How to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Staci Upmeyer
May 11, 2017

For a lot of Americans, money is tight. In fact, investor publication The Motley Fool reports half of us are living paycheck to paycheck, so it should come as no surprise that 49% of all employees feel anxious about their finances, according to MetLife. Money problems are stressful, but don’t let these numbers get you down. Take control of your finances with our money-saving tips.

Make a Budget.
Okay, this may sound like a no-brainer, but most Americans don’t have—or don’t stick to—a monthly budget. That’s a real problem. Making a budget is not difficult so there’s no excuse to pass on this chore. Mint and EveryDollar are free budgeting apps you can use, or go old-school with pencil, paper, and a calculator.

Change simple eating habits.
According to this CreditLoan infographic, the average American family spends over $7,000 a year on food with the BLS reporting that $3000 of that is spent on dining out. That’s a lot of take-out and happy hours. Simply cutting back on how much you eat at restaurants can save you big-time. Here are some other ways to cut food costs:

  • Make a grocery list. Yep, your grandma was right: you spend less money at the market if you make and stick to your grocery list. And it’s also true that you shouldn’t shop hungry! Your appetite can increase your purchase amount significantly.
  • Make a monthly meal plan. You’ll save money on your grocery bill and waste less food if you are armed with a plan. We suggest making two or three monthly meal plans you can rotate easily. A quick meal-planning search online will give you a ton of ideas.
  • Eat leftovers for lunch. Daily lunches out with your co-workers adds up fast. Consider an average lunch costing $10+ each weekday, totaling $200+ a month. Instead, opt for packing your lunch from home. Save time by simply making extra dinner the night before and bringing leftovers.
  • Skip the latte. Shelling out $5 a cup for fancy coffee every morning can cost you over $100 a month. Make your cup of joe at home or choose money-saving black coffee without the frills (not to mention the calories), and save the latte for special occasions.

Trading might seem like a lost art, but can be a huge money-saver. Start by considering your skills—professionally as well as personally—and offer to trade services with a fellow professional. Maybe cook and freeze meals in exchange for piano lessons. Or do some accounting for the dentist. Write fresh web content in exchange for a discount off private school tuition. The sky’s limit, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Use the library.
Seriously, libraries are a well of untapped and underutilized knowledge and entertainment. Not only could all of us benefit from watching less TV and reading more books, but libraries offer much more than hardbacks: movies, music, audio books, and even online courses just to name a few. And it’s FREE. All of it.

We live in a culture that tells us we can never have enough, making it difficult to choose when, where, and how to spend appropriately. Dare to be different in this consumer-driven society. The truth is we don’t need a lot to live—food, shelter, water, and relationships. When you realize the rest is extra, you’ll have more success saving and enjoying your money frugally.

Job Advice

Layoffs: 3 Tips to Prepare for One

Lindsey Curtis
May 4, 2017

Ask anyone who has faced a layoff, and they’ll tell you a stable job is not to be taken for granted. We like to think our jobs are secure, but all too often budget cuts and other management decisions take us by surprise. In fact, hundreds of layoffs were recently reported at Boeing and several Indiana companies like Roche Diabetes Care, Carrier Corp., United Technologies, and Rexnord. As much as the economy has rebounded in recent years, layoffs are unfortunately still a reality for many. We can’t constantly live in fear of losing our job, but we can make a plan and be more prepared. We’ve got three practical tips that are sound advice for anyone, but especially those whose job may be in jeopardy.

  1. Look at Your Budget

People experience many emotions when they lose a job—fear, anxiety, anger, and even depression. The last thing you need is a money crisis on top of an already-stressful ordeal. When you’re hitting the panic button, a money cushion will take a huge weight off your shoulders. Take a peek at your finances to ensure they’re in order. We recommend you:

  • Make a household budget. Mint and Everydollar are free, just punch in your numbers.
  • Save three to six months of living expenses if possible. Pull out a calculator and figure out how much you need to get by for a few months, then protect that money in a hands-off savings account.
  • Consider trimming the fat off current expenses to stockpile extra cash faster. Figure out what you can live without and get rid of it.
  • Get a part-time job or do freelance work to beef up savings, if possible. Many people are able to exercise skills and passions that their “normal” jobs don’t allow this way.
  1. Polish Your Resume

Ideally your resume should be updated regularly, but if you haven’t touched it since you landed your job, now’s a good time. Add any recent job experiences, title changes, volunteer work, and skill updates. If you get laid off, you’ll be glad your resume is ready to go without any additional work needed. Same goes for your LinkedIn profile: update your job history, polish any rough edges, add a professional photo, and upload relevant media to catch a recruiter’s eye.

  1. Network

Start networking before a layoff happens. Meet (or communicate digitally) with people inside and outside of your company, attend networking or other special events, and keep in touch with well-connected contacts and previous employers. Ask friends and family to keep an ear open for new opportunities. Utilize social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to make new connections and nurture existing ones. You never know who might open that next job opportunity door for you.

Layoffs are scary, no doubt. But it’s important to stay calm and think logically instead of letting anxiety, fear, or anger guide your decisions. Chances are your situation isn’t as bad as it feels. So if a layoff comes your way, take a deep breath, make a plan, and embrace the next adventure in your journey. If you or someone you know needs to start looking for that next opportunity, get in touch with our friendly recruiters. We’d love to help.