October 17, 2011

Scrambling To Get By

There’s nothing like a recession to teach you resilience. Who knew you could cook an egg so many ways, much less raise your own chickens in the city? For better or worse, this economy is forcing people to reach deep in order to make ends meet.

When it comes to balancing one’s budget, there are only two arrows in the quiver – you can spend less or make more. This is true whether you’re a poor college student or high-level executive. Of course, there is one more “false” arrow, and that’s credit. With a high-limit credit card, it can seem as if you’ve found a third way to balance the budget. But that arrow has a tendency to come back to earth pretty quickly, and it’s painful when it does.

Luckily the first two options provide a lot of leeway, even in today’s tough circumstances. For example, if you’d like to reduce your expenditures, you may already know that housing is usually the largest expense in a personal budget. To lower that cost, you can add roommates, find cheaper digs, work as a caretaker or nanny where housing is provided, or even couch surf for a window of time.

Transportation is another high-cost item for most people, and a similar array of options exist: For example, you can trade your car for something cheaper to operate, share a vehicle with others, use your bike or public transportation, or get a job where a car is provided.

When it comes to earning more, you also have a lot of options. Even though well-paying, full-time jobs seem to be elusive for many right now, there’s no shortage of part-time gigs. To make the most of multiple jobs, consider “stacking” your work where possible. For example, if you make some money writing for blogs, you might consider part-time security guard jobs at places that let you work on projects while staffing the night shift. By combining the two positions, you can double up on your income for the same hours.

Other options for earning more include: low-overhead side businesses such as e-Bay sales or house cleaning; additional hours at the jobs you already have; participation in focus groups that pay for your opinion; and selling plasma.

However you have to do it, remember that scrambling to get by is a time-honored exercise – and it’s certainly better than the alternative of not getting by.

Sign up for our newsletter!