Being broke is an opportunity to practice self-discipline. We’re not talking poverty-stricken here. That’s another situation entirely. In this context, the term “broke” is where you’re able to meet your financial obligations but have nothing left over. That’s typically the scenario where people claim they have “no money.”
The first piece of advice would be to look at any debt payments you’re making. Try using a debt snowball calculator to figure out how you can start paying that debt down faster. Of course, that will probably require making some spending cuts in other areas. The proverbial “tightening of the belt” isn’t easy. But here are some suggestions to help you.
Tip #1: Revisit your budget
Something isn’t working. You may not have enough income to cover your expenses, or you might need to modify at least some of your spending.
That’s what a budget is for. Make a list of all your expenses and break them down into essential and non-essential categories.
Then, subtract the essentials from your income. What’s left is your discretionary money.
Tip #2: Cut your non-essential expenses
Cable TV is not an essential expense. Internet might be, depending on what you do for a living. Consider cutting the home cable, and if you’re not working from home, you might be able to dial back on your internet plan.
You could also see if work would offer a stipend to cover internet charges while you’re in the home office—or sitting at your kitchen counter, either way. Take that mindset and apply it to other bills.
Some of what you’re paying for are “wants,” not “needs.” Cut back on the wants and you’ll have more money.
Tip #3: Trim down your grocery list
Cookies and potato chips are nice to have for late-night snacks, but they can be expensive and have no real nutritional value. Cut out the junk food and start buying generic instead of brand-name products.
Every penny you save gets you closer to financial stability. Saving $25 to $50 a week by modifying your grocery bill could give you the margin you need to not be broke.
Also, make sure there is enough food in the house. Ideally, aim to always have enough for four weeks into the future. That saves you from stressing continually about where your next meal will come from when you’re in a tight spot.
Tip #4: Buy in bulk whenever possible
Warehouse clubs like BJ’s and Sam’s Club sell items in bulk for a reduced price. You’ll need to pay a membership fee to join, but the savings over time typically can cover that.
You may also be able to find bulk deals online, like Amazon’s subscription service. Research your options in this area and you’ll find there are multiple venues where you can save by buying in bulk, assuming you have the space to store it.
Tip #5: Look for a second job or a new job
The crux of the matter may be that you’re not making enough money. Taking on a second job part-time or another side hustle could be the solution.
You should also evaluate your current job. No matter how much you love it, they’re probably not paying you enough.
Is there a chance you can make more money elsewhere? Job changes are scary, but a move might be necessary. And if not a new job, see if you can negotiate for better pay. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Tip #6: Maintain a positive attitude
They say money can’t buy you happiness. A lack of money shouldn’t deprive you of life’s joys. Stress won’t help the situation, so try your best to keep a positive attitude.
Learn to have fun without spending anything. Take up a free sport like jogging or playing frisbee in the park. If you stay positive and follow these tips, you can improve your situation.
About today’s writer
Kevin Flynn is a former fintech coach and financial services professional. When not on the golf course, he can be found traveling with his wife or spending time with their nine wonderful grandchildren and two cats.