Updated 9 December 2018
Most people have times in their lives when money is extremely tight. You have to live paycheck to paycheck until things improve, or perhaps you just have a month or two when things are tough. It can cause you a lot of stress and worry, especially if you find that during some months, you’re at risk of running out of money. Even if you plan your finances meticulously and they’re usually enough for you to live comfortably, you can have months when you’re not sure if your money will go far enough. Although it can cause you to panic, it’s best to stay calm and try to form a plan as soon as you can. The sooner you come up with a solution, the easier it will be to avoid further problems which is why I’ve compiled these 9 quick ways to help yourself if you are short on money this month.
Use Your Emergency Fund
The first thing you can do if you need a bit more cash is dip into your emergency fund. You do have an emergency fund, right? If you’ve been smart and had the ability to build one, it should be easy to take the money you need from your savings to help you survive for the rest of the month. Use it to pay off a bill or buy your food for the last week of the month. Unfortunately, it can be hard for some people to build an emergency fund. Saving is hard if you live paycheck to paycheck. But if you can save even a small amount, it could be useful when you need it most.
Take a Close Look at Your Budget
Before you panic too much, take a close look at your usual budget and how much you need to spend for the rest of the month. Are there any regular payments you can cancel for this month? What can you cut back on so that your expenses are more affordable? For example, perhaps you usually give yourself a certain amount to spend on food. If you’ve got another expense to take care of, cutting back on your grocery spend for the month can help to make things more manageable. Eating slightly less exciting food for a few weeks isn’t going to kill you, although it might get you down a little. You can save in a variety of ways, from shopping at a different store to cooking your meals in bulk.
When you have a one-off payment you need to take care of, finding something that you can sell for extra cash is a good idea. It’s not going to work as a long-term solution unless you can set up a retail business, but it will help you out when you’re in a bind. There could be lots of things in your home that you can sell. Perhaps you have clothes you no longer wear, old books and DVDs, gadgets and electronics, or anything else you don’t use enough. You can start selling on Amazon, Facebook or other useful sites like Craigslist. Or you could sell directly to friends, or hold a garage or yard sale.
If you’ve recently made a purchase and haven’t used your new item yet, you could consider returning it and get your money back. Before you take your item back, you need to check consumer laws and store policy on returning items. Most of the time, you’ll need your receipt to be able to get your money back. You might also have to leave the item in re-sellable condition. For example, you might need to return items of clothing with the tags still on them or other items in the original box. Of course, if you find that something you bought is damaged when you get it home and open it, you can also return it. However, be aware that some stores might only offer you store credit, and not cash.
Borrow Money from Friends or Family
Some people are wary of borrowing money from people they know and love, but others are comfortable with it. It can all depend on the dynamics of your relationship and your attitude towards money. Borrowing from family can sometimes be easier than doing the same with friends. You might both have more of a relaxed attitude about paying the money back, which can mean there’s less tension. If you borrow from friends, it can lead to resentment more easily if the money isn’t paid back promptly. Borrowing from a friend or family member can be helpful, but it’s not for everyone.
If some of your money needs go to bills or debt payments this month, you might be unsure if you can afford them. Or perhaps you can, but it will leave you without food or mean you can’t afford to get to work. In these circumstances, don’t simply ignore your bills. It could only make the problem worse. Instead, get in touch with your creditors or service companies and talk to them. Many will be perfectly reasonable and help you work out ways you can make your payments more easily. They want you to pay what you owe, and would rather it wasn’t dragged out for too long.
Take Out a Loan
There are some circumstances when a loan might be a good choice. When you’re running low on cash, fast cash loans can ease the burden. However, there are some important things to think about before you take out a loan. If taking out a loan is only going to get you into further financial trouble, it’s not a good idea. For a loan to help you out when you’re in a sticky financial situation, you need to be able to pay it off as soon as possible. You definitely don’t want it to cause more problems. So if you’re considering a payday loan, you want to be able to pay it off on your next payday, or the one after that. You don’t want to face issues with late fees or anything else that could mean you’re in more debt than before.
Avoid Withdrawing Money from Savings and Investment Plans
When cash is tight, you might start thinking of your savings and investment accounts. For example, it’s possible to dip into your 401(K) to get the money you need. However, doing this can often mean that you have to face large penalties. Before you take any money from any of these accounts, find out what the consequences might be. You might also have a life insurance plan or something else that will allow you to withdraw funds. These could be possibilities, but it’s important to understand how it will affect your policy and your finances overall.
Come Up with a Long-term Solution
Do you find that you regularly run out of money before the end of the month? If you struggle to cover your expenses every month, you need to find a long-term solution. While it’s not an easy thing to do, making a permanent change will help you make your finances much healthier. Rethinking your budget is one option, but it’s not always enough. Sometimes, you need to find a way to increase your income. Looking for a new job, aiming for a promotion or finding a second stream of income could all help to make your finances more manageable. All of these things can take a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you can worry less about money.
It’s hard when your money won’t stretch as far as you need it to. If you’re short on cash, look for the solutions that won’t get you into more trouble first.