If you’ve ever lost a job or unexpectedly had to go to the emergency room with an expensive bill, you know what it feels like to be strapped for cash. Many of us have gone through something in our lives that has made us worry about our finances – and a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic is no exception.
In times like these, it can be easy to become anxious about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to provide for yourself and your family. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, or you just stay busy to keep from thinking about it.
Whatever your situation, it helps to have a few ways to free up extra cash in the back of your mind to help you get through hard times. And while it’s no way to live long-term, these strategies can help you free up some cash until you’re back on your feet again.
Review Your Subscriptions
Remember signing up for that recipe subscription 3 years ago that costs $5 per month? It’s only $5 a month, but if you never use the product, it’s essentially flushing a $5 bill down the toilet twelve times a year. Really think through your subscriptions, and if you don’t use them, now’s the time to say goodbye.
Or, like many people, you enjoy watching cable television but pay $75 per month for it. And when income is steady and things are good, $75 is likely not going to make or break your bank, but when your income stops or you have a large bill to pay, that $75 could be the difference between having a week’s worth of groceries on the table or not. Call your cable provider to cancel – you never know, they might offer you a better deal to stay on.
Cut Your Expenses
Whether you budget or not, you likely spend money that you didn’t plan to spend that month. It’s easy to walk into a store planning to get a loaf of bread and milk and walk out with the milk, bread, and thirteen different snack foods, too.
If you notice that you frequently leave a store with more than you intended or like to “splurge” or treat yourself to something new, it might be time to implement a “No Spend Month” for your household. It takes a lot of focus and determination, but if your family commits to it, a No Spend Month can be incredibly successful in reorienting your financial priorities, especially when times are tough.
If you can stick to a reasonable grocery budget, not eat out unnecessarily, and not purchase anything outside of what is needed that month, you might be surprised by how much money you end up with at the end of the month.
Start a Side Hustle
Many people have a skill that could be profitable under the right circumstances. You can make excellent use of these skills by selling your services to people in your community. Here is a list of simple side hustles that cost very little to get started but could earn $100s of dollars in your spare time:
- Lawn Mowing Service
- Piano Teacher
- Math Tutor
- Personal Chef
- Dog walker
An excellent way to find jobs like these is on NextDoor.com or on local Facebook groups in your city.
Participate in the Gig Economy
The gig economy that has sprung up in the past decade is making it even easier to earn money quickly and easily. If you have an extra furnished bedroom in the house, rent it out on AirBnb. If you have some spare time and a car, drive for Uber or Lyft.
Admittedly, you might not like the idea of having strangers in your home or car. So another great option for many people is becoming a shopper with grocery delivery services like Instacart. It’s easy to do a little bit at a time, an hour here and there throughout the week. Wow your customers with excellent service, which can result in higher tips for you!
If you’re in a tough financial situation, it can be really hard when a few hundred dollars each month are going to pay off debt that’s leftover from the last time you were tight on cash and ran up your credit card balance.
While this won’t help you immediately, paying off your debt as much as possible when you get your job back or have more financial flexibility really pays off in the end. Imagine not having that $200 credit card bill hanging over your head so you can spend that money to cover your electricity for the month and put a few tanks of gas in the car.
The Way to Financial Confidence
None of these steps are groundbreaking, never-before-heard-of solutions for needing extra money. But the common thread is that getting out of tough financial situation requires initiative and assertiveness to get things back on track. Whether it’s cutting back on your expenses or committing a few hours a week to a new side hustle, it will take work but it will pay off.