5 ways to hack your budget between jobs
Between jobs and struggling to make ends meet with regular lifestyle choices? Until a human resources manager calls with good news, he has some cuts to make, but he wants to do more than survive.
You want to prosper! Here are five ways to hack your budget between jobs and save money.
1. Cut the cord and keep the tube time
You may have already given up on your New Year’s resolutions, but you can cut other bills in your life. Start small. Cut the cable completely and keep the time of your tube intact.
Consider streaming TV shows from your smartphone to the big screen via Google Chrome, Roku, or a similar device if you’re the type that just needs background noise and loves old shows. Channels like HBO and NBC have apps available, but offer a much lower monthly rate. YouTube allows you to stream content for free, especially if you love cat videos and keeping up with your favorite vloggers.
You’ve heard of Netflix, which is great, but there are more options to choose from, including combining them to get the TV experience you want for less. You can still access live TV when you cut the cord, with streaming subscription services like:
Sling starts at $20 and goes up, depending on the package, and you can customize your package with add-ons for Spanish channels and sports.
Hulu starts at $ 40 a month for 55 channels that include several major networks like NBC, FOX, and CBS.
PlayStation Vue starter packs offer 45 channels with Access/Access Slim: $40/$30 per month with up to five streams allowed at a time.
2. Hack housing and living expenses
Ideally, never let your housing budget exceed 30 percent of your take-home pay, and for homeowners, that total also counts homeowners insurance and property taxes. Typical home repairs vary, but it’s wise to budget for them too, even for tenants, who may be liable for damages they contribute to or cause.
Most do not live in ideal circumstances. Half of your monthly take-home pay goes toward your mortgage or rent, especially between jobs. Try to live by the 50/20/30 rule, where you still have flexibility, but maintain a healthy budget for housing and living expenses:
Fixed costs should only consume 50 percent of income and are applied to fixed costs that stay the same on a monthly basis, like rent and internet.
Savings must represent 20 percent of your income.
Variable costs should only consume up to 30 percent of your income and include expenses such as food, entertainment and clothing.
Adjust these percentages based on your circumstances, with the goal of working toward the rule for a healthier financial balance.
In the meantime, where else can you trim or hack your spending? Invest in a French press over going to Starbucks every other day. Cut gym fees and use free weights and ride a bike or dance. Rent a room on Airbnb or find a roommate. If you have a skill to teach others, use it for a reasonable price.
3. Take transportation disparities by the wheel
Transportation costs make up a surprisingly large part of your monthly budget, especially if you own a car. The good news: this presents you with more savings opportunities.
When buying or trading in a car, do your research first. You probably considered down payment and closing costs, but there’s more. Do you drive about 15,000 miles a year? The average total cost of car ownership was $8,469 in 2017 for logging that mileage, and that doesn’t count the monthly car payment.
Each model is different, as are the additional costs of ownership. How much can your gas tank hold in the city or on one of your famous road trips? Don’t forget loan payments, regular maintenance, and emergency repair costs. You never know when you’ll need to replace your break line.
Shop for cheaper auto insurance: One study found an $850 a year disparity between the lowest rates and the average quote you receive. So, shop around for multiple quotes from auto insurance providers and agents, and don’t rule out the smaller providers—they have some of the best rates. Shop for discounts on your policy, like auto-integrated anti-theft, AAA, low mileage, and multi-car.
These little discount tricks add up, but you can always consider alternative forms of transportation, like taking the bus or cycling to work.
4. Get more than ramen
There is nothing wrong with making a living off of ramen. You can add fish and vegetables and bake it like a casserole. Ramen is versatile, but it needs a more balanced diet to maintain its health. Eat your choice of fruits, vegetables, meat and even bread on a budget based on the change you find around the house.
Use the power of Pinterest to plan meals, shop, and save. For example, Crockpot is if you don’t cook for cheap and healthy eating and get tips on what to do with leftover turkey slices, how to make various curries, and make tons of beans tastier.
Make versatile, large portions of slow cooker recipes like oven-roasted potatoes, bone broth, and pulled pork; store leftovers as meals in the freezer. In fact, you’ll know what went into your meal because you prepared it.
Clean out a cast-iron skillet from the thrift store and use it for various cooking methods: baking, frying, and more. Don’t be afraid to experiment with vegetarian and vegan meals, using protein-rich vegetables like cauliflower in your meals. Buy wraps and make enchiladas one night and a chicken salad wrap another day.
5. Force yourself to save
Horrible at saving? When you’re between jobs, it’s hard to help out: using emergency funds is almost a weekly or monthly thing, depending on your circumstances.
Save with the power of technology and improve your credit score in the process. Apps like Qapital and Digit have you set rules to save when you spend or automatically set aside money for various goals, even providing you with a separate spending card for your goals. Every time you go to Starbucks, give yourself a tip and set aside money to cover your debts.
Also worth checking out are secured credit cards and credit-building loans, which can require a deposit of funds to act as a spending limit on a card or deduct a monthly amount to save for you. These services typically report to the major credit bureaus to improve your credit score, but don’t go this route unless your budget allows.
These simple changes will save you money between jobs, which doesn’t mean you have to carry a basic stock. Your health and happiness are important, it’s just about finding what works for you.