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It’s not the happiest subject, but it’s one that we’re all having to face right now. Many countries across the world are going through a cost of living crisis. This is when we experience a fall in ‘real’ disposable incomes (the amount that we have to spend after inflation, after taxes and after benefits) that is being caused by high levels of inflation outstripping wage and benefit increases.
In short, we’re earning the same amount we did a few years ago, but the cost of near enough anything has gone up and we’re struggling to keep up. Many people, at this point, are finding that they just don’t have enough to get by and are at a loss as to what to do in order to keep afloat.
Nobody wants to sink into debt right now, as few people have realistic and manageable means of getting out of it. Sure, times are hard right now and there might not be a fair or reasonable answer to everything, but here are a few things that you can do to help yourself navigate this situation a little more easily.
A lot of people are struggling right now. The government are aware of this. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on the news and keep track of different grants and support schemes that are being offered by both the government and many private companies right now.
Knowing what help is available to you will allow you to apply for the things that you need to get by. If you’re unsure, search schemes in your area. There are plenty of resources out there that can guide you in the right direction.
To get by, you’re going to need to make sure to stick to a budget at the moment. Wave goodbye to overspending and consider it a thing of the past. Sinking into debt right now is the last thing you want to do, as you don’t want to struggle even further under the burden of owed money and interest rates. There are plenty of online tools out there that can help to create a budget for you.
In short, you will need to know your current income (or your take home pay), as well as all of the bills you have to cover on a monthly basis. These tools will essential subtract your necessary outgoings from your take home pay and display how much disposable income you have left.
Make sure to update your budget every time you experience a change in circumstances, whether that’s earning more or earning less. This will give you a more informed and accurate view of your situation at all times. Of course, the most important step in creating a strict budget is sticking to it. There’s no point doing this work and then ignoring the advice and guidance it provides you with.
Go through your bank statements. See where you are spending money. You may want to note this down, splitting things into categories. Identify which spending is essential. Then take a look at your non essential spending. This could be eating out, activities, luxury product purchases and more.
Seeing how you spend can give you the opportunity to identify where you can cut spending. You can weigh up all of the things that you’re doing and determine which you’d like to continue over which can be cut out or reduced.
Sure, we’d all love to stick to our old spending habits, but this isn’t possible right now, so it’s important to start making informed choices on when to say no. You may even find that you can DIY certain things - look at the operators manual of your car if lights come on, watch tutorials on how to do basic home repairs and more.
Reduce waste wherever possible. Getting the most out of everything you buy will help to make things last longer and reduce your spending. Be more vigilant with your meals. Save scraps for later meals.
Good examples include creating hash from leftover potatoes and vegetables, or bubble and squeak from leftovers from dinner. The same goes for toiletries.
Using everything in every bottle before you throw it away will reduce the time between replacements and reduce ongoing spending in general. You should also consider repairing clothes rather than disposing of them and buying something new if possible. There are plenty of videos and tutorials out there that will help you to make something from little.
It’s not ideal, but when times get really hard, you may need to reach out to a food bank that will be able to provide you with support during these trying times. They will be able to provide you with some of the basics that are needed to keep going through each day, from food to basic toiletries.
Is your workplace offering overtime? You may need to pick up some extra work to cover the essentials. The important thing to do here is to find balance. You don’t want to overwork yourself and burn yourself out by taking too much on, but a few extra hours here and there can build up hours and more income.
This isn’t fair, but many people are having to seek alternative sources of income right now just to stay afloat. Second jobs are becoming increasingly common. Consider your skillsets and consider alternative sources of income around your main job.
This could be some shiftwork elsewhere. It could be registering as a taxi driver. It could be freelancing and selling your services to clients. The list of options goes on and only you can know what will work best for you. But all in all, you should be able to find something that can boost your income when you need it most.
Hopefully, some of the information above will help you to navigate this cost of living crisis. Sure, times are hard right now, but many of us are in the same boat and will benefit a lot from some of the information outlined above.
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