As a personal finance blogger, I like to ask my readers what their biggest financial problems are so that I can provide useful content to them.

When I ask all of you what your biggest financial challenges are, the most common answer is this: too many bills and not enough income.

So, what should you do if you you’re drowning in bills and don’t make enough money?

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This is a difficult problem to tackle, but the way I see it, you have one of three options in this situation:

  1. Reduce your bills.
  2. Make more money.
  3. Reduce your bills AND make more money.

Reduce Your Bills

I would personally start with lowering your bills because this is easier to control than your income (in my opinion).  If you work in a low-paying field, you may not have a lot of options for increasing your income.

So, how do you reduce your bills?

Take a hard look at your monthly budget.  Where are you overspending?  Make cuts wherever you can, but keep in mind that making cuts in more expensive areas will have a larger impact.

In other words, lowering your cell phone bill by $10/month won’t make a huge difference, but finding a way to reduce your rent payment by $400/month will.

Here are a few ways to decrease your expenses significantly:

  • Find a cheaper apartment.
  • Get a roommate (or two).
  • Move to a less expensive area.
  • Rent out a spare room of your home.
  • Rent a room of someone’s home.
  • Downsize to a smaller home.
  • Downgrade to a less expensive car.
  • Take the bus, walk, or bike whenever you can.
  • Refinance your student loans.

While it won’t have a huge impact, decreasing smaller expenses will help a little.  You could try negotiating with your cable provider to get a lower rate or cutting out cable altogether.  Also, you could find ways to lower your utility bills by decreasing the amount of energy you use.

Consider getting rid of the landline you never use, your overpriced gym membership (if you don’t use it), and any other unnecessary bills.

Make More Money

Maybe you’ve already tried everything you can to reduce your expenses.  Perhaps you’re on a bare bones budget and you live in a dirt cheap studio apartment.

If this is you, you have an income problem and it’s time to start thinking about ways to make more money.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask for a raise.
  • Find a better job.
  • Work overtime if you can.
  • Get a second (or third) job.
  • Find a side hustle (blogging is my favorite side hustle!).
  • Start your own business.

If you don’t have the time to get another job or start side hustling, look into easy ways to make a little extra cash on the side.

Sell old items to thrift stores or online on Ebay or Craigslist.  Sell plasma.  Have a garage sale.  Use apps to earn cash back on groceries.

These days, there are tons of ways to make a little cash quickly!

Reduce Your Bills AND Make More Money

If you’re really in a tough spot financially, the most effective way to improve your situation is to lower your expenses AND increase your income.  This double whammy will help your finances much more than simply cutting out bills or making more money would.

The problem with being frugal OR increasing income is this: both of these options have limits.  Frugality can only go so far.  At a certain point, it’s impossible to save more.

Likewise, earning more money has a limited impact on your finances because it makes you make vulnerable to lifestyle inflation.  If you keep making more money, but you also keep increasing your spending as you earn more, making more won’t help.

This is why I believe it’s best to focus on both approaches.  Make more money, but continue reducing your bills even as you earn more.

As personal finance expert Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now so later you can live like no one else.”

 

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