When Money is Tight! 7 Questions That Will Keep You Solution Minded!
If you have ever been in the process of rebuilding finances from scratch, I completely understand this journey!
When you are working on securing the right kind of work and income for your needs, you'll run into what I call income and expense tug of wars!
I have developed a list of go-to questions that I ask myself to help me think constructively about my next steps when income and expenses simply don't line up as enough. Instead of worrying about them so much, my goal is to always approach these topics as ideas. This gives me time to reflect and put myself into a solution mind-set.
1. Am I keeping an appropriate track of my budget?
Assuming that you have one, your budget is very important because it tells you where your money is going and where it should be going. You don't have to obsess about it, but plan a time where you visit your budget as often as you feel it benefits you. For me, depending on if there are extra things that need to be taken care of in a month, I may revisit my budget every other week or simply once a month. You may find that missing a budget check-in might cause you more anxiety because you are more prone to spend where you don't need to or think you have less than what you actually have!
This happened to me this past year! I had gone a month without checking in on my banking account, just assuming that I only had a certain amount in there until I realized there was an additional bill that needed my attention. Instead of getting overwhelmed, I realized that a work check had simply not cleared yet. Something that I had totally forgotten I had deposited but because I did not account for it right away, I did not know it had actually cleared and the money was actually there! In cases where there is clearly a shortage, I at least knew or had an idea of the amount I needed to work towards. Having a budget keeps you one step ahead of unnecessary anxiety!
Need more help in this area? Access my Budget Overview Worksheet!
2. Are there creditors I could call and get an extension on some of my bill due dates?
Put your bills in due date order. Anything that is urgent, check to see if any of your creditors have grace periods or offer extensions or small upfront payments to hold things over. If you must take money and pay the urgent bill, go ahead and pay it and then work on funds for the next bill. Go in order of the next important bill that needs to be paid. If there are programs for any kind of budget billing, consider those optional arrangements and how it could alleviate your budget for a while.
Sometimes, simply communicating the issue early enough, will give you the time you need to make adjustments.
I recall a time where I knew that rent would be a little late. I called the rental office and informed the leasing agent that I would add the late fee on and gave an estimate of when I would be in to pay it. When I came in, the agent told me to not to worry about the late fee because they had never had an issue with me paying late before and to take the fee off next months' rent.
3. Do I have capacity to add a day or extra hours of work in a week or for a duration of time with my current work arrangements?
There have been many times where I have worked a extra few hours or added an extra day to my week of working to get through a tough budget month. If you hadn't thought of this as a potential working arrangement, before you begin a project or job, ask if there is room for you to pick up a few extra hours or days should you need to, for times like these!
4. Do I have any items that I could sell?
One summer, I hosted an online garage sale event. I posted items for sale and invited people I knew to pick and purchase their items and I either took it to them or if it was a small item, I mailed it and added on a small mailing fee. I also put a few things on a few other app platforms and added a few hundred dollars to my pocket. There are different kinds of apps and online marketplaces that you can post items for sale. Search and test them out and keep them on hand and ready. Who knows, it could turn into a really good side gig!
5. I have a strong work ethic reputation with my employer or and client(s). Could I ask for a small advance?
Things come up that are not planned or maybe they were planned originally but workflow was a little short therefore making the budget short. I recall a time within the past year that I needed a simple $50 extra to add on to a bill so that I would not compromise my budget that month. Because I had a great working relationship with a client and friend, they immediately advanced me the funds knowing that I would put in the time that week to make up for it! This is not the same as going to a check cash place asking for an advance and paying more for the service and other fees. This is simply an advance on payment for work you would complete anyways. It wasn't a loan, so I did not have to pay it back!
6. Could I offer an additional paid or seasonal service?
If you are running a side business or have the capacity to add an additional service, why not offer a limited time offer for a small discount? You could also consider seasonal offers like offering Spring cleaning assistance to your close friends and associates. It doesn't have to be widely broadcasted, just a simple text or email to folks attached to a good price. Whatever the idea is, it definitely won't work if you don't try it!
7. Is this an instance where I really should consider getting additional help?
Consider where things are for you. If there is a chance that after doing all that you can do, you still need more help, it's ok to consider help from other sources or programs in your area. This is what they are here for! I always like to know where my local food bank is in case of an emergency and how to apply for aid if needed. It doesn't mean you will need it forever. Remember, even people who make good money still have moments where they need some more help from time to time. Use these times to catch your breath and continue working towards your income goals!
When I have done all that I know to do, here are actions I take to help me stay positive in place of the times I might feel more inclined to worry.
Volunteer- Give a few hours serving the local community. Helping others sends out good energy to come back to you, plus you'll feel better about yourself when you are helping others.
Exercise- If you can go to a gym great, but if you don't have a membership, take a walk, listen to some music and stretch your body. Give your body a chance to release some tension.
Faith & Prayer- Visit a church. One thing about church is that there is always some kind of prayer going on. Some churches even have online prayer requests you can send in. Go ahead and activate some faith that everything will work out by attending some services or visiting an online group for some spiritual support!
Hobbies & Creative Projects- Color, write, journal, read, knit, fix a car, organize a closet, create a vision board. Do something with your hands to help keep your mind from running idle in unhealthy thinking patterns.
What are some other ideas you have tried to help you get through a tight money month?