For many people, making their pay-check last until the next payday is no mean feat. In fact, new findings from Scottish Friendly show almost 22 million people worry about making ends meet each month, with four million of these starting to worry within days of getting paid.
Given that eking out the last few pennies over the final few days of the month can be a pretty miserable experience, here we take a look at the steps you can take to stay in the black from one pay packet to the next.
Resist the temptation to splurge
For many of us, getting paid is a signal to go out and splurge. This could be on clothes or accessories, a flash new gadget you’ve had your eye on, or maybe just a big night out with friends.
As a result, lots of us can end up spending a decent wodge of our salary within hours of getting paid. Rather than do this every month, try setting yourself a realistic spending limit for the first few days, and then be disciplined about sticking to this.
While you might have the occasional slip-up, you should find there’s still money in your bank account a little later in the month than you’re used to.
Use cash instead of cards
Another good way to avoid frittering money away is by paying for everything with cash, rather than on your debit or credit card. Take only notes and coins with you next time you hit the shops, and you’ll find it a whole lot harder to hand over your hard-earned money on impulse buys.
Cut back a little on day-to-day spending
A simple way to make your pay packet stretch that little bit further is by making a few small tweaks to your daily routine. This might mean swapping your morning coffee for an instant coffee, or taking your own packed lunch rather than shelling out for costly shop-bought sandwiches.
While you’re in the frugal mood, why not try cutting back on the number of pints you have in the pub mid-week, or limiting the times you call for a take-away at the weekend?
Work out where your money goes
If you find you’ve spent most of your pay-check in just a week or two, look closely at exactly where your money is going. Dig out your recent bank statements, and look at the things you’ve paid for; also keep a spending diary.
As well as regular outgoings such as household bills, remember to note down annual bills, such as the MOT for the car, holidays, birthdays and Christmas. Look at each item in turn, and ask yourself first if you can manage without it – and then whether you can reduce the amount you pay.
If you’re not making good use of gym memberships and magazine subscriptions, say, think about cancelling your direct debits. For other expenses, such as your energy bills, phone and broadband payments, see if you can save money by switching provider, changing tariff, or in some cases by using less.
Set a budget
Once you’ve got a grip on your income and outgoings, now is the time to draw up a budget.
Set up direct debits so your essential bills go out as soon as you’ve been paid, and then allow money for other expenses such as food and transport.
At this stage, split any remaining money into weekly amounts, and work hard to keep your spending within this limit. By taking control of your spending in this way, you should still have some salary in your account when the next payday comes around.
If you are still struggling…
If after taking these steps you find you are still struggling to make ends meet each month, you might want to think about getting some help. This is far better than burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away.
There is free and impartial advice available from Stepchange.org, Nationaldebtline.org and Citizens Advice.