There is a lot of bad news around the economy nowadays. First there was Covid, then there was Ukraine, and now there is inflation. It’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet, never mind trying to save for the future. If you are struggling with your finances, take a look at our tips to make things easier.
Rethink your utilities
Some of the biggest hikes in prices due to inflation right now are in energy bills. It’s causing a lot of problems around the world. There are shortages of fuel and gas, causing a lot of soaring prices.
Plus, we should all be using less energy anyway. We’re still in the midst of a climate crisis, which means the less energy we use that isn’t renewable, the better for the planet. So, we should all be looking at what we’re using in the home.
Get into the habit of switching off anything you aren’t using at the socket, or the light switch. Why waste good money on the kitchen light when you’re watching TV in the living room. This can be made a little easier with either a smart light, some of which have motion detectors and dials for how bright you want them so that you’re using less energy to create an ambience. Even better, there are smart plugs available that have a timer in them and will switch everything off at the source when you’re in bed so that extra energy isn’t spend on the TV or console on standby mode.
Heating is a particular problem in the winter months. Look into electric blankets and mattresses to make things easier. You can stay warm for pennies, rather than the many dollars it will take to heat up the house from the ground up.
Wipe out that debt
You know the old adage of “You’ve got to spend money to make money”? Well, that’s especially true for big financial problems like debt and mortgages. Both of these things come with interest.
This is especially important with debt, as the interest on debt can be as much of a burden as the debt itself. You can get into a cycle of paying off only the last lot of interest on your debt only to be landed with more next month and the result is not having made a dent in the debt itself.
No one is saying that it will be easy, but it is the best way to get rid of a chunk of unnecessary financial stress and have more spending money available. If you have an injection of money, say from a side venture or an inheritance, put it towards your debt first.
In the meantime, if you don’t have that kind of luck, you can transfer your debt into a balance transfer card to avoid the steep interest rates or look into wiping it all off with an auto loan.
Getting your debt out of the way will allow you to save better for other bigger financial items without struggling to put food on the table. Try this 6-month savings challenge to really achieve your financial goals.
Pay off your mortgage
If you do happen to have a good amount of luck financially and no debt to worry about, your money would be best going towards your mortgage. The same way you should be paying more than the minimum monthly amount to your debt, you should be putting more into your mortgage. Paying more will mean that you can avoid years of rising interest rates that could make it harder to pay off your mortgage.
You will be spending money in the short term in order to save money in the long term. If you have a little extra each month, it should be going towards your debt, then your mortgage. Find out more about the benefits of a paid off house here.
The little things
These are big things, that are difficult to implement if you’re simply trying to survive day to day, so we’ve got a collection of little tips that should make that easier.
Swap Netflix for YouTube. No longer is YouTube the place for 10-minute-long videos. You’ve got (perhaps a few) hour-long videos reaching you, featuring everything from skits to analysis to mukkbang. Even if you decide it’s not engrossing, you can definitely comfort content and 90% of the time, isn’t that what you really want? If you’re only keeping Netflix to watch The Office for the 20th time, switch to YouTube. Or at least slim down from dozens of streaming services to one. Netflix might blame its loss of subscribers on everything from password sharing to Russia, but some of us are just finding that the likes of Amazon Prime and HBO are offering better shows.
Break out the bicycle. The commute is definitely the biggest gas guzzler and driving to work might not be the most practical option. Taking the train or bus is an option, but it also costs, to the point that you might as well drive. It might be a better idea to get the bike out instead. If possible, you can walk, and get a good bit of exercise for a low impact alternative, but if you get the bike out, you can get a good cardio workout on the way too and from the office in a fraction of the time.
And speaking of working out, try working out from home. Get rid of that gym membership and look into anything else you can do for free. At home, you can download pilates, dance, yoga and other exercise classes and clear a space in the living room to get moving.
In the wider world, take advantage of nature. Instead of heading to the pool, try wild swimming. As long as you have a swimming costume, something on your feet you don’t care about and a tolerance for various ranging temperatures, you’ll love it. If walking’s more your thing, join a hiking group and feel the burn on your calves and the achievement of reaching the top. Look into rollerblading, rock climbing and anything else you love and see where you can do it for free.