Sometimes it seems like good cash flow can be hard to hold on to. Even those of us who are thrifty and closely manage our finances can fall into weeks and months where it seems like the expenses just pile high with no end in sight.
If this happens for a long enough period of time, we describe that time period as being one in which money is just “tight”. We’ve got enough to live and be comfortable, sure, but not much extra.
Also Read: 5 Money Wasting Products You Should Avoid
Aside from the wealthiest among us, these stretches come and go for almost everyone. Knowing how to handle the times when our cash flow slows or is impeded by unexpected bills, is important to getting through those tough times in our lives and coming out of it stronger.
When cash is short, we need to spend smart and avoid making frivolous purchases of things we don’t need, or could get cheaper somewhere else.
Unfortunately, it’s often the case that to get out of those situations we need to give up certain things, or at least put some effort into finding them cheaper somewhere else.
1. $4 Coffee
You can make coffee at your house for one dollar or less if you use a Keurig cup or even 10 cents if you use grounds like Maxwell House. Paying four dollars for something from Starbucks is completely unnecessary when you’re trying to save money . Make your coffee at home.
2. Movie Theaters
The movie theater is fine once in a while especially for those films that are much more enjoyable on the big screen. But if money is tight, paying 10 dollars to watch a movie isn’t a good idea. If two of you go, that means you drop an easy 20, and that’s if you avoid the temptation to buy popcorn and sodas, which are also overpriced. Redbox rentals are scarcely over a dollar, and an online Netflix subscription is only eight dollars per month. Go with one of those two options instead of the theater.
3. Clothing You Don’t Need
If money is tight but there’s something you really need in the way of clothing, go out and look for it at a decent price, while taking care to avoid trendy clothing that will end up being more expensive.
If you can’t honestly look at your wardrobe and say that you are lacking anything, you probably shouldn’t be shopping for clothes if money is already snug. Be happy with what you have until you get back on your feet, and then spring for some new clothes.
4. More TV Channels or DVR
If you have DirecTV or something similar, they’ll often try to sell you movie channel packages like HBO and Starz or even get you to upgrade to DVR. They’ll advertise it as being a rare discounted price that you won’t be able to get later, which will make you want to jump at the chance to add the luxury to your television experience.
Consider that if you didn’t want it before they called, it’s not worth it to buy once they’re trying to sell it to you over the phone or through a commercial. Besides, DVR and HBO aren’t something you should be worrying about when you’re trying to re-establish your cash flow.
5. Restaurant Meals
Handling restaurant expenses is always a tough line to walk. It’s nice to be able to go and have a meal out once a week or so, but making a habit of it can end up costing you and your family a tremendous amount of money.
The price of eating at a restaurant is always much higher than if you were to cook at home, therefore paying the extra expense for your food when money is tight is hard to justify. During those times, try and keep meals in-house until your cash flow loosens up again.
Unless something you already have breaks and needs to be replaced, new TVs, computers and other tempting electronics should be ignored if you’re in a situation where you have bills to pay and barely enough to do so. Set aside some money every week so that you have enough to buy the electronic item you want when you get your bills paid down.
While you can’t anticipate when you’re going to run into tough financial times, you can prepare for it, and you can know up front how to handle your purchasing and expenses once you’re there.
Having to be tight with your money is usually a temporary thing if you do it right, so don’t feel like these things should be permanently out of your reach. Just put them on the shelf until you establish some freedom in your finances and get back to a more regular and predictable cash flow.
Giving up these things is never about constricting your freedom, but allowing you to get yourself back to a state of financial freedom and independence. Once you do, you can spring for movies and dinners out, without having the weight of a difficult financial situation bearing down on you.
Jenny Willis is a professional blogger who enjoys providing consumers with personal finance advice. She writes for Purechecks.com, a leading check printing company of designer personal and business checks.