There are times when your paycheck may not seem like enough. From food to gas to rent – you may wonder how you’ll pay for everything. Even when times are tough, there are things you can do to make ends meet. Let’s look at how to make your paycheck stretch.
Create a Meal Plan
It’s so important to create a meal plan when times are tough. The first step is to look through your cabinets and fridge to see what you have on hand. Next, sit down and plan meals that use up those ingredients. If you need to purchase more ingredients to make other meals, make sure to plan meals that use up all the ingredients.
When you're planning your meals try to include foods that are on sale, choose meals with similar ingredients (so you can use them all up), and use meal stretching ingredients (like rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) that are less expensive but still filling.
Groceries are one of the biggest expenses a household has. Yet, we waste tons of food each year. Instead of tossing out last night’s leftovers, eat them for lunch. Packing up your leftovers to eat at work the next day not only means you’re not wasting food, but it also means that you don’t have to buy food at work.
My oldest son and my husband love to eat leftovers for lunch the next day, so it's a win-win for our grocery budget. The leftovers get used up with no food waste, and I save money and time on packing their lunches.
Gas isn’t cheap. Whether it’s sending your kids to school or getting to work, carpooling can save you a lot of money. Imagine splitting the cost of gas amongst your coworkers or other parents? Everyone involved will be happier. You can also take turns driving so that it’s not left to one person to be the driver and pay for all the car maintenance.
Besides finding options to carpool (which not only save gas but time, too), we try to plan our trips to use the least amount of gas possible. If I have to make a trip to our boys' school shortly before the end of the day, I just stay out in that part of town rather than driving all the way home just to be there for half an hour before I turn around and head back to pick them up from school.
Find Free Ways to Stay Entertained
There are so many free ways to stay entertained. You can watch YouTube instead of paying for cable. There are many streaming apps that are completely free to use. You can download thousands of free books from Amazon and use the Kindle app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You can also visit the library, go for a hike, or play board games. There’s probably a lot of stuff around your home that you’re not using that can be entertaining.
Use a Deal as Often as Possible
Anytime you’re about to spend money, look for a deal (or find an online coupon code). Before buying something at the store, look to see which brand is cheapest (and compare unit price). Clip coupons. Use apps to see which gas station has the cheapest gas in town. There are so many ways to save money.
There are so many ways to stretch your paycheck. Whether you eat leftovers to save money or carpool, you can make your money go further.