Sometimes you have to quickly create some breathing space in your budget. Maybe you lose a job, take a pay cut, or have an emergency that eats up your available cash. Things like getting another/better job, starting a vegetable garden, or moving can help, but they take time. When you need to find extra money fast, what can you do (besides hit the payday loan places, which is a really bad idea)? Here are twenty-nine ideas that can be implemented quickly.
Have a yard sale or put your goods on Craigslist. Consignment sales or selling to websites or stores that buy used merchandise are also good avenues. Sell your old gold or other jewelry.
If you have any purchases that you haven’t opened or used yet, take them back immediately. The cash or credit on your credit card will help.
Drop or don’t renew anything like Netflix, cable TV, gym memberships you don’t need or use, and any magazine/newspaper subscriptions you have. In the case of magazines, many of them will refund you for any un-mailed issues, so even if you have time remaining on the subscription, contact the publisher or the third-party where you obtained the subscription and ask about a refund.
Sell a car
If you can get by with one car (or none), sell one and pocket the cash. If you don’t want to sell, park the car and remove the plates. You won’t have to pay for insurance that way. Or, you can sell your expensive car and get a small beater to get around town in.
Ask for lower interest rates
Call your credit card company and ask if you can get a lower rate. They might oblige.
If you can afford the closing costs and substantially lower your monthly payment, refinancing may save you more in the coming months.
Get aggressive with your utilities
Turn off everything that’s not in use and turn off everything at night. Take shorter showers. Do less laundry and dishes or at least make sure the machines are full. Line dry clothes. Keep the house warmer or cooler than usual and either put on a sweater or turn on a fan. Utility use is one of those things that is within your control, so take advantage of that and cut as much as you can.
Stop eating out
Not only meals, but stop getting coffees, pastries, and other snacks away from home.
When times are tough, brand loyalty needs to go. Buy the cheapest brand you can get.
Modify your insurance
Call your insurance agent and ask if there are any discounts. If not, shop around. Ask about raising your deductibles. Make sure you’re not paying for double coverage and make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need. Don’t drop your insurance altogether. That’s asking for trouble. Many insurers will send you a check, prorated for any overpayment you’ve already made if you modify your policy and it reduces your premium.
Cancel your cell phone or your landline
If you can get out of your contract or it is ending, switch to a prepaid cell phone and limit your usage. If you can cancel your landline phone, do it.
If you have a maid, landscaper, handyman or any other service provider, drop them.
Stop smoking or drinking
Expensive and bad habits need to go.
Stop shopping recreationally
Make lists and stick to them. Don’t go to the stores if you don’t have to. Beware the $10 Target trip that morphs into $100.
Get rid of pets
It’s harsh and I would only use it as a last resort, but pets are expensive. You can save a bundle if you can find them new homes.
Learn to coupon
You don’t have to resort to extremes, but you can cut your food, cleaning, and hygiene budgets by a decent sum.
Make your own cleaning products
I’m amazed at how much cleaning products cost. You can make your own with vinegar and baking soda for pennies.
Stop charitable giving
I’m all for giving to charities and churches when you can afford it, but if you can’t afford it stop it for a time.
Cancel any planned vacations
If you’ve paid deposits, cancel and get those back. You can rebook later.
Pull kids out of activities
Things like sports, clubs, and other activities are expensive. Stop paying for memberships and lessons until things are better. The kids probably won’t like it, but you have to do what you need to do to get by.
Pull kids out of private school
Tuition is high and your kids will survive in public school until you can get them back into that private school. At the very least, ask the school if there is any aid available.
Stop paying for your adult children
Too many people are paying for weddings or tuitions to the detriment of their own finances. These kids are adults. Let them find their own way to pay for some stuff. If they’re living with you, make them pay rent.
Renegotiate your bills: Call your phone, Internet, TV, cell phone, or trash providers and ask for a discount. Many will give you something to retain you as a customer. Some may have money saving alternatives that you didn’t know about. Ask nicely.
Find new places to shop: Stop shopping at the expensive supermarket and try the lower priced markets or farmer’s markets. Don’t shop high end department stores, shop the big box stores. Try dollar stores. There are plenty of places to get what you need for less.
Eat what you already have: Make meals from what you already have on hand rather than heading to the store. You may have to make some strange combinations, but it’s cheaper than shopping.
Ask for help: If things are really bad, ask for help from your church, family, friends, food banks, or government assistance programs. Don’t abuse the generosity, but such programs are there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get you through.
Collect any money you’re owed: Send in any rebates you have lying around, cash in any points at rewards and survey sites, and call in any debts owed by family, friends, or people you’ve done work for. Check your state’s unclaimed property office to see if you have any outstanding money owed to you.
Cut entertainment: No more movies or store bought books and DVD’s. Borrow from the library or friends, instead. If you have to go out, look for free options.
Put the kids on the bus: In our area, the school system provides bus service, paid for with taxpayer’s money. But many parents drive their kids to and from school because it’s “convenient.” It’s also expensive because it wastes gas. You’re already paying for the bus. You might as well use it.
Some of these things will work for you and others won’t. You may find some of these ideas insensitive. That’s okay. Everyone has different priorities and things that they are willing to do. Take what you can use from this piece and ignore the rest. However, if you need to quickly open up some space in your budget you should at least consider anything and everything, even if it seems drastic. When things get better, you can always add in the things you miss.