The following is a guest post by Lisa at Wallet Watcher, an Australian personal finance blog created to help readers figure out how to properly manage their finances.
Times are tight, whether you’re just starting out in the career world, or (as in my own experience) perhaps you’ve been hit by the global recession and then forced to take a lower paying job. Whatever the case may be, many people find themselves having to function on meager paychecks.
This doesn’t mean that you have to live paycheck to paycheck or cover daily living expenses on credit. It just means you have to find ways to make your income go further.
Keep It Simple, Sweetie
Some people are intimidated by the word “budget.” They think it requires a lot of complex mathematical equations, becoming an Excel spreadsheet guru, or purchasing expensive personal finance software with lots of bells and whistles. There is an easier way! Keep it simple. A budget may be implemented by using something as basic as a ledger book purchased at the office supply store – or even just a spiral notebook! The important thing is to consistently log your income and expenditures. Take a weekend afternoon to review your finances. Set up an action plan to manage your financial situation. Visualizing how much you have coming in vs. how much you spend each month will help you
And while it may be true that you’ll have to make some sacrifices, even cutting out little things like your daily visit to the coffee Barista from the overpriced organic restaurant around the corner from your job will make a huge difference.
Live Like You’re a Student
University students generally don’t have very much money, and as a result are forced to find creative ways to make ends meet. Granted, you are probably making more money now than when you were a student, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your frugal ways.
Taking on some college-life budgeting techniques, like finding a roommate and using public transportation, are great ways to save some money. You can also start buying in bulk at your local wholesaler store: if you can’t afford the upfront investment into bulk purchasing, grab a friend and head off to CostCo together. Agree on the most important staple foods prior to purchasing. Divvy up the items later on.
Shop on the Fringe
When the economy took a dive in 2006, thrift stores, consignment shops, pawn shops and food outlet retailers found their businesses booming. Some of my best purchases come from the thrift shop. From a new business suit, to snow boots, to furniture, shops like ARC, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity truly turn “one man’s trash into another man’s treasure.” And the great thing about it is that a portion of the proceeds go to a worthy cause. Food outlets are another resource that more people are utilizing. End-of-lot specials, cans with small dents, and staple foods like cereal, noodles or rice which are slightly past their expiration date are some of the bargains you’ll find at a food outlet retailer.
In all, times are tough, but that doesn’t mean your finances have to suffer completely. With some smart moves and fiscal responsibility you can make ends meet while you find your way.
What bargain outlets do you utilize in trying to stick to a family budget? Share your tips with us here.