Tuesday, June 14, 2011

29 Ways to Create Breathing Room in a Budget

Sometimes you have to quickly create some breathing space in your budget.

When you need to find extra money fast, what can you do (besides hit the payday loan places, which is a really bad idea!)? Here are twenty-nine ideas that can be implemented quickly. 

*Katie’s thoughts in pink!

1. Sell stuff: Have a yard sale or put your goods on Craigslist. We have had some success with this…a lot of work, but well worth it at the end!

2. Return things: If you have any purchases that you haven’t opened or used yet, take them back immediately. The cash or credit on your credit card will help.

3. Drop/downgrade subscriptions/memberships: Drop or don’t renew anything like Netflix, cable TV, gym memberships you don’t need or use, and any magazine/newspaper subscriptions you have.  Over the past few months we have dropped Netflix ($10), cable tv ($30-34 savings) and our gym membership ($70).  $110!!

4. Sell a car: If you can get by with one car (or none), sell one and pocket the cash. If you don’t want to sell, park the car and remove the plates. You won’t have to pay for insurance that way. Or, you can sell your expensive car and get a small beater to get around town in.

5. Ask for lower interest rates: Call your credit card company and ask if you can get a lower rate. They might oblige.

6. Refinance: If you can afford the closing costs and substantially lower your monthly payment, refinancing may save you more in the coming months.

7. Get aggressive with your utilities: Turn off everything that’s not in use and turn off everything at night. Take shorter showers. Do less laundry and dishes or at least make sure the machines are full. Line dry clothes. Keep the house warmer or cooler than usual and either put on a sweater or turn on a fan. Utility use is one of those things that is within your control, so take advantage of that and cut as much as you can.  Other options? www.myutilitybrokers.com/kirkhambrokers

8. Stop eating out : Not only meals, but stop getting coffees, pastries, and other snacks away from home.

9. Buy generic: When times are tough, brand loyalty needs to go. Buy the cheapest brand you can get.

10. Modify your insurance: Call your insurance agent and ask if there are any discounts. If not, shop around. Ask about raising your deductibles. Make sure you’re not paying for double coverage and make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need. Don’t drop your insurance altogether.

11. Cancel your cell phone or your landline: If you can get out of your contract or it is ending, switch to a prepaid cell phone and limit your usage. If you can cancel your landline phone, do it.

12. Cancel services: If you have a maid, landscaper, handyman or any other service provider, drop them.

13. Stop smoking or drinking: Expensive and bad habits need to go.

14. Stop shopping recreationally: Make lists and stick to them. Don’t go to the stores if you don’t have to. Beware the $10 Target trip that morphs into $100…or in our case?  COSTCO!

15. Get rid of pets: It’s harsh and I would only use it as a last resort, but pets are expensive. You can save a bundle if you can find them new homes. Best decision we ever made.  (Granted, she didn’t fit our family….)

16. Learn to coupon: You don’t have to resort to extremes, but you can cut your food, cleaning, and hygiene budgets by a decent sum.

17. Make your own cleaning products: I’m amazed at how much cleaning products cost. You can make your own with vinegar and baking soda for pennies. We will be giving a recipe to make your own laundry detergent!

18. Stop charitable giving: I’m all for giving to charities and churches when you can afford it, but if you can’t afford it stop it for a time. Don’t agree with this one 100%.  Keep up with the tithing=blessing.  Just my personal experience!

19. Cancel any planned vacations: If you’ve paid deposits, cancel and get those back. You can rebook later.   Try a stay-cation.    Much more affordable and you can find new adventures close to home!

20. Pull kids out of activities: Things like sports, clubs, and other activities are expensive. Stop paying for memberships and lessons until things are better. The kids probably won’t like it, but you have to do what you need to do to get by.

21. Pull kids out of private school: Tuition is high and your kids will survive in public school until you can get them back into that private school. At the very least, ask the school if there is any aid available.

22. Stop paying for your adult children: Too many people are paying for weddings or tuitions to the detriment of their own finances. These kids are adults. Let them find their own way to pay for some stuff. If they’re living with you, make them pay rent.

23. Renegotiate your bills: Call your phone, Internet, TV, cell phone, or trash providers and ask for a discount. Many will give you something to retain you as a customer. Some may have money saving alternatives that you didn’t know about. Ask nicely. We have done this a few times with our cable.  They were willing to give us a few months at a cheaper rate, just to stick with them!

24. Find new places to shop: Stop shopping at the expensive supermarket and try the lower priced markets or farmer’s markets. Don’t shop high end department stores, shop the big box stores. Try dollar stores. There are plenty of places to get what you need for less. We shop at Aldis.  Much cheaper priced food (for the unique things we go to the grocery store.)  Be very weary of the big box stores.  We used to go to Costco and spend $100-200 each time we went…”Sure, we’ll only buy toilet paper.”  {righhhtttt…} 

25. Eat what you already have: Make meals from what you already have on hand rather than heading to the store. You may have to make some strange combinations, but it’s cheaper than shopping.

26. Ask for help: If things are really bad, ask for help from your church, family, friends, food banks, or government assistance programs. Don’t abuse the generosity, but such programs are there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get you through.

27. Collect any money you’re owed: Send in any rebates you have lying around, cash in any points at rewards and survey sites, and call in any debts owed by family, friends, or people you’ve done work for. Check your state’s unclaimed property office to see if you have any outstanding money owed to you.

28. Cut entertainment: No more movies or store bought books and DVD’s. Borrow from the library or friends, instead. If you have to go out, look for free options.

29. Put the kids on the bus: In our area, the school system provides bus service, paid for with taxpayer’s money. But many parents drive their kids to and from school because it’s “convenient.” It’s also expensive because it wastes gas. You’re already paying for the bus. You might as well use it.

Some of these things will work for you and others won’t. You may find some of these ideas insensitive. That’s okay. Everyone has different priorities and things that they are willing to do. Take what you can use from this piece and ignore the rest. However, if you need to quickly open up some space in your budget you should at least consider anything and everything, even if it seems drastic. When things get better, you can always add in the things you miss.

Found article here.


Laura said...

AWESOME LIST! I'm bookmarking this!

The McLane Blog Page: said...

these are all fantastic ideas!