Living On A Shoestring Budget

shoestring budget

by Kyla Camille, |

Most of us understand we need to live within our means in order to be financially responsible, but it’s a difficult lesson to put into practice. For the vast majority of Americans, their means is just enough to get by, with as many as 40% of the nation living paycheck to paycheck. If you find yourself among these numbers, it can be a challenge to make ends meet — but not impossible. Creating a budget, even if it’s a tight one, is your first step towards fiscal responsibility. Keeping in mind the following unlikely tips can help you stay on track, too.

Take Advantage of Apps
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, your smartphone can help you save money in a surprising number of ways. Check out the following apps to see how you can shave a few dollars here and there:

  • Gas Buddy — This community-based fuel app will tell where to find the cheapest gas in your area. With real-time prices submitted by nearly 2 million users at over 14,000 stations across North America, it’s a handy way to save time and money when you fill up at the pumps.
  • RetailMeNot — Despite your frugal aspirations, you can’t avoid buying stuff for ever. Eventually you’ll have to shop for clothing, housewares, and other necessary supplies, but at least with RetailMeNot you can save a little money when you do. The app accumulates thousands of deals and coupons from over 50,000 retailers in the States. All you have to do is show the app at the cash and save a few bucks on your purchase.
  • Grocery IQ—Keeping your fridge stocked with fresh veg doesn’t have to be a pipedream. The creators behind Grocery IQ have developed an app that helps you create a shoppinglist that synchs it with the available coupons and deals offered by your local supermarket.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected
It sounds like an oxymoron, but stick with us. This suggestion is less about knowing the future and more about knowing how you can survive regardless of what lies ahead of you. Sometimes we can’t always anticipate when a huge bill, an unavoidable repair, or an emergency trip to the doctor will happen. More often than not, we’re slapped with these new expenses after we’ve already used the last of our paychecks on other necessities. Knowing a reliable direct lender of payday loans is just one of the ways you can be prepared for the unexpected. Once you have a company in mind, you can contact them as soon as you realize you’ve encountered a critical cash shortage, and their convenient and rapid processes can connect you with the money you need in as little as one business day after your approval.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun
A lot of people associate living on a tight budget with living a very austere lifestyle. It’s true your budget should eliminate your habit of making small, trivial purchases. They add up, after all, and the cash spent on your daily coffee or weekly trip to the movies could be better spent or saved. But these items or services play an important role—beyond wasting your money. They act as little pick-me-ups that can keep you sane during your 9 – 5 grind. When you cut them out altogether you run the risk of becoming miserable until you eventually fall off the bandwagon out of boredom and spend even more money.

Instead of removing these habits completely, find a free substitution that can keep you occupied and on budget. Most cities have a website, newspaper, or entertainment guide that lists the upcoming free events in the area. You may be surprised to learn of the many complimentary festivals, concerts, and lectures that are put on each month. Your local library is also an incredible source of events, programs, and workshops that come free of charge. They may not hold the same sugar-rush that your frappuccino does, but at least these events will cut out the temptation to fall into bad habits.

Speak with your librarian to see if there’s anything happening in your community, and don’t forget to search out apps and direct lenders of small dollars loans. These surprisingly simple tasks can help you spend less and save more.

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