More and more Canadians report that they are living paycheck to paycheck and most of them have stated that they are one paycheck away from losing everything. With so many people talking about how thin their finances are, is there anything that can be done to save money while living on a tight budget?
This one word scared a lot of people. I know there was a time when I said, “how can I budget when I know that I don’t have enough money to cover the bills?” It can be very intimidating but no matter the circumstances, you need to budget. This will help you understand where your money is going. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to sit down and enter your spending every day by hand or enter it on a spreadsheet. When you are having to write it down then you have to take ownership of your spending. There are some great budgeting apps (when you are ready) such as Mint. With every budget, there need to be savings and spending built in.
Pay Yourself First
For many people this seems like a strange concept, but it will help. When you complete your budget one of the items should be spending. Each budget will be different, it could be a percentage or a set amount. Ultimately most of us will spend money on something, a coffee with a friend or some form of pleasure. If this is not budgeted, then it will have to come from somewhere unexpectedly. If you know how much you can spend, you can buy your coffee and not mess up the budget or have guilt. Spending on yourself does not have to be lavish. The small things count and help you feel like you are not just working to pay bills, but to enjoy life too.
I used to joke that I didn’t have paydays, I had pay transfer days! My money went in and then it went out. This was set up so there was no second guessing. There was the ability to move some around but when the money was not seen before it went to bills, I had no urge to spend or splurge it. There could be additional savings offered by companies when you sign up for automatic payments.
Tips for Shopping
One of the first thing to do is not compulsively window shop. If you are going to a store or a mall, go with a purpose. Stores and malls use target marketing to make people desire products and without a purpose, you are more likely to go into a store and make a purchase. Remember even if it is one sale for 25 per cent off, you are still paying 75 more than you budgeted if you pick up an impulse item.
Use this same tactic when going grocery shopping – go with a list. If it is not on the list, then it is not in the cart.
When heading to the store, make sure you eat before you go. It has been shown that if you go shopping hungry, you make poor choices.
Financial struggles are real and they can cause big problems in relationships, cause depression and bring about isolation. There are a lot of emotions when you are struggling with financial worries. There is help out there; put your pride aside and seek help. Bromwhich and Smith is a great resource for debt relief and financial support. Erin Skye Kelly has a program called Get the Hell Out of Debt. This is a fantastic program for everyone who truly wants to get help (if you go to the website there are costs but reach out to discuss as there is help available). If things are bad and you need immediate help contact Alberta Income Support.
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