I've never hid this during my time blogging. You're not going to see me showing you massive clothes haul or leaving reviews of fancy restaurants or taking trips to five star resorts. I guess I don't really live up to the #goals life. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be doing those things but I guess my #goals look a little different.
I have been so skint we needed help just to have food in the house, I've missed work because I didn't have the petrol money to get there but we've also had money saved to be able to take little holidays and to get new clothes or eat out. Basically what I'm saying is we are not rich but we make the most of what we have and try to enjoy life to the best we can!
That being said I have some top tips from those struggling times and I thought I would share them on the off chance it could help someone else too!
Credit cards are helpful used right they can boost your credit score and just generally help you get through to the next payday. But they are also hard to clear. Once you get stuck in that rut of I spent £150 on the card so I use £150 to pay it off but then I'm £150 short before the next pay day, so I use £150 on the card to get there. It is a circle of stress and credit. My advice is the moment that you find your self in that situation, split the amount you have to pay in half or in quarters, stop using the card at all costs and just pay the two halves over two months or four quarters over four months.
Find surplus stores, these are stores which sell perfectly fine food in date but were surplus items from larger chain or groceries stores in the area. Because of this the discounts are insane and you are able to fill the freezer or fridge for a fraction of the price you normally would. The particular shop we use is called The Company Shop, if you're from the UK and want to see if there is a Company Shop near you check out this link: https://www.companyshopgroup.co.uk/
Be Honest with Suppliers
This is something which might feel like you're going against your better judgement but trust me. If you call your energy suppliers or your creditors and say look I am struggling what can you do to help, they will help. Suppliers would rather have someone paying their bills at a lesser rate then be chasing them for past payments and contracting outside debt collectors to take over. This also applies for banks, your bank can and will reconsolidate all your debt into one payment without having to go through an outside agency. They will work out with you exactly how much you owe to everyone, give you the money to be able to pay all those individual bills and you then just pay one payment to your bank every month. If you already have a reconsolidation loan banks can also reconsolidate a reconsolidation loan! Yes you heard that right, again, they'd rather lower the amount a month you pay for longer amount of time then you go into debt.
Take Advantage of Available Help
It is there for a reason, don't be ashamed. Check to see if you're entitled to government help to top up your wages. Look for help with housing. Check charities for available grants you can apply for. It's likely, like me, you've paid into the system for sometime, you deserve help when you need it so don't be ashamed. Plus lets be honest, who would know unless you told them.
Eat at Home
As easy as it might seem to just pick something up for £5 while you're out to eat, but once you do that every day, maybe for two meals a day, it adds up pretty quick. Food shop smart and cut corners. Those tinned carrots might not be as healthy as fresh peeled carrots but they'll last longer and are still better for you with a meal then those quick fries you're going to pick up. The freezer is also your best friend, you can freeze meals you've already made, meals you have left over, meats and sides. It lasts so long and its just so much easier.
Yes it is crazy annoying when you sign up to things and you get a million emails. But create yourself an email address just for signing up to things and you can ignore that junk mail. Collect as many point cards from as many places as possible. This is what I do and those free drinks, free meals, money off all adds up and does make a difference. Plus a lot of the time when you first sign up to places you get an introductory voucher for a % off, that's already saving you money! Plus with this extra email account, lets say you're wanting to buy something just type it in the email search engine and quickly find whether you've been send a discount for the item. I recently did this when my car was due an MOT and found out I had a voucher for a half price MOT just sitting in my inbox waiting to be used.
Learn to Budget
This isn't just a general, budget better people. This is finding the right budget for you. Whether that is looking at your ingoing and outgoing and then working out how much per week you can spend. Or working out how much you spend in bills and deduct that from your income and divide by the amount of days in the month, then you have the amount of money per day you can spend. There are also a few very good apps out there which can do all the budgeting for you, you just add in every time you spend money. My favourite is Daily Budget Original, the free version has everything you would ever need. But if you want a deeper analysis of your spending you can pay for extras. If you would like to use this app check out: https://www.dailybudget.de/
Finally, Enjoy Life
It can be really hard when you're struggling with money to keep positive or see a way which you can enjoy what you have. But keep your spirits up and keep doing things. You don't have to spend money, spending time with friends or going to free events help keep things positive. Even free things like going to a new park with the dogs or spending a morning on the beach can really help. After all life is for living.
I hope these tips have been helpful and if you have any times to add let me know in the comments. The more we share the more we can help people.