So you’ve found yourself in a tight financial spot. Maybe you’re not able to meet your monthly expenses, or you’ve lost your job and are suddenly facing a lack of income. Whatever the reason for your financial distress, there are ways to get your budget in check and back on track now.
Cut Back on Food Costs with Savvy Dining
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Most people believe that it’s cheaper to eat at home than it is to dine out at a restaurant. But that’s a shifting phenomenon, thanks to ever-rising food costs at the grocery checkout line. MSN Money compared meals at four popular chain restaurants to the cost of preparing those same meals at home. In three out of the four scenarios, dining out was cheaper. Here are a few tips for savvy food shopping:
- Clip coupons and shop at stores with rewards programs and double coupon offers.
- Buy in-season foods and specials.
- Don’t go crazy when you’re dining out, unless it’s a special occasion.
- Buy non-perishables in bulk to reduce trips to the store.
- Prepare large batches of soups and casseroles in advance and freeze meal-sized portions for quick weekday dinners. You’ll cut back on waste and save yourself some valuable time and money.
Start Paying Yourself First
You’ve probably heard the pay yourself first rule a few times before. It seems counter-intuitive to put money into savings when you have bills to catch up on. If you have high-interest debt, such as credit cards, pay those off first or learn more about loans that can help you eliminate bad debt with a lower interest rate.
Otherwise, the rule of thumb is to put 10 percent of your income into an emergency fund and long-term savings. Should you encounter an emergency expense or a loss of income, you’ll have something to fall back on.
Cut Back on Senseless Utilities
Utility bills, including telephone, electricity, water, and so forth, can take up a big chunk of your monthly budget. But if you’re not careful about what you’re buying, you could be tossing money away for no reason.
Find out exactly what’s included in your cable bill, for instance. Are you watching all those extra channels you’re paying for? What about your landline phone? If no one ever calls you on that line other than telemarketers, ditch it. Look into other options, such as a budget electric plan to create a set monthly expense and avoid unexpected increases during certain months.
Make More Money
If you find yourself in major financial distress, increasing your income might be the only way out. There are plenty of ways to make some part-time cash. Look for ways to put your talents and interests to financial use. Put all your extra funds into getting your budget on track, then start contributing your earnings to long-term savings.
There are multiple ways to get out of a financial rut and keep your budget in check. A little smart spending and discipline might be all it takes to get you on the right track.