With the rising costs of food, housing, fuel, medicines, and household bills, it’s not surprising that many people find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Never mind buying a top of the range car, spending on a lavish holiday or having your dream kitchen fitted, for some people, just kitting the kids out with school uniform or paying the gas and electric bills can be a real cause for worry.
Not easy if your money going out is more than you have coming in, is it? And it is frustrating if you are not being frivolous with your spending, rather, you are just paying for the necessities and getting by. Getting to the end or even the middle of the month with no money left is hard, and especially when it happens regularly. Even more stressful and upsetting is when you have children to consider. We all want to see them well fed, clothed, warm and comfortable. And when birthdays and Christmas come around, finding the money for those extra treats can be almost impossible, with the pressure to provide and keep up with everyone else tremendous. This is where you need a plan to help you to budget and ensure that every month is not a financial worry and struggle.
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Make a Plan
Sitting down and making a plan of how you are going to manage your money each month is a good start. Write it down so that you can really visualise what you are going to do. It doesn’t matter if you put it on a screen or paper. Write down exactly what you spend and exactly what you have coming in. Keeping receipts from shops and cafes will help you to keep track more easily. It also helps to get it clearer in your mind, so that you can then actually act on it.
If you have any debt, such as loans, try and get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you and free up money. Aim to set aside a set amount every month and make a target goal for when you hope to pay it off. Not easy when money is short but it really does help. Try and visualise what that extra money each month will help to pay for and this will give you the incentive needed. Once you’ve got rid of your debt, don’t get into anymore. If you can’t afford it, and it’s not vital, then do without or you’ll end up back where you were.
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Keep a Track of Your spending
Keeping a strict and precise track of your spending will really help you to know exactly where your money is going. You make think that you don’t spend a lot on non-vital things but those take out coffees or branded food products all add up. Do the children, especially teenagers, really need to wear designer labels and can you shop around in the sales to get the best bargains? Also, rethink where you shop. Some of the cheaper supermarket products are equally as good as the more expensive competitors. You may also want to think of not always buying new items. Second-hand items are always cheaper and will save you lots. Look online on the popular selling sites and don’t be shy of browsing around charity shops: You get a good deal and so does a good cause. Don’t forget to look at what you already have. Are there unwanted toys, outgrown or unloved items of clothing that you can sell on? Maybe a car boot or advertising on free sites can generate you a bit of extra cash.
People on a low income often have bad credit. This makes it impossible to obtain things like credit cards. If you have a bill to pay and no money, try a short-term loan to cover the cost or ask the family to help out. As long as you pay back a short-term loan, it won’t get you into debt.
What Help Can You Get?
Are you sure that you are getting any benefits that you are entitled to? Are your children eligible to free school meals or help with funding school visits and uniforms? Can you get help with prescription costs, dental or optician care? Go in and ask at school or your doctors, dentist, and optician for some guidance.
Remember to stay positive, have clear goals and aims. Being in control of your spending will give you more confidence. And don’t forget to allow a small treat each week or month, even if it’s only a bar of chocolate or a bunch of flowers. It will keep you going and help you to stay focused and on track.