Have you recently been let go from your job? Maybe you have money in savings to survive for a few months — but maybe not. Either way, you're going to have to get in the habit of making your money last. There are some obvious ways to cut expenses, like cutting cable, using coupons and only eating at home — but a lot of times this isn't enough. When your income is drastically reduced or cut completely, it's time to get serious about making ends meet financially.
Drastically reduce bills
You're probably thinking that all of your bills are here to stay — but that's where you're wrong. A lot of times, you can call credit card companies and student loan companies to ask that your payments be deferred. Not all credit card companies will do this, but it's worth a shot. Most student loan companies will put your loan in deferment (meaning you don't have to pay it for a certain period of time) as a result of a job loss.
Other ideas for reducing monthly bills include:
- Selling your car if you still have a car payment — Downsize to something smaller and more economically friendly, as it will also save you money on gas.
- Eliminating unnecessary bills — These include landscaping, housekeeping, gym memberships and possibly cable and internet. You can always use your library’s free services until your income increases.
- Saving on energy and water — Wash all laundry in cold water, keep your thermostat set at a few degrees from your ideal temperature and lower your water heater 10 degrees.
Partake in free and fun entertainment
Just because your income level has been reduced or eliminated doesn't mean your old life as you know it is over. In fact, you can easily adjust a few of your old habits and still have just as good a time without spending a dime. Instead of going out for happy hour with friends, invite them over to your place. Provide a bottle of wine and ask that everyone else bring their favorite food or beverage as well. Instead of working out at the gym, cancel your membership and get outside! Ask a friend to join you for a morning hike or take the kids on an evening walk. Instead of going to the movies, have a movie night at home — complete with popcorn!
Save on food and clothing
Food and clothing are necessary expenses, but they sure can add up. Commit to only buying clothes when needed and only when they're on sale. Consider trading in your old clothes for newer ones at clothing exchange stores, or even holding semiannual garage sales to get rid of them and make some extra money. When it comes to food, plan meals for every single week and only buy what’s necessary. Use coupons and purchase generic items instead of brand name. On most items, all of the ingredients are the same so you shouldn't even notice a difference in taste.
Overall, commit to living a simple lifestyle until you find a replacement job. If you find yourself barely able to survive, be willing to take on any job to make ends meet instead of waiting for your dream job. You can always continue searching for your dream job while working elsewhere.
More on budgeting
How to live off of 50 percent of your income
Tips for shopping on a budget
7 Tips for saving money at the supermarket: Boost your grocery budget