How to Survive on a Reduced Income

Even at the best of times, money can cause a great deal of stress in a person’s life. Despite working full time, the bills continue to pile up and your bank account continues to dwindle. Or maybe you’re finally edging ahead when the unexpected happens and you find yourself wondering how you’re going to make ends meet now that you’ve been laid off.

The most important thing you have to do now is come to terms with the fact that your old lifestyle is no longer within your means. It can be a difficult transition, but it’s one you can’t afford not to make. You’ve got to realize that when you’re forced to tighten the purse strings, things you used to take for granted now become luxuries – and many of your luxuries are going to have to go, depending on how badly your income’s been hit.

Now is the time to review your expenses and recalculate your budget. Separate your fixed expenses from your variable expenses and look for solutions and alternatives. Your fixed expenses are the payments you’re just going to have to deal with – your mortgage, car payments, and so on. They’re a done deal and need to be paid, no questions asked. Your variable expenses, however, are another issue entirely. These are the expenses that you have control over, and this is where you choose what you’re willing to sacrifice to keep a roof over your head. That daily morning coffee from Starbucks, your weekly date night, and extra channels on your TV plan will have to go if you’re going to make it through unscathed.

Finding cheap alternatives that resemble your normal lifestyle is a great way to keep your sanity in check when you’re trying to get by on a reduced income. Rather than going out with friends for dinner and a movie, invite them over to a potluck dinner and have a movie night at home or bust out some board games for a change. If you’re in need of new clothes, avoid pricey stores and check out some cheaper stores or even thrift stores. Now is no time to let your pride get in your way! There is nothing wrong with store-brand groceries or clothes that aren’t name-brand.

Even if you are still making money, it’s smart to look around for a new job or for other ways to supplement your income while you wait for things to improve. Best case scenario: you find a great job that pays even more than your previous one; worst case scenario: you still bring in a bit more money to ease financial strain.

Money is often closely associated with status and pride in today’s society, making it a touchy subject. But when money is tight, you must let go of your ego and face reality: you have been hit with hard times, and you can no longer afford to live the same way you used to. Eventually your financial situation will brighten, and it is then that you can loosen up the purse strings and return to your old lifestyle if you feel so inclined. Most people have gone through it or will go through it at some point and there’s no shame in that. All you can do in the meantime is adjust your budget, monitor your spending, and look for new ways to bring in money.