When hard times hit, especially when they are widespread, it’s not hard to see how it impacts people’s personal financial health. Companies lose money, businesses shut down, and workers either face furloughs or outright job loss.

Living in situations like this can be extremely difficult. Everything in the world seems uncertain.

Making ends meet with a limited budget is a skill that nearly everyone needs to sharpen. The hard times brought about by economic slowdown or personal job loss may be outside your control, but there are things you can do to keep your finances on solid ground even when times are tight.

Create a budget and stick to it

Having a budget is more important than ever during the hard times. It may seem overwhelming to be working with a limited amount of money but when you look for little ways to fit your expenses within your budget, you may see that it’s more possible than you probably thought.

When creating a budget, determine how much money you have on hand; not money that is promised but yet to arrive. It’s good to have an idea of what money may be coming in but you have no control over when, or even if, that money will show up. Work with how much you currently have.

Then make a list of your expenses. Write them all down, no matter how small. That will give you a point to start from.

Next, prioritize the important ones. The ones you need to survive.

Come up with the total amount and compare it with how much money you have. If your expenses exceed your money, then you have to figure out where to trim down.

Trim spending

Having control of your finances can better help you achieve peace of mind. This can only be done if you’re mindful of your spending.

Instead of leaving room in your budget for things that aren’t strictly necessary, focus on just the basics. Prioritize your basic needs to survive such as food, water, shelter, and utilities. If you’ve been used to having food delivered, switch to home-cooked meals. Anything you can do to trim your expenses can mean a lot.

Manage your savings

Being caught in the middle of the hard times does not mean that you shouldn’t be taking care of your savings. It’s still important that you put in money to your savings account whenever possible. If you have a little money left after your expenses, set that money aside and deposit it in your savings account. Having some savings tucked away can save you if the tough times last longer than anticipated.

Be smart when stocking up supplies

Buying larger package sizes of the things you use most, generally means your per-unit cost will be lower. For example, the cost-per-pound or cost-per-100 of something is almost always less when you buy larger sizes.

There are a few tricks to make this a sensible strategy.

First, of course never buy more than you will actually use in a reasonable period of time. Don’t buy more of something just because it’s cheaper if you’re not actually going to use the extra.

Second, prioritize foods that will spoil before you eat them. That means things such as canned goods, pasta, oatmeal and so on. When it comes to fresh foods, go with ones that can be preserved longer when stored in the fridge. And use those first!

Don’t forget to stock up on medications, too, especially the ones that you can buy over the counter. And if you’re regularly taking prescription medication, give your doctor a heads up so you can have extra supply covered.

Find a side hustle

Whether or not you’re able to keep your regular job, looking for ways to earn some money on the side can help you stay on top of your finances during the hard times. Your earnings from a side hustle can also help cover some bills and debts or they can be tucked away for emergencies. 

There are plenty of side hustles you can explore that won’t affect your schedule if you have a full time job. You can do freelance jobs online, or sell stuff on eBay. Make the most of your extra time to make some money. No matter how small, these earnings can go a long way.

With the help of these tips, you can be in better control of your finances and sleep with peace at night even in the midst of the hard times.

There’s no better way to start growing your savings than now. Learn more about building your savings by contacting Calcite Credit Union.