Ginger Dean, Contributor, Forbes
For many people, it seems that we just about get caught up on bills when another one arrives — leaving us without that financial cushion until the next pay check arrives.
There’s a fix for that! No matter how in the red you may be, there are numerous ways to find extra money when you need it — and it may not be as difficult as you might think.
In fact, one thing that most personal finance consultants pride themselves on is being able to find extra money in your budget no matter what your situation is.
Here are some creative ideas for taking a look at your finances and finding ways that you can be saving rather than spending each month:
Eliminate premium/cable channels
One of the best things to do when trying to find extra money is to eliminate unnecessary expenses. This can start with forgoing unneeded items like premium cable channels that in some cases could be costing an additional $50 — $150 per month or more. If you want to be even more daring, eliminate cable altogether and stick with Netflix or Hulu, especially if you don’t watch much live TV.
Eat at home/bring lunch to work
Although it’s fun to go out for lunch or dinner, it can also be expensive. Eating at home can not only allow you the ability to be creative with your cooking, but it can also save you a great deal of money over going out. This also goes for taking in leftovers for lunch versus eating in restaurants or the work cafeteria every day. Take this a step further and eat at home on the weekends and after work. Who doesn’t like a night out at a nice restaurant? Your wallet. Try it and see how much you save. You’re looking at saving $200 — $500 or more per month.
Because gas has become so expensive, it may make sense to carpool to work with others who live near you. This way, each person will only need to drive a fraction of the time — saving a great deal of money in regular fuel costs. Get your local coworkers together and alternate driving in as a group to save on gas, tolls, public transportation and parking.
Watch movies / sporting events at home rather than going out
Movie tickets exceed $10 — $15 in many areas of the country — and the price of concessions can be even more! Therefore, consider watching movies and sporting events at home. This will save in numerous ways — including the price of tickets, concessions, parking and gas.
Update your cell phone plan
Many of us are unaware that we are paying for services that we may never use. Therefore, read through your cell phone plan. If there are features that you are not using, cancel them. This, too, could save a great deal of money every month. The popular services like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T often have plans that cost over $100 per month. Slash that in half and go with a lesser known provider with literally half the cost. Savings: at least $50 per month.
Before you equate this with going on a diet, read the rest. Think about all the junk you buy that only leads to weight gain, increased sugar levels and/or increased cholesterol levels. Even if you just cut out the junk food, you’ll see a decrease in how much you’re spending on groceries every month. You’ll eat smaller, healthier meals which means less spent monthly on groceries.
Shop with a list
This ties in with “eat responsibly.” Before heading to the store, be sure that you make a list of specific items that you need — and then stick to it. This should help you to avoid unnecessary or impulse purchases, no matter how much you think you may need such items!