March 18th, 2016
When you’re living on a tight budget or on a fixed income, you may find yourself with more month than money. Today we’ll look at three simple things you can do to live comfortably the whole month long.
We cringe when we hear the word “budget” because we think we have to cut back on the stuff we like. But a budget can help us ensure we have a little extra for our hobbies or those small joys. If you want to go to the movies once a week, you need to know what you’re spending and where you can make some adjustments. A common example is getting a coffee from your favorite coffee house. Maybe you cut that down to twice a week in order to have money for movies plus popcorn. When you see where you’re spending, you can make smarter choices on your priorities.
Always pay cash for everyday expenses. You’ll spend up to 30% less curbing your impulse purchases and stick to your budget better. This also can mean using your ATM Debit card in place of a credit card like when you’re getting gas and it’s easier to pay at the pump. Just remember to keep track of what you’re spending and your balance.
A common mistake is to forget a regularly scheduled payment like a utility and get overdrawn. Fees are pretty steep these days for when that happens. Do contact your bank. They will often forgive and reverse a fee if you’ve been a good customer. But they won’t forgive all of them if it happens frequently.
Search for any money owed to you that you haven’t claimed. There are many websites for finding money owed from the government and banks and insurance, etc. If you overpaid somewhere and deserved a refund, but it couldn’t get to you, it will be listed. You will need to fill in forms and provide some form of identification and then a check will get sent to you. This often happens if you moved and they didn’t properly update your new address in the database.
Save on your insurance by shopping around for quotes and making adjustments to your deductible. Just be cautioned, if you increase your deductible, you should probably set aside a little money every month until you have saved the amount of the deductible just in case. Also, if you’ve been with an insurance company for a length of time, you may want to ask for better good customer discounts. And if you move to a new insurance and you have an accident, be aware that they will be more likely to raise your insurance than a company that has a long history with you.
Look for work you can do part time. There are real part or full time jobs you can do from home. You can tap into your old skills or expand on your hobbies. There are marketplaces out there like fiverr.com where you can do a small project and receive a minimum of $5. Examples could be doing a voice over, writing an article, etc. You can look for opportunities to teach and to tutor if you know a subject well. Some resources are Real Ways to Earn Money Online and Online Business Ideas. Be aware that if you are on Medicaid and other benefit programs, you could lose those benefits if you earn even just $1 over the limit. Call the program providing your benefits and find out what the limits are, and then stay on top of your earnings.
If you’re low income and paying taxes, you should consult an accountant. There’s a good chance you’re paying too much on things like any earnings off of investments. If you’re over sixty, you can get free tax help through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
Many community centers provide resources such as lunches and counseling. Contact your local community center to find out what is available to you.
Also contact your local utilities. Many have special programs to assist people on fixed incomes.