About to Lose Income? Tips to Weather the Storm
- Written by Remar Sutton
- Category: Articles
Have you ever considered how a loss of income will impact your finances? It's not something that many people want to think about, but
it’s better to be prepared for the possibility than not. Whether you already put a plan in place and have made savings a priority, or need help getting started, you may find useful tips below to help you save more.
Building up your savings will help you weather the storm if the unthinkable should happen and you have a loss of income.
Before getting started, start by answering these three questions:
Do you know where your money is going every month?
Do you have a budget?
Do you have an emergency fund or savings that will cover at least 3 months of your normal expenses?
Now that you answered these important questions, begin to create or fine tune your budget below.
Creating or Fine Tuning Your Workable Budget
A budget will help you manage your finances so that you can save money to meet short and long-term goals. Those goals might include a car, house, vacation, college, or retirement.
To make a workable budget, start by writing down all of your expenses for a whole month. You should account for every penny you spend because small purchases add up. By tracking your expenses over that period of time, you can see where you money goes.
When listing out your monthly expenses, be sure to include:
- Housing – rent or mortgage
- Utilities – electricity, gas, water
- Car – loan payment, insurance, maintenance, gas
- Debt reduction – credit cards, student loans, other loans
- Transportation – parking fees, bus fares, train fares, ride share
- Entertainment – cable, streaming services, apps, songs, books, movies
This worksheet from consumer.gov can help you.
A Smart Budget
A smart budget includes a savings component. A good goal is to save at least 10% of your income. Remember that list of expenses you wrote down, use it to see where you can find savings.
13 Top Areas Where You Could Be Saving
Have a gym membership you don't use? Cancel it and put the money in your savings account instead.
Cancel subscriptions such as magazines, newspapers, online accounts that you don't read or use.
Review Your Entertainment Choices
For example, do you still need a cable subscription or will one or more streaming services meet your needs for less money? Do you need the premium version of music channels or is the free version just fine?
Prepare Your Meals at Home
Prepare most of your meals at home instead of eating out. Take your lunch to work most days. A bonus is that you can make healthier meals at home and save money, too.
Stay Mindful of Your Small Purchases
Small purchases can add up. Set up a budget for apps, songs, books, movies, and similar items and stick to it.
Buy Store Brands
Consider buying store brands instead of name brands whether groceries or clothing. Save money without giving up quality.
Expensive doesn't always mean better. Always compare products to determine what best meets your needs and your budget.
Review Your Tax Refund
Instead of giving the government a loan, adjust your withholding so that you can put more money in your savings account.
Set up a monthly transfer from your checking to savings or have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings account.
Do an Energy Audit
Having an energy audit performed can help determine the energy hogs in your home and what you can do to reduce your bill. Many utility companies will do this for free.
Choose the Cheaper Movie
Find movie bargains, such as during a specific time of day or theater.
Skip the Plastic Bottles
Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying individual bottles. Use a filter system, such as a pitcher, bottle, or faucet for refills.
Buy in Bulk
If storage is available, buying in bulk can offer big savings. A great product to buy in bulk is paper products. However, it’s important to note bulk is not always the best option for products that have expiration or use by dates and that you won't use up quickly.
For more tips, check out 54 Ways to Save Money from America Saves.
Budget Too Tight?
What if your budget is too tight to save much and the tips above haven't helped? Then you may benefit from talking with a financial or credit counselor. A counselor can help you create a budget and make a plan to pay down your debt so that you can start saving. These tips from the FTC can help you choose a credit counselor.
Building up your savings will help you weather the storm if the unthinkable happens or you have a loss of income.