If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you know that there’s a strong possibility your savings could run out if you’re faced with some type of emergency. If you find yourself with no more money in your savings account, follow steps such as starting a spending freeze, picking up a side job and selling what you can to build savings back up.
There are going to be some things you can’t avoid paying for: food, gas, child care, housing, regular bills such as insurance, etc. But don’t panic, there are many strategies to implement if you find yourself in a position where you need money, including shopping around for food coupons and finding the cheapest car insurance on the market.
- Take on an online job. There are so many opportunities for at-home work it is really a matter of wading through the “scams” and finding the gems. Subscribe to as many remote work lists that you can and make it another full time job to find the one that works for you. You might consider being a transcriptionist, online tutor, freelance writer, virtual assistant, etc. The more technology infiltrates our lives, the greater possibility for a variety of online positions.
- Put yourself on a spending freeze. If there’s no money in your account, you might be tempted to use your credit cards. While that’s certainly okay for items that are necessary, consider executing a spending freeze for a week on up to a month. Cut out even small purchases you make at the grocery or convenience store like gourmet coffee and donuts. Take the Amazon app off your phone, along with the other department store apps that make it too easy to purchase items you don’t really need.
- Use up your pantry. Most Americans have some sort of stockpile of pantry and freezer goods. Having a food cushion makes you feel secure in the event something global happens (like a pandemic) or something more personal like losing a job. Now is the time to dig to the bottom of that chest freezer in the basement and pull out the frozen bratwurst. Pair it with the box of mac and cheese in the pantry and you’ve got yourself one already-paid-for dinner.
- Review your car insurance. With so many insurance companies out there, it’s a sure bet that you will be able to find one that offers you a better rate. Most people don’t keep a close eye on what they’re paying and exactly what it covers. Keep in mind that if your situation has changed (maybe you’re working remote now and rarely go into the office) your insurance could change as well. Switching insurance companies is the number one way to save money and get a lower rate. Finding the cheapest car insurance can ease the financial stress you’re feeling now.
- Utilize the selling platforms. If the idea of having a yard sale makes you groan with pain, consider instead putting your items up for sale on one of the many platforms available today. The best ones include eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, Bonanza, Poshmark, and Rakuten. Downsizing might be difficult at first but once you’ve cleared out your garage, basement and closets you’ll breathe an extended sigh of relief.
- Cut cable. You might think that life without cable would be bland and dull, especially if you’ve been relying on cable for years (or decades) to provide you with the entertainment you want. The good news is, with so many streaming channels available there is plenty of free entertainment out there and all you need to do is install a FireStick, Roku or Apple TV device to get it. Spending $5 a month for the Discovery + channel is far more reasonable then spending $100 a month for cable and a lot of channels you don’t even watch. Cutting cable allows you to take more control of your finances and your viewing entertainment preferences.
- Learn how to fix stuff. Uh oh, your washing machine is no longer agitating. What do you do? You could call your local handyman or you could research the issue, watch other people repair it, and then do it yourself. The more successful you are at this, the more confident you will become. For the most part, let’s leave the plumbing and electricity to the pros.
- Go dark for a week. If the weather allows it, unplug everything and go Little House on the Prairie style. Not only will this save you money on electricity it will give you and your family an opportunity to bond through board games, cards, books, Mad Libs, and however else you decide to get through the week. If you’re worried about lighting at night, use candles (or even better, battery operated candles if you have them), LED lanterns or sit around a fire pit out back until it’s time to go to bed.
The best strategy of all, of course, is to make sure you don’t run out of savings in the first place. Taking odd jobs, whether they are remote or IRL like food delivery, cutting electricity usage and eating in are all ways to give yourself a healthy financial cushion.