And we may have to borrow money to pay the bills. For others, even if we are living within our means, finding the capacity to start saving for a healthier financial future can be a challenge. If this sounds familiar, consider the following creative ideas to free up some funds:
Identify ways to reduce your expenses or costs. You will find this a lot easier if you talk about it with a partner or loved ones. If your friends, family and those close to you are aware of the changes that you are trying to make, there's a much better chance that you will see them through. Could you cut the number of times you go out each month? How about your impulse buying and online shopping? How much could you save each month by cutting back on a few luxuries? What are some fun activities or hobbies you could do for free instead?
If these changes don't make enough of a difference, take a look at your other expenses. Could you reduce your food bill by better meal planning or shopping at a discount supermarket? Have you compared car or home insurance rates recently to see if you could be paying less?
If you can be flexible with your daily or weekly schedule, then you can often find plenty of ways to free up funds. How about going to the cinema at a less popular time, when ticket prices are cheaper? Could you schedule your meetings to a little later in the day, so that you can travel off-peak? How about making your lunch, rather than buying it at work? Could you work remotely, or from home, either some or all of the time?
Selling items that you do not need, or no longer use, can be a very effective way to free up funds (and it also can help you to reduce unwanted clutter). There are specialist online retailers, as well as auction sites like eBay, where you can sell your unwanted items. There are buyers out there for CDs, DVDs, games and consoles, and there's a strong market for good quality clothes that you no longer wear. Many people discover that they really enjoy selling stuff they no longer need at boot fairs, quite apart from the valuable income it can generate.
Credit and debit cards make payments easy, and contactless payments are easier still. But you can only use them if you have them with you. Try leaving them at home for a day or two and stick to cash for every purchase that you make.
Cutting your expenses can feel hard, especially if your spending habits have formed over many years. It takes constant repetition to form a new habit, so stick at it. Remember those small sacrifices that you make may bring big rewards in years to come.