When There is More Month than Money*

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Do you ever get to the end of your monthly income before you get to the end of the month?  It happens to everyone at some point.  The culprit might be an unexpected expense, such as a car repair or medical bill.  Or you became distracted and didn’t watch your expenses as closely as you usually do.

Hopefully you have an emergency cushion to get you over the hump.  When you don’t, however, some improvisation is in order.

Shop your kitchen pantry.  If funds are low at the end of the month, explore cutting some items out of your grocery budget.  Dig through your pantry shelves and see what treasures you can find.  If you have children, make it fun by announcing “creative mealtime.”  Solicit their help to create healthful (if inventive!) combinations for your meals.  We do this from time to time even when funds aren’t short.  It’s a terrific way to clean some things out of the freezer and pantry!

Conduct a “Buying Fast.”  Just stop.  Commit to buying absolutely nothing for the rest of the month.  You might have to make exceptions like gas for your vehicle but be as vigilant as you can.  Engage the rest of your household to join the good fight: It always improves morale when you make a game of your challenge.

Pick up some odd jobs.  Let your friends and family know you need some extra income this month and discover some income-producing opportunities.  You might like what you find and decide to incorporate it into your regular life!

Sell some stuff.  We all have things we don’t really need.  Brainstorm some of your more valuable, but unneeded items and list them for sale on Craigslist or other online marketplaces.  A couple hours of work identifying items and posting them for sale might generate a decent additional monthly income.  The added benefit of this strategy is that you are also decluttering!

Work extra hours.  Does your employer allow extra hours or overtime?  If so, inquire about projects you can take on to give your next paycheck a little boost.

Once you procure some additional funds or sufficiently cut expenses to make it through the month, analyze what went wrong.  Were you inattentive?  Was it an unforeseen expense that tanked your budget?  Whatever the reason, here are some ways to prevent an encore performance of the stomach-turning stress of more month than money.

Build up your emergency cushion.  If your cash supply was less than optimal, create a plan to build up a better emergency cushion.  Emergencies, after all, are why you have an emergency fund!  If you tapped your fund to cover your shortfall, your first priority is to replace what you used.  Then set a specific goal and strategy to increase your overall cushion going forward.

Take a closer look at your budget.  Is this “more month than money” scenario a regular visitor in your life?  Where can you cut back some of your regular monthly expenses to build in more breathing room each month?  Can you generate more income regularly to assist your monthly budget?

Do a regular mid-month check-in.  Take running stock of how things are going before you run out of money in the month.  Routinely examine how your cash flow looks every week so you can correct course before panic sets in.

When your money runs out before your month, don’t despair – it happens to the best of us.  Try to catch it as early as you can and improvise with some of the above strategies to make it to the end of the month.  Follow up with the second set of the strategies above to prevent a repeat performance.  You’ve got this!

In what ways do you improvise when there is more month than money?  Share your thoughts below.  Or if you want some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your stories!

*This article by Dawn Starks was originally published in WNC Woman Magazine.


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