According to a CareerBuilder survey, 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and that was before the cash crunch that landed on many households during COVID-19. If you find yourself short on cash every month, one of the best strategies you can develop is looking at your budget for expenses you don’t really need.
Here are common expenses you may be able to reduce or eliminate to improve your monthly cash flow.
In the 2020s, most people would call a working cell phone a need, not a want. But that doesn’t mean you need the latest phone the day it comes out or an expensive unlimited data plan. Many people use only a couple of gigabytes of data per month and could save a bundle by cutting back to a pay-per-gig phone plan. Spend some time comparing the many plans available.
Struggling to make your phone payments? Check out Payactiv: Payactiv enables you to access into your paycheck before payday with Earned Wage Access (EWA). If you’ve already worked the hours, you can use the Payactiv app to get paid before payday. It’s not a loan, so there are no interest charges and there’s nothing to pay back. Learn more here.
Cable subscriptions can easily cost more than $100 per month, or $1,200 per year. When you use a streaming service or two instead, you’ll probably pay under $40 per month. That’s a significant savings. Just don’t go too crazy signing up for every streaming service out there or you could wind up paying more than you would for cable. Almost all providers now have “skinny bundles” which allow you to choose only the channels you want, which can offer substantial savings.
If you’re already using streaming services instead of cable, take a look at those subscriptions to make sure they are all worth the cost for you. Also, look at subscription meal services, monthly boxes, “of the month” clubs, software subscriptions, and anything else you pay for automatically. Every time you cut a subscription, the savings start adding up the next month.
If you love a certain restaurant near where you work or enjoy a morning stop at a favorite coffee shop, there’s no reason you can’t indulge every once in a while. But if you’re tight on funds, this is an easy place to cut back and save money. Even if it isn’t as good, the free coffee at work doesn’t cost you anything. Bringing your lunch most days is also typically much cheaper than going out for a sandwich, salad, burrito, or another treat.
Keeping tabs on your credit report is important for your long-term financial health. Many companies are happy to sell you a subscription that gives you all three of your credit reports, credit scores, and includes credit monitoring. But savvy consumers know you can get most of that for free, including powerful credit monitoring. By law, you can get your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Credit services like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame include your credit report, credit score, and credit monitoring – all for free.
If you don’t pay close attention, it’s easy for your financial situation to get out of control. A good budget, Earned Wage Access, and cutting back on expenses that don’t bring value to your life are all strategies that can turn financial fragility into financial stability.
If you need a little extra help, make sure to check out Payactiv’s integrated budgeting and savings tools, which are available for free to all members. We even give everyone free access to financial counseling. If you don’t have Payactiv at your workplace, tell your HR department that you want the Payactiv benefit. It’s a win-win for employers and employees. Learn more about how it works today.