If you’re living from paycheck to paycheck you know what it feels like to be down to your last $20 with your next payday barely in sight. While this might sound like mission impossible there are things you could do to live on that last $20 until your next paycheck. Of course, it will mean cutting your expenses down to practically nothing. And you don’t need to panic. Just use the following tips and you may actually be able to survive on that $20.
First, focus on your critical expenses
Before tackling anything else sit down and write out a list of the critical payments that are due before your next paycheck. For most people this would include their utility bills and any minimum payments on student loans or credit card debts. If the situation looks dire you might use that last $20 here or call your creditor(s) to see what arrangements you could make. As examples of this, you might be able to get your due date rescheduled or yiu might get your lender to accept a part payment,
Don’t pay full price – use coupons
If you absolutely can’t avoid purchasing something before your next payday and you need to use some of that last $20, find a coupon and use it on top of a sale price as this will save you the most money possible. You should be able to find the printable coupon you will need on a website such as coupons.com, thekrazycouponlady.com/ or passionforsavings.com/. It won’t take you more than a minute or two to print out the coupon and to locate the store where the item you need is already on sale.
Avoid buying any more gas
Tell yourself that whatever amount of gas you have left in your car must get you through until your next pay check. This means you will need to avoid any scenic rides or unnecessary trips. If you have to run several errands try to bunch them geographically so you can do them all in one trip. How about using your bike for those short trips to the drugstore or grocery store? Depending on the nature of your job you might be able to talk your manager into letting you work from home a day or two so you won’t have to burn gas driving to and from your job. Or maybe you could join a carpool.
Eat out of your pantry
If you really want to make that last $20 stretch until your next payday, you’ll need to avoid buying groceries entirely. Get creative and make meals out of stuff you already have in your pantry or cabinets. There’s a second benefit to this, which is that you’ll use up food that may be nearing expiration.
Do a little Googling and you’ll find there are a huge number of one-pot meals that can be made for less than $10 or even less than $5.
When you make cheap meals where you will have leftovers this can help reduce your spending until your next payday. As an example of this we occasionally fix a batch of One Pot Vegetable Soup whose ingredients don’t cost much more $5 but will last us for at least three meals.
Get your entertainment free at your local library
Since there’s no way you can afford to go to the movies you’ll need to find free entertainment. And the easiest way to do this is by going to your local library. You should be able to check out a good film on DVD and then schedule a movie night at home. If you don’t read much, now would be a good time to start. Just check out a few books or some magazines to read until your next paycheck. And if you bike or walk to your library it’ll cost you nothing but a little bit of time.
Learn to negotiate
Believe it or not there are very few things that can’t be negotiated. In fact, many experts say you should try to negotiate even when you think you shouldn’t. For example, if you need a new inner tube for your bike, try haggling a bit. You might be surprised at how much money you can save just by asking. You should be able to negotiate the price of just about anything listed on Craigslist. Need a new shirt? Forget Macy’s or even Walmart and try a secondhand store. This is yet another place where you could save money by negotiating prices. In fact, regardless of what you’re buying and its price, always at least ask, “Gee, is there anyway you could do any better on this price?”
Find free stuff online
Did something that isn’t a necessity but that makes your life more enjoyable — like your coffee maker or microwave — just die? The good news is that you don’t have to run out and buy a new one. Go to Craigslist instead and look in the its free section. The odds are good that someone will be giving away the item that you want. Of course, you will need to make sure the item works before bringing it home. Otherwise you’ll just be carting away someone else’s junk. If you can’t find the item, you need for free try bartering for it.
Reschedule your social commitments
If you get invited to go out to dinner, to a game or to a club, we know it’s hard to admit that you’re almost broke. So to stretch that last $20 just tell your friends that you’re saving aggressively and then try to reschedule that social engagement for some time after your next payday when you have more money available. Alternately, you could say yes to a commitment but change things a bit. For example, instead of going to dinner and then to a game, you could have dinner at home and then meet your friends at the arena or ballpark. That alone should save you $20. You could also consider inviting your friends over for coffee at your house or suggest a potluck dinner at your home.