If you struggle to make your salary last from one pay day to the next, and that last week before your next pay check feels like about six months then you’re in good company. A study by Santander also found that most British people run out of money on average five days before payday, with 64 percent regularly making sacrifices in the days preceding their next pay packet. All that makes for sobering reading indeed – BUT – there are ways to avoid this miserable monthly experience if you’re willing to start disciplining yourself and making some changes to how you think about money.
The first thing to do is to find out exactly what you’re spending your money on. An easy way to do this is to create a simple spreadsheet to detail incomings (your monthly pay and any other income you receive regularly) and fixed outgoings (bills, mortgage/rent and other debts such as credit cards, and so on). Divide ‘one off’ costs such as car and home insurance up over the twelve months so you know exactly what you are spending. Once you’ve done that you can see exactly what you’ve got left. You’ll also need to include an approximate figure for food and petrol. Once this has been done you can see exactly how much you’ve got left for ‘luxuries’.
Your luxuries should then be prioritised. But first let us address the definition of luxuries. Luxuries don’t just cover theatre tickets, eating out for dinner and mini breaks. Things such as Sky TV – do you actually NEED every package they offer – in fact, do you really NEED any of them? The answer to that is of course, no – you don’t need them, therefore they’re a luxury.
You’ve got that fancy gym membership which you haven’t used in three months. Get rid of it! This may be problematic if you are still tied into a contract but if not there’s no reason for you to be paying out £50.00 a month for something you’re not using – no matter how much you say you’re going to start. If you really want to exercise get outside in the fresh air and start jogging or power walking. Take some friends with you; that will add a social element to it and also an air of competition!
Think about your social life. If you eat out a lot start inviting friends over for dinner instead. If you want to be a bit creative, ask your guests to bring a dish with them and have a buffet! My mother and her friends do this often – each person brings a ‘plate’ with them; this means that the expense of the evening doesn’t fall onto one person – in this case, you. Host a movie night or a games night – the possibilities are endless. Your friends will catch on and soon you’ll have a more active social life than you’ve got now probably – for a fraction of the cost.
You may love your double cap chocolate macchiato on the way to work every day, but it’s costing you £3.50 a go. Instead, buy yourself an insulated coffee mug and make your own. Taking your own lunch to work could save you around £4.00 a day – that’s £80.00 a month! And it doesn’t have to be boring – think laterally! Fill your lunch boxes with such tasty delights as pasta with pesto and pine nuts, couscous, brie and walnut salad or falafel with hummus and soon your work mates will be looking at your lunch with envious eyes!
It’s down to choices. But if you really want to be able to get through the month without breaking into a sweat when you hand over your debit then you need to start making the right ones. The fact is if you can’t afford to pay your gas bill then you can’t afford to go to the pub for a drink. It’s that simple!