your loans and extending the repayment terms may lower your monthly payment enough to balance your budget.
If consolidation sounds like it would work for you, or you want more information on the process, take a look at guides online to answer your questions, let you know what to expect during the process, and help you decide if it is the right choice for you.
Seek Out a Side Hustle
Do you need more funds to create a little breathing room? Consider getting a part-time job. Even working a few shifts a week can add up quickly, providing enough funds to cover some of your costs or build your emergency fund. Working part-time can also offer benefits that go beyond pay.
Working as a server or host at a restaurant may entitle you to a free meal for each shift you work, while working at a gym may provide a free membership.
Prioritize Your Payments
If funds are still tight, it may be time to prioritize what you pay. Get in touch with each of your utility providers and ask about payment options. They may have low-income assistance or the ability to put you on a payment plan that allows you to spread your costs out over the year. You can cut back on services you don’t need, such as the fastest internet offered or your landline if you rarely use it.
Credit card companies are often willing to negotiate a lower interest rate if it allows you to stay current on your payments, but they may view it as a red flag and lower your credit limit. Regardless of the potential hit to your credit, staying up to date can ease your peace of mind and help reduce stress while you work through this difficult period.