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Making ends meet make seem impossible if you don't make as much as you spend. Cutting back on your spending feels like a sacrifice, but you have no control (so you think) over the money you make. It often feels like a vicious circle.
So how do you make ends meet while still feeling in control?
We've summarized our favorite ways below.
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Rent a Cheaper House or Apartment
If you rent, find a cheaper lease. Most leases last for one year and you should look for a cheaper place to live well before your lease expires. If the area you're in is too expensive, look at surrounding areas. Sometimes just going a few miles out of your way can make a drastic difference in the rent costs.
Get a Roommate or Live With Family
If you can't or don't want to move, consider sharing your home with a roommate. Splitting the housing costs 50/50 makes it easier to make ends meet. If you don't have a roommate, but have family nearby, consider asking them if you can stay there for a while so you can get back on your feet.
Buy a Cheaper Car
If you don't own your car, and your car payments are too expensive, sell the car. Use the money left after paying off the balance to buy a car in cash. Don't finance it. When you buy a used car, though, make sure it's certified or evaluated by a mechanic to make sure it's in decent condition and won't cost a lot to keep running.
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Shop Around for Cheaper Services
Look at the services you pay for and see how you can save money. Here are a few ideas:
- Shop for cheaper cellphone plans or get rid of unlimited data plans
- Shop for cheaper insurance or see if your insurance agent offers insurance bundles to save money
- Cut the cord on cable and choose a less expensive streaming service
- Cancel subscriptions you have and don't use (or don't need)
Create a Meal Plan Around the Week's Sales
You have to eat, but that doesn't mean you have to overspend on food. Rather than buying whatever is on your mind, make a list. Grab the store's sales ad and plan your meals around the meat and produce that's on sale. If your staples are on sale, stock up on them then you don't have to pay the regular price when you run out.
Eat at Home or Bring a Lunch to Work
As more restaurants open up for in-person dining, you may eat out more or run through a drive-thru for convenience. Try limiting these occurrences, eating at home as much as possible. Homemade meals are healthier and save you money on food. If you aren't a PB&J type person, make extra dinner and bring leftovers for lunch.
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Work Out at Home
Many big-name gyms today offer online streaming classes both live and recorded. You can even hop on YouTube and get free workouts from celebrity trainers. Even if you pay a small fee to stream workouts at home, you'll save money on what is usually a much more expensive gym membership.
Maintain Your Car
This doesn't sound like a way to save money, but it is, in the long run. If you let your car go without maintenance, it will cost you more to repair. For example, if you rarely change the oil, you could ruin the car's engine. An engine repair or replacement costs much more than an oil change. Keep up with the maintenance and let mechanics catch any problems early on to avoid expensive repair bills.
Prioritize Your Health
Just like you need to take care of your car, your health matters too. If you don't eat right and exercise often, you could end up with expensive health issues. Even if you have health insurance through work, most policies have deductibles and co-pays - they don't cover 100% of the cost.
If you take care of yourself and go to the doctor for regular checkups, you can minimize major issues or see problems early on so they don't get out of hand, costing you more money or making it impossible to work and make money.
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Sell What You Don't Need
Walk around your house and figure out what you don't need anymore and sell it. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay are all great places to sell items you no longer want. This includes clothes, kids' toys, household items, and electronics. Don't assume no one will want it since you don't. You may make a little extra money and declutter your home.
Start a Side Hustle
If you have some free time, consider taking up a side hustle. It could be anything from driving for Uber to selling products online. Anything you enjoy doing and can do in your free time can help increase your income, and lower how much you have to cut back in other areas.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
To make ends meet, you need to know what you bring in and what goes out. Pull your bank statements from the last few months and get a good idea of what you spend. Next, look at your income. How do the two compare?
If you spend much more than you make, go back to step one and find areas you can cut back. Once you get your expenses under control, create a budget that you can stick to. Monitor your spending, and see how you do. If you notice a category you constantly overspend in, consider adjusting your budget by cutting down in categories you can cut back so you can add more to the category you overspend.
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Making Ends Meet Is Possible No Matter How Much Money You Make
Making ends meet often feels impossible, especially if you feel stuck at your current income level. But there are ways if you think outside the box. Start by looking at your expenses and see what you can cut out altogether. Next, focus on areas you can cut back or ways you can make money on the side.
No matter how you make ends meet, always use a budget. It's the only way to tell if your strategies are working or if you need to go back to the drawing board and try again.