When you’re working forty (or more) hours per week, yet don’t have any expendable income left after you pay the bills to actually enjoy your time away from work, something is off. While you could complain about your low wages (fair, if it’s true) or start applying for higher-paying jobs, neither of those things will put cash back into your budget right now. If you’re putting in the work, but have no money left to play, putting some cash back into your budget is probably a priority.
When you’re looking for some extra cash, without the hassle or stress of finding new or additional employment, here are a few ways to eke a little extra cash out of a super-tight budget.
Shop the sales.
It probably sounds like advice from your grandma, but your coupon-clipping Meemaw was onto something. The thing about paying attention to sales is that it allows you to save in an area where saving isn’t easy – at the grocery store. Food is one of those things that simply isn’t cheap, and it’s even more difficult to cut down on the expense of eating if you try to eat right or have special dietary needs. Organic produce prices? Yeah, good luck with that fruit salad.
Keeping an eye on grocery store sales ads, and actually shopping those sales (choosing your produce, meat, and meals for the week based on what’s cheapest) is one of the few ways you can save big on food expenses. It takes a little more time and effort than just going to the store when you’re low on milk, but if it can put a hundred bucks back in your budget, that’s time well-spent.
Turn your hobbies into income.
This is one of those things that sounds more like fantasy than reality, and it’s not exactly actionable advice if you spend your nights watching TV or playing on the Internet. However, if you engage in any type of creative hobby, you have a likely source of extra income, even if that income is limited. Sites like Etsy and Printful provide outlets for artists, photographers, and everyday doodlers to make some extra cash. Amazon and Smashwords allow writers to sell their books or short stories, and Patreon allows you to collect cash for creating basically anything you can think of creating.
These days, even non-creative hobbies have potential for earnings. If you spend all your free time playing video games, and you aren’t playing on Twitch, why not? Get enough of a following, you may be able to make it a full-time job. Of course, you’ll have to be somewhat interesting to build a fanbase, so maybe some creativity is required.
Use your car.
If you have a car in pretty good condition, there are numerous ways you can make a buck off of it. With peer-to-peer sharing, you can rent your car by the hour, transport people or deliver food, or get your vehicle wrapped in an advertisement, if you have the make and model a company is seeking.
Using your car for additional income is a great way to counteract the expense of owning one. Or, if you live in a place that makes it feasible, you can save a buck by getting ride of your car completely, which will save you both on insurance and repairs.
Revisit your monthly expenses.
Most of us think of our monthly expenses as fixed. We have to pay our rent or mortgage, we have to pay for our food and healthcare, and we have to pay our bills. It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of wiggle room, but if you haven’t looked for wiggle room, how do you know you don’t have any?
Instead of looking at your monthly expenses as fixed, start looking for places to cut back. If you have a vehicle that is paid off, for instance, do you really need full-coverage insurance? While it depends on your situation, of course, most of the time it comes down to a simple calculation of the cost to replace the vehicle versus your insurance payments. If you have a $1000 car, for instance, but full-coverage is upping your car insurance payments by $100 per month, you can see how it might not be a great investment.
Put your money toward your interests.
Credit cards get a bad rap, because most people use them badly. Instead of using them for the rewards they provide, many of us use them to cover money we don’t have, or to buy things we otherwise can’t afford.
When credit cards are used sensibly, they can seriously benefit your budget. Reward points can earn you free travel, gift certificates to stores, and savings on gas and other necessities. Think about what you spend a lot of cash on, and look for credit cards that provide rewards in that area. Just make sure you have the funds to pay it off at the end of each month, because, when it comes to increasing cash, interest is no one’s friend.