If you’re having trouble with your finances, you’re not alone. Numerous studies have found that the average American has less than one month of living costs saved. For most people, if they lost their job tomorrow, their first solution would be an online loan.
If you’re feeling the stress from a difficult financial situation, here are some steps you can take to get your finances in order:
Switch to using cash
When was the last time you handed over cash for a purchase? Credit and debit cards are handy, but it can be difficult to keep track of what you’re spending. When you’re using cash, you can easily see whether you can afford to pay for the things you want or not.
Put all of your cards away for at least a couple of weeks, and give yourself a budget. Take this amount out of the ATM, and only use cash when you’re shopping. You’ll quickly see where most of your money is going- helping you budget.
Track your spending
In an app or notebook, make a note of every cent you spend for those two weeks. Some apps can do this for you automatically if they’re connected to your credit or debit card. Once you’ve done this, you can see where you can afford to cut down on your spending. It could be that after-work happy hours are costing you more than you can afford, or you could be saving a lot of money if you started cooking at home.
Now, find one large expense that you can cut out completely. The best way to do this is to replace it with something else (unless you’re giving up smoking, and in that case, good job). You may find that your daily Starbucks is eating up a large chunk of your budget. Instead, consider purchasing a nice travel cup and some coffee you like and making your coffee at home. If you’re never home and you usually watch Netflix, you may be able to cut your cable bill or remove it completely. Get in touch with your utility providers and compare costs as well- you can often save hundreds of dollars a year by switching.
Create a plan
If you’re in big debt, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. The best thing you can do is sit down and make a plan to tackle that debt. Otherwise, ignoring it will only make the problem worse- and can ruin your credit rating.
See if you can consolidate your credit cards onto one with an interest-free period, or look for a low-interest loan to consolidate all your debt. Then, set up automatic payments so the money disappears as soon as you’re paid.