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How to Cut Your Budget When There’s Nothing Left to Cut

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What can you do to cut your budget? This is one of the common questions people have. You’ve already done everything you can, but it still does not work.

I remember when my husband and I were struggling after I quit my job to stay home with our first-born. It was tough, and we all know you can’t get blood from a turnip!

Before you look at what you can do to save on your budget, you need to make sure you have one. Your budget needs to be in writing. It needs to be a roadmap showing you where you will spend your money.

Here are some different things we tried, which you can use, too, when you need to cut your budget even more than you already have.

1. Find Ways to Bring in More Money

Of course, you can’t give yourself a raise at your job, but there are other things you can do to bring in more money. We ended up selling items. I found a part-time, work-from-home job with my prior employer and eventually started this site. You sometimes need to look inside and find where your passion lies, and you might find the perfect way to increase your income.

You can find more ideas for how to make money while working from home here. While many of them may not work for you, there might be an idea which turns on that light bulb and sends you off on a path you never would have thought of otherwise.

2. Go a Bit Easier on Yourself

Sit back for a minute and look at where you were before you knew about budgeting and stretching your dollar vs. where you are now. Be proud of what you’ve done and the changes you’ve made. Sometimes, just knowing that you’ve made positive financial changes is enough to make you feel proud. It’s good to celebrate the small victories.

3. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others

This is a tough one. You may see others who claim that they found a way to shave their budget by hundreds of dollars every month. While we would all love to be able to do that, it may not be realistic for you. You may have additional expenses others do not have. Your income is different than theirs. You have your own financial goals. When you stop comparing yourself to others, the need to keep up and compete will stop and you can feel better about your own budget.

4. Look at Your Needs vs. Your Wants

This is a tough one. There are probably things you have in your life which are wants rather than needs (and vice versa). Do you have both a landline and cell phone? If so, do you need both or do you want both? Why not drop the landline?

Take a look at your entertainment. Do you need cable?  Can you try to use another way to knock down your cable bill (or eliminate it completely)? Do you need to eat dinner out once a week — or do you want to dine out?

When we were getting out of debt, we did not eat in a restaurant for more than a year. I kid you not. It was tough, but we survived. The reason was that we determined that it was a want to dine out and not a need. Instead, we took the money we would have spent on dinners out and put it toward our debt instead.

5. Seek Assistance

This may be the time when you need to reach out to get help. There are times when you just can’t make it on your own, and there are programs and services that are here to help. You can check with your local government to find ways to get help with utility bills, apply for food stamps, locate a food pantry and even get assistance with child care.

Just because you ask for help does not mean you are not financially responsible. We all have times when we need a hand, and these organizations can provide it. Once you get back on your feet, you’ll have the chance to pay it forward and help someone else.

6. Cut Your Spending

This may seem simple, but you can do little things to reduce your spending at the store. You can switch from name brands to store brands and consider cutting coupons. While you may not find them for the fruits, vegetables and meats you need, you can find them for the household products you use and many other products around your house. You can combine these with sales to ensure you pay the lowest price possible.

You might also consider changing where you shop. For example, Aldi is an amazing store with some of the lowest prices available. You can easily cut your spending by nearly 50% just by changing to this store. You can find some other ways to slash your grocery bill here.

If your budget is not working, then it is time to make some big moves. It will not be fun. It will not be easy. But it is something you just have to do.

[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]

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