Avoid Needing Emergency Cash – Top 10 Budget Tips!

No more delving down the back of the sofa for emergency cash…

The words of the 1985 Simply Red hit “Money’s Too Tight to Mention” are seemingly as true than today as when they were written. The song – originally written and performed by The Valentine Brothers in 1982 – bemoans the fact that money is always tight and that it often seems there is nowhere to go for emergency cash: not family nor friends nor the government.

For many of us today that is just how life is. Money is always tight and no-one is able to help. It can become wearing always having to count the pennies, but one thing we can really do to help ourselves is to make sure that we are not paying more money than we need for the essentials of life. If we can make small savings every day we are then less likely to run into a situation where we get stuck and need emergency cash.

Try the following Top Ten Budget Tips to help you save money and get more in control of your finances:

    1. First of all make a realistic budget of all your financial commitments for each month. List all household expenses including rent or mortgage and all your bills. Review this budget month by month to make sure it is accurate and that you know where your money is really going. Go through each financial commitment one by one. Is it something that you really need? Be ruthless – if it’s not essential then it stops! It is important to keep doing this regularly as your needs will change year by year and it is easy to overlook the fact that you are still paying for something you no longer need.
    2. For those bills that are essential be prepared to shop around to get a better deal. It is relatively easy to switch energy companies, insurance providers or phone networks and this could save you a lot of money. If you have a good credit rating you may also qualify for an interest free credit card balance transfer which could make a significant difference to your monthly repayments and help you to pay the balance off quicker.
    3. Only use cash for day to day expenditure. Whatever the amount of your weekly budget, take it out in cash and then you can see how much you have left as you go through the week. This is much more effective than making payments on a card when it is easy to lose track and overspend. It will also help you be more disciplined about what you spend money on. For example, you will be able to see how an impulse buy might impact on your food budget for the rest of the week and put you in the tricky situation of trying to find emergency cash.
    4. If possible don’t do a big weekly food shop. Most of us buy too much and then end up throwing things away. We can get lured by special offers and buy things that we don’t need. It would be better to shop for food every day or two just for things that you need. This also helps you to buy things that go with what you already have in the fridge instead of wasting it.
    5. Time your food shopping carefully: most stores have a time of day when they reduce food that is nearing its sell by date. This does vary from store to store – and you will need to be open-minded about what you get – but it can save you pounds.
    6. Be prepared to be flexible about the brands you use. Most stores and supermarkets have their own brand versions of products which are often just as good – if not better – than the more expensive brands that you normally use. Give them a try – you’ve nothing to lose and a lot to gain!
    7. Be on the lookout for vouchers and special offers that can save you money on food or household goods or entertainment. Again, be discerning so you don’t end up just buying things because they are on offer if you wouldn’t buy them anyway! But there are so many voucher websites these days and special offers in newspapers and magazines that you may well be able to get things cheaper if you have a look through these before you go shopping.
    8. Get into recycling and upcycling! As a society we have fallen into the trap of thinking we have to have everything from new. But there are so many ways of obtaining items that are now brand new but as good as new. If you need something then why not look on sites such as eBay or Gumtree to see if anyone has one for sale. Or you could obtain an item than you can then use to make the item you want. For example clothes can be made by adapting other garments, or items of furniture repainted or given the shabby chic treatment. Be prepared to be creative about where you get things from and how you adapt them and you will not only save pounds but may well discover a whole new set of skills and talents!
    9. If you have an active social life this can turn out to be really expensive. Sometimes it pays to make staying in the new going out! If you have a group of like minded friends this can be just as much fun and a fraction of the cost. You could take turns to host a curry night or drinks party or games or film evening. You will save money and have a great time!
    10. Why not start a Rewards Club with friends to help each other save money. Make it into a competitive and fun challenge – maybe even award prizes to whoever earns the most points! You can make up your own rules but it could include earning points trading favours. So if you are brilliant at DIY, for example, you could fix someone’s dodgy door handle and earn 10 points, which you can then pass to someone else when they cut your hair. You could all save on expenses and have a bit of fun in the process! With no-one ending up in an emergency cash situation!

Good luck with your budgeting! It can be both daunting and difficult at first, and will take time and perseverance to get into new ways of doing things. But it will be worth it in the end! Maybe just maybe it will be the beginning of a new phase of life where money is NOT “Too Tight to Mention” any more!

*All figures and rates correct at time of writing