A recent Household Pulse survey suggested that around 38% of Americans had trouble paying for at least one bill in the April or May period this year, which is nearly a 5% rise in figures from the previous year.
A few factors have contributed to the rising costs of living to create a cost-living crisis in many countries. Still, in the US, economic instability in different parts of the world, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the pandemic have increasingly squeezed household finances to put increasing pressure on billpayers across the country.
Add to this the fact the rate of inflation is exceeding wage growth, and it’s not hard to see why people are struggling. More and more people are looking for alternative ways to boost their income and reduce their outgoings to help them survive, not even splash out on luxuries.
If this sounds familiar, this post looks at some areas where you can save money or boost your income.
These days, there is insurance for pretty much everything. Car insurance, health insurance, homeowners insurance, and so on. If you have any insurance premiums, you should be shopping around offers for cheaper deals over renewal time. While staying with your current provider is easier, if your premiums are going up each year, you can save money by getting a few quotes and changing over as soon as possible.
Let’s look at private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance is a must for those who put down less than 20% for a downpayment, and while you will do well to keep this, it’s essential to know that the average price is around 0.58 to 1.68% of the value of your home for this is if you can get your quote down this will serve you well. Alternatively, if you are really struggling, most lenders will allow you to drop this requirement if your mortgage falls below 80% of the home value.
Everyone watches streaming services of some sort, and if you’ve fallen victim to the Netflix cull of people sharing passwords, this is likely another expense you have to foot now. And streaming services don’t come cheap, nor are they equal. But there is one good thing about them. You aren’t tied into any contract, and you can cancel at any time.
For your TV streaming, e.g., Netflix, Hulu, or Apple TV, it is worth swapping and changing from month to month to allow you to keep up to date with new TVs and releases. If you can only have one or two each month, pick the two you want to have, watch everything you can in the month, then cancel ahead of time, pause your subscription, and instant a different one. A bit tricky and complicated to keep on top of, but it still allows you to have all of your services, just not at the same time.
For music subscription services, it might be worth taking the bullet and listening to the ads for a cheaper or free option for those months when things are tight. It isn’t forever, but it is definitely a good compromise.
If you really enjoy a service or product you have, why not look into their affiliate or referral code schemes? These often give you a discount or bonus upon sharing your code and getting people to sign up via it. You can share via your social media channels, in person to friends and family via message, or even on your blog if you run one. This way, you benefit from someone else making a purchase or taking up a service with a company you already use. These options will all differ, but you can benefit from hefty savings for some or receive some fantastic added benefits.
If you are looking at changing providers for anything, always look to see if there are any added incentives to make the deal sweeter. For example, new customers can often receive extra gifts as a welcome or thank you for signing up after a short period. This can be from a tv streaming service, your food delivery subscription, or even creating an Amazon affiliate link, meaning you get money from other people buying via your Amazon link.
The backbone of American working culture is the side hustle. If you don’t have a side hustle, then you are probably in the minority. It’s thought at least one in three Americans have a side hustle, and with incomes being squeezed, it is likely this number will increase.
Side hustles can be pretty much anything from taking on another job around your current employment of things like creating a home-based business, selling arts and crafts, baking goods, and your skills on the side. Using what you already know and what you can do is a great way to earn a living, as you can charge other people for your items or skill set.
Some popular side hustle options for people include;
- Affiliate Links
- Content creation
- Home baked goods
- Knitted craft items
- Buying self-service businesses, e.g. car washes and laundrette
- Social media marketing
- Teaching online/tutoring
Improve Home Energy Efficiency
While US homes have become more energy efficient, they are still considered energy vampires, consuming massive amounts of energy to keep them going. If this feels familiar, it is worth looking into reducing your energy bills and making your home more energy efficient. Options can range from minor, inexpensive fixes to massive home renovations that will save you money in the long run.
Easy fixes can include changing from standard light bulbs to energy-saving ones, adding draft excluders to windows and doors that aren’t properly sealed, and adding rugs to wooden flooring to help stop so much heat from escaping. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best energy prices in your local area unless you are restricted to one supplier; this can open up more significant savings and more competitive pricing. Be aware that electricity prices are set to drop in the coming months, so pay attention to your charges and ensure that when this happens, your supplier passes on the savings.
If you are really struggling, it might be worth moving to downsize your mortgage or rental payments. It’s not always an easy or even a preferred option, but if you are feeling the squeeze and struggling to make the payments each month, this could be your best option to help you balance your income and give yourself some breathing space. Always talk to your lender or landlord if you are experiencing difficulties, as they may be able to assist you either in offering more time to time to pay missed installments or finding a smaller place if your landlord has other properties.
While couponing isn’t what you see on TV, and many retailers and brands have imposed limits on their coupons now, you can still score some amazing deals by using your coupons carefully. Many coupons are digital these days, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as effective. You just need to be more savvy in using them to get the right discounts.
It can be worth joining couponing groups on social media or heading to TikTok to help you find creators who are using coupons and sharing tips to help you save more money. It is definitely a learning curve but something worth trying if you struggle to make ends meet.
Sadly, there seems to be no end in sight for the squeeze on income, and things may even feel like they are getting worse before they get better. However, there are some small things you can do to help you reduce your bills, boost your income and try to keep your head above water as much as possible.