10 tips to get you through the week before payday
Tight for cash as the month ends? Don't panic, we can help.
In the week before payday, the struggle is real. Everyone knows that sinking feeling when your bank account is low, often accompanied by self-deprecating thoughts like "Why did I buy that round of shots at the bar? I don't even like my friends". You know the drill.
But that doesn't mean you have to live on instant noodles until your salary arrives. Here are 10 ways to stretch your dollars further.
1. Ditch public transport and work it out
If you are able to walk or cycle to work, why not give it a try? Not only will you save on public transport fares or parking fees, you'll also benefit from the exercise.
So not only is this better for your finances, it's better for your health and the environment. Reduce the dent in your wallet, your waistline, your blood pressure and your carbon footprint in one fell swoop. Who said the week before payday couldn't have benefits?
You can even go one better tip and pause your gym membership – you're getting your workout in, after all. Many gyms allow you to pay a $5-$8 fee and press pause on your membership for a fortnight. This can save you money without sacrificing your fitness goals.
If walking or cycling aren't realistic options for you, work from home if that's an option. That saves on commuting costs and means you're not tempted to spend money elsewhere.
2. Marie Kon Do It, and you can too
Japanese author Marie Kondo is famous for the KonMari method, which recommends that only belongings that "spark joy" should be kept. Drawing on Shinto religious principles, Kondo urges people to "[treat] the objects you own as disposable, but valuable, no matter their actual monetary worth".
With that acknowledged, a Kondo-inspired clearout where you sell off unneeded clothes, books or other items can help bridge the gap until payday. Check out Finder's full guide to the best places to sell your unwanted stuff online.
3. Don't run on empty, empty your pockets
You can implement while you're KonMari-ing your belongings. Check and empty all of your pockets, your bags and your furniture. Did past you leave any gifts for your broke future self? Gather any coins and notes (if you're lucky) that you find. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Holiday money can also be useful here. Grab those leftover euros, pounds, yen, baht, ringgit and rupiah and exchange them. (Just make sure the amounts are big enough to justify any exchange fees.)
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4. Hunt down supermarket bargains
Supermarket rewards schemes flybuys and Woolworths Rewards both let you convert your points into $10 off vouchers. Straight chat: we don't normally recommend doing this, since you can get more value from the points by putting them into a frequent flyer scheme. But if getting that $10 off means you can actually afford a few meals, then who are we to argue?
5. Bulk up
However you source your groceries, meal prepping in bulk can help you save. Preparing a big batch of your evening meal will ensure that you have enough for lunch the next day – even a few days. You can also freeze batches for later in the week.
If you really can't afford a food shop, you can often still cobble something together from what's in the cupboards. This is where the low-cost dried foods that you usually ignore like lentils, beans, rice and pasta can become the stars of the show. That's a healthier choice than subsisting on Vegemite sandwiches and ramen alone (though that's also an option).
And if you don't have a stash of dried food in the cupboards, stock up when you do get paid. Future you will be forever grateful.
With all this money-saving activity going on, it's time to hydrate.
Tap water is your new best friend. Stop spending money on expensive take-out coffees, soft drinks, booze and fruit juice. If anyone asks about your water addiction, say you're doing a cleanse.
If you need your caffeine fix, try making your coffee at home before you head to work or drinking the free office brew. The average price of a coffee is over $4 – the same price as a kilo of dried lentils. Or in other words, about 10-15 potential meals.
7. Meet the parents
Your parents, that is. If you're lucky enough to have parents who live nearby, invite yourself round for dinner. You can skip the lecture by insisting that it's just been a while and you'd like to spend some time with them. You'll save on food, and you just might make their day. Plus, if they offer you the leftovers to take home, congratulations – you just bagged two meals for the price of none.
8. Invite the team over
Whether your friends are facing the same week-before-payday struggle or not, invite them over to your place for a games night instead of hitting the town. Ask them to bring a bottle; you can provide the snacks, games or banter. Drinks from the bottle-o are way cheaper than going out, where you can easily pay $10 or more for a single drink and then spend an unpredictable amount on the Uber ride home.
Staying in has other perks besides saving cash: you control the music, you can hear each other easily and there's no waiting around for your drinks.
9. Be 'appy
Some expenses are just unavoidable, even if you follow those tips. That's when you can take advantage interest-free credit. Apps such as bundll allow you to shop for almost anything and pay it back two weeks later, interest-free. You can essentially use bundll like a debit card, but on your phone. It works anywhere that accepts Mastercard and the app also tracks weekly spending. So, you can pay for your necessities and repay the money after payday, with no extra costs attached.
10. Avoid expensive shortcuts
Our final tip for getting you through the week before payday is to avoid payday loans where possible. Payday loans, while specifically designed to tide you over until payday, are a costly finance option. They can also trap you in a spiral of debt if you're not careful.
Payday loans normally charge an establishment fee of 20% and monthly fees of 4%, so even a small short-term loan can set you back quite a hefty sum. So avoid if at all possible.
If you are struggling with your personal finances, consider speaking to a professional financial counsellor by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
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