Currently, only 28 percent of Americans are in considered to be in a financially healthy position.
Meanwhile, 17 percent of Americans are considered to financially vulnerable and 55 percent are just “financially coping.”
If you’re having a hard time keeping up with your bills and spending less than you earn, it’s easy to feel as though you’ll be that way for the rest of your life.
You might be broke and poor right now. That doesn’t mean you’ll be that way forever, though.
Read on for some money management tips that will help you to live within your means and get back on your feet.
1. Start Tracking Your Spending
The first thing you need to do to get a hold of your finances is to track your spending.
You could use a pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or an app. Whatever method you use, you need to know exactly how much money you’re bringing in each month and how much money you’re spending.
This might be scary to do, especially if you know that you’re spending more than you’re earning. The sooner you know the details of your financial situation, though, the sooner you can start trying to turn things around.
Dedicate an afternoon to scouring your bank statements and figuring out how much you spend each month and where your money is going.
2. Change the Due Dates of Your Bills
Many people don’t realize that they can do this. It can a helpful option, though, if you find that you often don’t have enough money to cover all your bills at one time.
For example, let’s say you get paid every two weeks. If you have to pay both your rent and your car payment at the beginning of the month, that’s a huge chunk of your paycheck — even the whole thing in some cases — that you have to give up.
When this happens, you end up relying on credit cards to cover the rest of your expenses like groceries and gas. This just digs you into a deeper debt hole and makes it harder for you to come out on top.
To avoid this, try changing the date your car payment is due. That way, you can pay your rent at the beginning of the month and your car payment in the middle and still have money left over to cover other expenses.
3. Trim the Fat
When you were going through your bank statements and figuring out how much you earn and spend each month, you might have noticed some patterns.
Maybe you saw a lot of Target runs or a lot of trips to your local Starbucks, for example.
Be honest with yourself and ask if there are things you’re paying for each month that you don’t actually need. Once you’ve identified those unnecessary expenses, aim to eliminate them, or at least cut back on them.
A $3 coffee might not seem like a big deal. If you’re buying $3 coffees four or five times per week, though, that soon adds up to $48-$60 worth of coffee each month.
Is there anywhere else that money could be going? Little changes like this can make a big difference when you’re trying to stop being broke.
4. Increase Your Income
You don’t have to get another full-time job. You should look for a way to earn some extra money on the side, though.
Consider picking up a side hustle like driving for Uber or Lyft or dogsitting for Rover. The great thing about these gigs is that you can do them on your own time and when it best suits your schedule.
Even if you only earn one or two hundred extra dollars per month, you’ll still be better off than if you were doing nothing at all.
5. Automate Your Savings
It might seem impossible to save money when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Remember, though, that there’s no such thing as a deposit that’s too small. Even if you only are able to put aside five dollars a month, that’s still better than nothing at all.
Consider using an app like Acorns, too. The Acorns app takes a small, pre-set amount of money out of your bank account every week. It then invests that money into ETFs, stocks, or mutual funds to help you start building a nest egg for the future.
6. Use Caution When Taking Out Loans
If you’re in a situation where you need to take out a loan to make ends meet, be cautious about the type of loan for which you apply.
Do plenty of research and learn more about the different interest rates and terms each lender offers before you make a decision. This will help you ensure you get the best loan possible and can pay it off sooner.
Don’t borrow more than you need, either — this will leave you with more debt to deal with later.
7. Make Debt a Top Priority
If you’re in debt, you should make repaying your debts your top priority. Any extra cash that comes your way ought to go right to your loan payments or credit card balance.
Dedicate the extra money you earn from your side hustle to paying off these debts or set aside the money that you would have spent on coffee or other unnecessary expenses and use that to help lower your balance.
You might have to put yourself on a tight leash for a while in order to get your debt under control. The sooner you do this, though, the sooner you’ll have more money at your disposal.
Remember, the fun purchases can wait until your debts are paid off. You’ll also have a lot more fun with them when you’re not weighed down by bills.
Broke and Poor No Longer
Being broke and poor isn’t fun. There’s no denying it. You can get out of this trap, though, and start to enjoy financial freedom.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to being better with money and attaining good financial health.
Do you want to learn more about money management advice? If so, we’ve got lots of helpful articles on our site.
We’ve even got articles that will help you continue eating out and enjoying the world while sticking to a strict budget. Check them out today!