How to Manage on a ‘Strapped’ Budget — with Your Landlord’s Help
If you’re reading this, You’re half-way there.
We’ve all been there — when ‘two paychecks away from living out on the street’ turns into ‘unemployed and praying for a stay of eviction.’ Fortunately, there are tools that you have at your disposal right now that can help — but it all starts with a high-power lesson in ‘managing no money’.
The ‘Strapped’ Budget A ‘strapped’ budget includes exactly what you absolutely need, and nothing else.
- Clothing, if and only if you literally need it to go shopping and/or interview for a job.
- Internet, if you work in an industry that requires the use of the internet. Otherwise use the internet for free at a local library.
- Debt payments.
It does NOT include:
- Entertainment of any kind.
- Dining out.
- Ready made meals.
- Personal care beyond what is necessary to appear at a job interview.
Tracking What You Spend
To make sure you follow the outline above on where to spend your money, start tracking every dollar you spend on a daily basis. Don’t wait to do it once a week as you won’t remember everything. Do it every night or every morning. Once you do so and review a week or two of what you’re spending your limited funds on, you’ll probably be amazed at how much your wasting on unnecessary things. Then you can even buckle down more!
Creating Your Own Opportunities
Once you’ve separated yourself from the notion of employment for money — however temporarily — you’ll find that there are plenty of opportunities for reducing your expenses in other ways. For example, you may turn to your landlord and ask them if there’s any way you could spend your time helping out in order to reduce the rent load. Not every landlord will be amenable, but a surprising number can come up with something, especially if you’re willing to drive a little bit. If you’ve been a really good tenant you can sometimes even convince a landlord to give you a month off of rent in exchange for an agreement to extend your lease — after all, it costs them money to replace you if you have to leave.
Seeking Free Alternatives
Looking at this, you might think ‘this is going to suck’ — but it doesn’t have to. There are actually plenty of free things to do in almost every city in the US, from delving into the shelves of your local library to attending free concerts in a city park. Similarly, most cities have a food bank that can make up at least a part of your weekly needs — along with a SNAP card, you can ensure you don’t have to spend any of whatever you have left on comestibles. Call your state Department of Human Services office for advice on where you can find free assistance to help you until you get back on your feet.
When Something Goes South..er
There are always emergencies and disasters, even when you’re currently experiencing an emergency or disaster. If you would qualify for the Federal ‘Temporary Assistance for Needy Families’ program, you can appeal to them for a one-time lump sum that can get you through the dark-before-the-dawn — just not if you’re actively taking TANF money at the time.
The skill you’ll need most when things get strapped is creativity. Getting stuck in a rut, trying to do what you’re used to, is going to fail you. Account for every penny coming in and going, and apply yourself to finding or creating opportunities, and you can get through it with your head held high.