If you work outside the home, your family might have noticed a significant, or not so significant decrease in your take home pay. If you want to know all the nitty gritty details as to why, I'll direct you to this article on CNN.
But for sake of simplicity and time, let's just say a tax break expired, which, in turn, led to a paycheck decrease. That can really hurt those on a tight budget.
Don't panic, there are things you can do to stretch your dollar a little bit further.
I know, I know, I hear you – it's already stretched as far as it can go! Nevertheless, I hope you'll at least find one or two ideas in my list that will be of some benefit. (And feel free to share your ideas in the comments!)
1. Cut the excess
I don't believe those who say they have nothing more to cut. There's always something you can consume less of, no matter how big or how small.
Some little changes:
- Skip the morning coffee run.
- Eat more at home and less at fast food joints or restaurants.
- If you live a short distance from stores and work, choose to walk or bike rather than drive.
Some more drastic changes:
- Cut a cell phone plan, or call your phone company to see if you can downgrade your plan for less of a monthly charge.
- Cut the satellite or cable. You can watch most anything on the internet anyway.
- Go down to one car. If you're already a one car family, see if you can carpool with family and friends and split the gas.
2. Sell your stuff
Scout around your house for unused items to put on craiglist, ebay, or Amazon. Anything from furniture to kitchen utensils to books will usually go. Read my #1 tip to selling on Craigslist to get you started.
Even if you only make a few bucks here and there, it truly adds up.
Plus, it's emotionally beneficial to clearing out the clutter. I know I always work better in a neatly organized space rather than be surrounded by things I won't ever use.
3. Start couponing
I'm not an extreme coupon user by any means, but I do know the benefits of scouting out a sale and pairing it with a great coupon. Result? Wicked cheap items – especially in the toiletry department.
However, couponing takes time, so if it's not something you're willing to completely devote yourself to, I'd skip it for alternative ideas. But if you do have the time, a couple hours invested here and there can really pay off.
4. Raid your pantry
I will be first in line to blame for cans of soup sitting in my cupboards from a year ago. Or how about that pasta I never made because I didn't have the right noodles?
Make a pact to eat out of your pantry for the next week or two. This means, you cannot go buy stuff at the store! This also means you have to get pretty creative.
Jessica over at Good Cheap Eats is currently hosting a Pantry Challenge. If that's something that might motivate you to start eating from your stash, I encourage you to give it a try!
5. Stay home
There are times when you have to go run errands, travel to and from work, or take a sick kid to the doctor, but if it's not necessary to go out, don't.
- You'll save on gas.
- You won't be tempted to buy items you don't need.
- You won't run through a drive-through to grab a snack or soda.
And if there's something you really really need at the store, see if you can make do without, or find something creative to replace it. Unless, of course, we're talking about toilet paper.