It can often feel like we never have enough money to be able to afford to pay for everything that we need. We might be struggling to pay for everything, having to borrow money or digging into our savings account all of the time. You may be worried that you cannot continue like this for much longer and you will probably be right. It is wise, if you are in this situation, to try to break the cycle and make sure that you are able to afford everything that you need. There are many things that you can try and changes you can make, but it can be worth just asking yourself a series of questions to get you started.
- Do I really need it? – whenever we are about to buy something it is wise to ask ourselves whether we really need that item. It is easy to think that we do need everything that we buy but it is actually very likely that we do not need everything, even though we may really want it. Our needs are very different to our wants and if we just cover our basic needs, then most of us would have enough money to manage. However, this is not an ideal situation for most people but if you start by covering your needs first and then use the money you have left to buy some of the things that you want, you will still be able to have some treats but you will also make sure that you are balancing your budget better. You may need to spend some time actually thinking about what is a need and what is a want. For example, you need to pay rent or mortgage, loan repayments, insurance, tax, transport, basic clothing, basic food, contracts and things like this. However, entertainment, alcohol, holidays, gifts, homewares and things like this could usually be classed as luxuries and are not necessary and this is the area where you are likely to be able to cut down.
- Can I get it cheaper? – it is also worth making sure that you are not paying more than necessary for the things that you are buying. Compare prices and think about whether you would rather buy alternative brands or shop in different places so that you can save money. Comparing prices is easy online these days as there are comparison websites for everything from utilities and insurance to supermarkets. Although they will not include all retailers or providers, they will at least give you an idea of whether you are paying more the necessary. It is important to make sure that you are getting good value for money; you do not want to be buying items that are unnecessarily expensive but also you do not want items that will not last long and you have to replace because the quality is not very good. So, it could be a matter of looking at what is available, comparing prices and reading reviews to decide whether it is better to switch to cheaper things or not.
- Can I wait before buying it? – another thing to consider is whether to delay buying something. There are two main advantages to doing this. Firstly, you will be able to spend some time thinking about the purchase and deciding whether you really need it. Sometimes we buy something and then regret our decision, perhaps because we wish we had the money to spend on something else or because what we bought was not as good as we had imagined. Secondly you will be able take time to save up a bit of money or pay off some of your loans first. By not buying everything as soon as we see it, we give our finances a bit of breathing space. By delaying we may also find that the item will be reduced in a sale and we can get it cheaper once we decide that we really do want it.
- Can I earn more? – it can also be worth seeing if there are ways that we can earn more. This can help in all sorts of ways. You might be able to sell things, do some temporary work or some overtime. This will bring in lump sums of money which could help you in the short term. However, you might be wiser to focus on more long-term solutions such as finding a better paid job or a second job or something like that. If you are struggling to make ends meet each month, then a lump sum of money will be useful only for a while, whereas if you want to repay a loan, then it could be handier. Consider what you are trying to achieve and try to find an appropriate solution for your needs.