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For many years, my husband and I mentored couples who needed financial counseling at our church. Stands to reason since both of our backgrounds were in business, and because we dug ourselves out of a huge financial hole ourselves some years before, becoming debt-free.
Some were victims of circumstance, others were victims of their own poor decisions. But one thing is for sure, there are times when you need extra cash and you just don’t have it. Making some quick cash isn’t hard, if you’re willing to be creative and committed.
Lowering your expenses is a much quicker way to bring money to your bottom line, rather than trying to earn extra money, at least in the short term. For every $100 you earn, you’re only going to take home about $70. Yet, if you cut out an expense, you’ve saved the full amount!
Again, from years of financial mentoring, I know that people tend to struggle in the same areas. Let’s unpack this and give you some tools right away.
This is a huge part of virtually everyone’s budget. I’ll go further and say that I can almost guarantee that you’re spending too much to feed yourself and family. Here’s where you can bring money to the bottom line very quickly, by making different decisions starting this week!
I can also almost guarantee you that you won’t die of starvation or suffer needlessly. You’re just going to make some different decisions in order to have more money left over at the end of the week.
What are your eating habits as a family? Every family is different with their schedules and dynamics, but take a look at how your family eats and what they eat. Do the adults work? If so, what are they eating at mealtime? If there are children, how and what are they eating at mealtime? Who makes the decisions about what the children eat?
Ok, if you’re going to begin with new habits, you’ve got to have a plan. If you just wing this, nothing will come of it. Studies show that in order to create a new habit in your brain, you need to do something for about 28 days. There’s a lot of power in new habits!
Let’s start with breakfast, which can be a very expensive meal if the kids are eating boxed cereal, pop-tarts or some other pre-packaged meal/item. One ounce of sugary, name-brand cereal can cost .25 cents, and my kids could easily woof down 6-8 ounces of cold cereal at one sitting, PLUS the milk. Multiplied times the number of kids…..you can do the math.
However, if you make a quick pot of oatmeal and feed the entire family with it, you’ve spent just a few cents. A dozen eggs is about $1.75, and if you scramble 6 of them and make some toast, you also spent less than $1 to feed the children. Not buying breakfast cereal for a week can save you at least $10, immediately! That’s just ONE item!
Here’s some more about boxed-cereal alternatives….
What about lunch? Do the kids eat at school? Do parents eat out at work? Here’s where you can save a bundle as well. I don’t know about where you live, but in Ohio, you’ll spend somewhere between $7-10 for a burger and fries type lunch. Easy math would be 5 work days x $10 = $50 for one person. What if you packed your lunch for a week? You could buy some lunch meat at the store or bring leftovers, but think of some way to bring food from home and you’ll save cash quickly.
Our kids always pack their lunch for school. For one, they don’t like the school lunches, and they don’t get filled up anyway. They pack peanut butter or turkey sandwiches, boiled eggs, cheese sticks, fruit/veggies cut up, yogurt, cookies and whatever else they can find, and they drink water. I can’t imagine the amount of money I would have to spend for them eat at school!
Taking the time on Sunday to make sure the frig has several options for the family to pack will keep stress down during the week. Ask your family what they would enjoy in their lunches and make a reasonable effort to accommodate them.
Snacks for after school? Here’s where a little baking on the weekends can help tremendously during the week. Quick breads are super easy to make and cheap as well! I make a lot of banana bread and freeze them, so it’s easy for the kids to grab on their own. I also buy whatever fruit is in season and keep it handy in a bowl on the counter. Avoid chips and pre-packaged cookies and snacks! They are expensive and nutritionally void.
Dinnertime! Hopefully, dinner is a time when you and your family can sit down together and share about your day. When kids are involved in sports or working outside the home, sometimes a sit-down dinner isn’t possible. Here is where the temptation to grab something out can train wreck your budget if you’re not careful!
Keep dinner simple and doable. Utilize your slow cooker for wonderful meals that can be served easily! If one of our kids has to be at practice 2 hours before I plan to serve dinner, they can just grab a plate and scoop out whatever is in the slow-cooker and eat early. This happens frequently when it’s basketball season around here.
When I look at the week ahead, I know who needs to be where and on what days. Busy days need to have that crock-pot going early in the morning!
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! It doesn’t have to be an amazing plan, but at least have one! Look at next week, even now, and begin to form a plan to eat from home as much as possible. Plan to have someone do some baking, again, just something simple. Sit down and talk as a couple/family about how you can make some changes this week and bring more money to your bottom line!
You might be scratching your head and wondering why “Gifts” is being discussed. Do you buy that many gifts? Yes, you do. It’s shocking when you think about it.
Every single month of the year, you are faced with gift-giving or contributory decisions. Here is where money is slipping through your fingers, in the name of guilt for the most part!
Each and every month of the year has expectations for you to spend your money! I’ll start with the “Hallmark” holidays, the ones that were created so that you could buy something for someone. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Boss’s day, Sweetest Day, Halloween and so many more, here’s a list. What are your family’s expectations for these holidays??
Then we have all of the religious holidays, Easter, Christmas, Hanukah, etc. where everyone and their brother thinks you owe them a gift.
THEN, we have all of your family’s birthdays, then your wedding anniversary.
Wait, then at school, there are fundraisers all over the place, and Teacher Appreciation Days, and expectations for teacher and coach’s gifts.
At work, there are office pools and expectations to pitch in for things!
Do you see where your cash is going? Even if you just buy a card, it can cost you $10!
When my husband and I were trying to get out of debt 25 years ago, we made a firm (albeit unpopular) decision to “just say NO” to all of the above. Exceptions were for our children’s birthdays and Christmas, but we kept those very reasonable. You might not be popular, but you’ll have more money in your pocket this month.
If you owe a bill that you can’t afford to pay, consider offering some service in exchange. Maybe you’re handy around the house, or can offer a professional service of some kind. Do you have a product you could offer? Can you fix plumbing or electric? How about computer work?
I’m reading more and more about people using this method, even physicians! Some doctors are having such a hard time collecting from insurance that they’re taking goods and services in exchange for medical care!
The key to being successful is to deal with the “decision maker” or a manager of some kind, you don’t want to have to present your offer to multiple people. Make sure you think through what you’re offering and consider what they might need!
I bartered some homemade soap and honey for about 20 laying hens!
If you can establish some sort of exchange, this is money that goes directly to your bottom line!
I did a lot of this last summer, mostly on Facebook marketplace, but depending on what you’re selling, Craigslist might be a better choice. This can be quick cash! Look around your home for things that you really don’t need. Then get on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist and see what other items like yours are going for. You might be very surprised at what you can get for your item!
A friend with some old, large bird cages made some serious money on Facebook! You just never know.
I would love to hear how you have generated extra cash for bills when you needed it!