2023 has arrived and many of us are still on the road of financial challenges on low income.
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
Not me. I fall into the group who doesn’t keep them! Yeah, that’s probably over 90% of us.
What are typical New Year’s goals? Losing weight, exercising, and cutting out bad habits are common resolutions for people looking for a healthier lifestyle.
If you have weight loss goals, check out my post on a year to a healthier lifestyle for tips on how you can save money on fitness. Generally, it means ditching the gym membership and following exercise videos on YouTube for free. Riding your bike and walking don’t cost money either.
Here are 10 easy tips to stay healthy on a budget.
A couple of weeks ago I heard on the news that most people making 2023 New Year Resolutions have chosen health and wealth. Sounds good to me!
FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR
Actually, let’s not call them financial resolutions. Let’s call them challenges. Many of us face nothing but financial challenges. We’re aiming to make our lives easier when it comes to finances.
When you’re single, older on a fixed income, or a low-income earner, it’s so hard to make – and keep – financial goals. Our main goal is just trying to survive. Hoping there’s enough money in the bank account for the rent, groceries, and the electric bill.
Consumer debt is on the rise as people struggle to pay their bills. That’s because we need to use credit cards just for basics. It’s easier to pay with a credit card now, but it’s harder to figure out how to pay the bill when there’s no money in the bank on the due date.
Covid and now inflation is hitting us hard in the wallets. Especially those of us who didn’t have much in our wallets to begin with.
Here’s a story recently on the news in British Columbia about debt anxiety:
British Columbians’ debt anxiety mounting amid inflation, interest rate hikes.
- 3 in 5 British Columbians are worried they won’t be able to pay their debts due to rising interest rates.
- 2 in 5 British Columbians are $200 or less away from insolvency.
- 15% are using credit cards to pay bills.
- Over a third of the respondents said they have between $25,000 and $50,000 in debt.
- The majority say credit card debt is the main source of financial problems.
- Over a quarter say their debt is due to financial mismanagement.
- 20% are using credit cards just to cover basic living expenses.
- 10% are using credit due to health or injuries.
- 8% are using credit due to relationship breakdowns.
- Most don’t have emergency funds.
- Many spend over 50% of their income on housing.
And here’s the reality kicker. Are the residents of British Columbia all that much different from the rest of the people in Canada and the United States? Financial challenges are everywhere, but us low income earners are in the most dire straits. We don’t have what it takes to find a higher paying job. Our income is staying the same but our basic needs are becoming more expensive.
Choose one financial goal and then another
Are you thinking about financial goals for 2023?
Here’s a list to help you get started. Or at least started thinking. Change them up and figure out what applies in your situation.
- Pay off debt. Try the snowball method I talk about in this post.
- Emergency savings. Read more in this post.
- Save money to ____. Fill in the blank. Maybe it’s a vacation, renovation, or a car.
- Make more money.
- Learn how to become a DIY investor
- Start a Christmas fund.
If you dread your credit card bill, especially the one in January if you used plastic for Christmas shopping, then make paying off your debt your biggest priority. Start small by first not incurring any further debt.
At the same time, you can also start your Christmas fund. Get rid of that Christmas stress caused by lack of money!
You can also start throwing a little money at your emergency fund.
So that’ll get you started when money is tight and you want to lower your stress levels caused by finances. Bust debt. Emergency fund. Christmas fund.
Don’t tackle too many financial goals all at once. You’ll get overwhelmed, discouraged, and then give up before making progress. Little by little. Get a handle on one goal and then add another.
Increasing grocery prices
Yuck! Aren’t we all getting tired of hearing stories in the news about increasing groceries?
This past year in Canada inflation caused eggs to rise 16.7 per cent, bread rose 15.5 per cent and fresh fruit rose 11.0 per cent. Meat rose 6% to 10%. Dairy prices keep going up.
I’m not so concerned about the rising cost of meat. The joys of being a vegetarian! Or I should say, a pescatarian. I eat seafood, but mostly I follow a plant based diet, so my concerns are more about rising fruit and vegetable costs. You might need to reevaluate your food choices. I’ve drastically cut back on tuna and other seafood over the past two to three years. And even more so in 2022. Though I still keep my eye out for those elusive sales on tinned fish.
For inspiration, read my post about 10 easy ways to save money on a vegetarian diet.
Check out this article about increasing shoplifters at grocery stores.
Soaring grocery prices in Canada spark increase in thefts from stores.
I’m sure increasing theft in grocery stores isn’t limited to Canada. People are hungry. They need to eat. Food prices keep going up. They’re angry at grocery stores that keep reporting profits.
Interestingly, some of the theft is from staff who are reselling the groceries.
More monthly income is needed
I just want to touch on the topic of making more money. I wrote about this topic nearly two years ago before inflation was happening when it was clear that my current job wasn’t going to cover increasing costs in horse boarding and my desire to fully fund my TFSA.
And yet again I feel the crunch of needing more income. Groceries for people aren’t the only food items increasing in price. Pet foods are too. I just got notice of a big bump in horse board due to the cost of hay, feed, and bedding continuously on the rise.
The joy of having an expensive hobby. And a hungry one!
Let me add I’ve owned horses most of my life. I’ve scrimped, saved, and gone without so many things just to afford these beautiful animals who bring me so much happiness.
Generally speaking, making more money means working overtime at your current job or picking up a second job. Maybe starting a side gig.
See The Penny Hoarder for ideas on how to make money.
What if you’re currently unemployed? You’re already struggling just to find one permanent income stream. Finding any income would be totally bonus.
When you’re unemployed and able and willing to work it is so frustrating and discouraging not to find a job. Especially if you’re single and you’re the only income and all you have is negative cash flow.
The road of financial challenges on low income
Start the New Year with a mindset shift. Who’s with me on this? Maybe that can be our New Year’s goal – if we were actually the type of people who make goals for the New Year!
We’ll rethink things and figure out how to make our money work better for us.
We need a plan that is simple enough for us to use. Or we just won’t do it.
Apps to help us budget and save money? There are free ones out there. Maybe this is a thing for the younger set. At my age, I can barely use my cell phone. It has more bells and whistles on it than I’ll ever figure out. My phone is used for calls and occasionally texts. Sometimes I check my email or get online to look for something. I have a bunch of apps, most that are never opened. No more apps for me! Too complicated!
On the other hand, I can use Excel, but spreadsheets can be really complicated. If you’re comfortable with Excel, here’s a link to the budget spreadsheet I use to track my spending.
Pen and paper might work just as well for you.
Financial challenges take commitment. Do you want to change your mindset? Make your life a little easier? Better?
You’re starting with a clean slate in January. If you’re planning to start a Christmas cash envelope for 2023 so you can pay for everything in cash next Christmas, this is the month to get it going. You don’t want to be playing catch up in the summer.
“Let’s aim for progress. It doesn’t have to be perfection. Don’t try to do a whole bunch of financial goals all at once or you’ll become overwhelmed and give up. It’s time to break the cycle of debt and begin putting money away. When you figure out what works for you, you’ll be motivated to keep the ball rolling.”— Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs
The last thing I want to end with is – Always remember: your credit card is not your friend.
Here’s to small successes! Let’s make 2023 better than 2022!