Making your paycheck last throughout the month is not easy, and there is no quick solution to the problem unless you are lucky enough to win the lottery or get a substantial inheritance. If your normal monthly bills and living expenses are overwhelming or making it impossible for you to save or pay down debt, you need a plan.
Have you ever heard the saying, “mind your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves?” This mindset offers a brilliant approach to money management that you may not have ever considered. When all else fails, consider this: You might be able to nickel and dime your way to getting the extra money you need each month with these simple techniques.
If you like sharing your opinion and have a few minutes to spare here and there, consider signing up for a paid survey site. These sites let you register for free and will partner you with research groups who want to hear what you have to say. The best part about taking surveys is that you will earn cash for completing them.
One great option is Branded Surveys. The site pays anywhere from $0.20 to $3.00 per survey, depending on the complexity of the study. While you will not get rich by taking surveys, you can bank some extra money to pay off a bill or two just by offering your opinion. You can even earn gift cards to help pay some of the household expenses.
Reduce Your Utility Usage
While it may not be possible to get rid of certain services or utilities that you pay for, look for ways to reduce your usage or lower your bill. For example, If you subscribe to cable TV, see if you can subscribe to a cheaper package without all of the premium channels, or opt to keep just your internet and use streaming services instead.
You can also save on energy costs by turning off lights when you leave a room and by turning down your thermostat. Throw on an extra sweater instead of running the heater, or use a fan instead of your AC. If you pay for water or sewer, install low-flow showerheads and instruct family members not to leave the faucets running. Tuck your savings away until you have enough saved up to pay down a bill.
Save Your Pennies and Other Change
Change collection jars are a great way to save up for bill reduction. Oftentimes, people throw their change into a junk drawer, into the bottom of their purse, or a basket and forget about it until they want to cash it in for something fun.
While you are going through any financial challenges, this change should be saved so that you can cash it in for a bill payment. Label your coin collection jar in such a way that it reminds you not to spend the money at a vending machine or on something trivial.
Use Coupon and Rebate Apps
If using coupons to save some change here and there is not your thing, install coupon and rebate apps on your smartphone so that you can reap the financial rewards for things you are going to purchase anyway. Apps like Checkout51, iBotta, and Ebates allow you to upload receipts from purchases and take advantage of rebates on featured items. An item you buy can be worth $0.25 up to $3.00, which translates to some serious savings over the long haul.
Each app has its own redemption procedures, but all will let you accrue the money in your account. Leave it there until you have enough to make a dent. The key is to stay disciplined and use the money you earn in rewards to pay bills.
Use Your Own Grocery Bags
Many cities around the country are adopting ordinances to encourage better environmental practices, which means you will be charged a small fee if a grocery store provides a paper or plastic bag to you. Alternatively, you can often receive a small percentage off your order if you bring your own reusable bags to the store.
While it may not seem like much money, if you remember to bring your own bags to the store 100 times and the rebate is $0.05 per bag, you can save up an additional $5.00 per year to pay down debt. Remember, every little bit counts when you’re on a tight budget.
Be More Self-Sufficient
Homesteading and self-sufficiency are becoming more popular as people try to be less dependent on stores, energy companies, and modern conveniences in general. You do not have to completely remove yourself from “the grid” to save money here and there, but see what you can do around your home to stop spending so much money on daily needs.
You can grow a vegetable garden, make your own blankets, raise chickens for eggs and meat, re-purpose food leftovers, and even create your own energy. Depending on how far you take your new lifestyle, you could save thousands of dollars per year.
Sell Your Creativity
Just about everyone has something they are good at, and you can sell your creative skills and earn a few dollars in the process. Whether you like to knit scarves, work wood, or paint landscapes, there is always someone willing to pay for good craftsmanship.
Open up a store on Etsy, advertise your skills on Fiverr, or list your work on OfferUp. Even if you are not interested in going into business for yourself, you can earn some money and have fun doing it.
Neighborhood Swap Meets
There is one thing that American consumers normally have, and that is too much stuff. Swap meets are a great way to socialize with friends and neighbors and provide you with the opportunity to get rid of things that are no longer useful to you.
If you’re in the market for some pricey items, a swap meet can help you get things you really want without spending a penny. Whether it’s new clothes, dishes, books, toys, or other household items, you can often find just what you need.
Go Metal Detecting
Not only will you get some exercise and fresh air, but metal detecting sometimes leads to finding coins, jewelry, and other metal pieces that can be sold or recycled for extra money. For this tip, you’ll need a metal detector, so if you do not have one already, ask around and see if you can borrow one.
Take your metal detector to public parks and anywhere else in your community that draws in a crowd during the warm summer months. Be sure to check in with the city to ensure you are not breaking any ordinances by metal detecting in certain areas. Also, be on the lookout for change on the ground when getting gas or stopping by the store, as you can add this money to your coin collection jar savings.