Developing and following a budget can help save money throughout the year, especially when you know the amount of money you have coming in versus how much you spend each month. However, sometimes unexpected events, such as a job loss or move, can require you to make adjustments to your budget. Consider the following tips to help adjust your budget when times are tough.
Determine Essential Payments
Keep track of your essential monthly payments, such as rent or mortgage payments and car payments. Also, keep in mind any potential quarterly payments, such as insurance and factor in those prices. Once you know these expenses, you can alter other items in your budget to ensure you are not spending more money than you have coming in, since essential payments don't vary.
Lower Current Bills
For bills that vary each month, try doing what you can to decrease the amount of each payment. Consider turning down your thermostat a few degrees and putting on your favorite sweater or adding a few blankets to your bed to help decrease your heating bill. To use less electricity, turn on less lights and don't leave the TV on if you're in the other room. Map out driving routes and only make necessary trips to save money on gas. Also, try pausing or cancelling your cable, and consider stopping streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu.
Decrease Spending Where You Can
Are you a frequent online shopper, or maybe a multiple-night-per-week order out/dine-in customer? If so, consider shopping only for necessary items—hold off on purchases, such as electronic gadgets, your daily coffee, new toys for your kids, or new books. Consider getting second-hand clothes or toys and head to the library for a new-to-you book. Stick to eating at home, and only get what you need at the grocery store. Divide your monthly grocery budget so you know your limit for each time you go to the store within that month—this will help in buying items you truly need.
Get Another Job While Looking For One
If you lost your job and are having difficulty finding a new one right away, look for a job outside of your career path for the time being. Whether it's applying for a job at your favorite store, or submitting your resume for a position at a local restaurant, pursuing an opening in a line of work that's outside of your usual industry can be an exciting way to make money while you look for other opportunities.
Reach out to your creditors and explain your situation to see if they are able to offer any assistance. Ask if you qualify for a reduced interest rate or any potential discounts. Also, see if there are any payment deferment options. There may not be an option for you, but it is always good to call just to make sure.
No matter what unexpected budget constraints you may face, North Country Savings Bank can help you prepare for the unexpected, keeping your budget on-track.