With some added expenses in the past two weeks our budget became a mess and our checking account got awfully low. I transferred a bit out of savings into checking but didn't want to dip into it too much as we will be needing to buy school supplies and tires for both vehicles in the coming months.
We often seem to fall short right around the time the mortgage is due or the high electric bill (our electric bill was close to $100 this month - which is high for us since we keep lights off as often as possible and try not to use the dryer in the summer months but this heat wave means the air conditioners have been used for almost three weeks straight). One thing I often try to do before dipping into savings is see where I can make a quick buck or two.
*We live in a state where our soda and beer cans can be redeemed for a 5 cent deposit. We save all of our cans and are not above picking up cans when out for a walk. We often get $15-$25 when taking a few big bags of cans in to be redeemed...that can put gas in a vehicle or help pay a bill.
*Ben took some scrap metal laying around the garage to the scrap yard and got $25 last week. Many people will pick metal items off the curb (washing machines, bikes, pipes, etc.), it's a way to turn junk into cold hard cash...and it reduces waste in the landfills.
*I had a $27 check from a consignment shop and a $40 BlogHer check to put into the bank. By selling our unwanted/no longer needed items and by writing my thoughts down on a public blog I am able to bring in a little extra income each month.
These little things truly do add up and by being mindful of extra ways to make money you can pay the electric bill or fill your tank with gas when your checkbook is a little low.
This is not to say that we were destitute and about to have our power shut off or weren't able to eat. We have a small savings account to draw off of when an unexpected expense comes along. But because I work hard to live within our income I am hesitant to tap into savings for our everyday living expenses because once you take $50 out here and $75 out there you begin to become dependant on that money in savings and start to live outside of your means...short on cash this week? Take $40 out of savings for groceries instead of cooking from the pantry to get by for the week. It's a slippery slope and often a reason that some people are unable to keep money in a savings account. We try to look at ways to bring in a little extra cash (or save cash...such as the pantry cooking that I'll discuss tomorrow) before going to our savings account. And it typically works!
So the next time an unexpected expense comes along, see if you can make a few dollars here or a few dollars there before dipping into savings. Did you just find out you needed a $150 car repair? Have a garage sale! Did your dog need $50 worth of medicine? Prepare your cheapest meals the next week to put half your grocery money towards the medicine. Did the gas prices just go up, making your commute each day unusually expensive? Start hanging your laundry out and saving close to $1 per load - that could be $5 or more a week you are saving. Little, unexpected, bills in our lives can often be offset without much work on your part.
What are some of your quick money tips or ways to offset an unexpected expense?