In the previous Blog, two important first steps were offered in the pursuit of regaining financial control: Developing a positive mindset, and building a realistic budget. But what if the budget seems too tight for one’s comfort, now what?

Lowering Expenses

Cost cutting options are as varied as the situations requiring this tactic. It might be comparing cell phone, cable, and internet providers, or even “cutting the cable” and opting for streaming services. Perhaps comparing insurance plans (do not forget about deductibles), and banks/credit unions with no monthly fees are warranted.

Groceries can be one of the larger expenses each month but there are ways to help here too! It is easy to be tempted by creative store ploys to prompt impulse buying right? It works to shop with a plan and stick to it and look down to the lower shelves to find less expensive items. Generic label products are often produced in the same factory as name brands. Unless you pay your credit cards off every month, also consider paying by cash to eliminate expensive credit card interest. My final favorite is to always check your receipt for errors and that all coupons and discounts have been applied. There are many ideas, search on reduce grocery bill and see what  works.

For entertainment, are you aware that free fun can be found by checking your local event calendars for activities and concerts? (Understandably these are limited for the time being due to Covid-19.) Local libraries rent books/e-books, video games, DVDs, and CDs, the latter a good temporary alternative to streaming service subscriptions. Finally, parks and local forestry are great ways to get outdoors with family and friends. (Again, these may be currently limited so check for group size limitations.)

Income Stream

Many gig businesses have started with a passion or a skill that others have expressed interest in. Assess your expertise in this light. Perhaps you are good at fixing things or have a creative flair for making things. Maybe, you love music, love number crunching, or are good at teaching people about various things. Some people might want to or are able to do it themselves, but there are others who are willing to pay for a variety of reasons.

Are there items you have accumulated that you no longer want or need? Chances are someone else does. Sell or consign items like clothing, furniture, old electronics, sports equipment, or anything else still in good working order. eBay is no longer the only avenue.  Check out apps like Letgo, Decluttr, and Facebook Marketplace to name a couple. These suggestions are not all-inclusive, make it a family affair and perhaps spark even more great ideas!

Saving

We have been reminded that paying ourselves first in the form of an emergency fund is a rather good idea. Saving is not second nature even in the best of times, it is difficult to think of rainy days when it is bright and sunny outside. Have you ever saved for a vacation, holiday shopping, or a car? There was an emotion in play then, and there is most likely one to motivate you for that emergency fund. Another type of saving is paying down high interest credit card debt and/or loans, so that eventually one can contribute to the interest bearing emergency fund not the interest draining credit card. A 3 to 6-month fund is generally sufficient, however, if your job is a narrow skill set, or one in danger of being replaced by automation, accommodate for the possibility that it may take time to be rehired.

Emergency funds are not accomplished overnight. It may take time to build, but contributing small amounts now is a place to start. As the fund grows you will be able move to move from standard interest savings accounts into higher interest money market accounts or shorter term accessible CD’s. As you are cutting expenses elsewhere and finding other income, reallocating the extra cash to your emergency fund will help it grow faster.

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