If you earn one income, stretch it

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You work so hard yet your income barely covers your expenses. Quitting is not an option because this is your only source of income.

If you are grappling with this dilemma, it’s clear that surviving on a single income source is no longer possible.

Instead of whining about this situation, you need to work with what you have to ensure your expenses are covered and, if not, consider avenues to earn extra money.

Getting out of this cycle requires you to make some hard decisions.

You could start with reviewing how you spend your current income. If you reviewed the expenses, you will certainly find areas where you need to cut back, especially if the impact of this action is not life threatening.

You need to prioritise your expenditure and focus on the basics while you work out how to source for side income. This means you have to defer the purchase of some of those luxuries in order to free some income.

If you have not been saving, now is the time to start the habit of putting away some amount per month.

This will allow you to build a nest that can be used to take care of some emergencies.

No matter what you earn, put some money aside in savings. To save on purchases of vegetables, you can embark on gardening if you have space in your backyard to grow this produce.

Another decision you can make is to be true to yourself and not to keep up appearances. Come to terms with your financial status and quit propping up a lifestyle that can’t keep up with your current income.

For example, if you own a car whose maintenance you cannot afford, it wouldn’t kill you if you parked it and car pooled or used public means until you generate income to afford the fuel.

If selling it would take care of some of the urgent cash obligations, then that’s the desirable option.

If you want your savings to grow faster, find some like-minded people and start pooling resources for investment.

You should, however, choose these people carefully because if you join the wrong crowd, you may not make decisions fast particularly with those who, because of a conservative mindset, prefer to save money as opposed to investing it to grow.

You need to increase your earnings by sourcing other income streams. As long as they do not interfere with your main job. There should be some skills that you have that can be exploited to bring you extra income. The network in your office and social areas should provide the initial market for your ideas that you can turn into extra income generating sources.

If you think starting a side business is a possible next income source, consider how you will finance it.

Many people focus on borrowing money for a start-up, which may not be a good alternative given their current financial status and the cost of credit.

If you are a novice at business, you are better off using savings or soft loans that will not adversely impact on your finances. Remember that it takes a while before your business picks up, so consider what will happen during that period, particularly if there is no income to cover the payments for the loan.

Other savings can be made in the form of proper utilisation of power and water to make sure you save some money on utility bills. In addition, plan your meals in advance so that you know what your menu will cost and shop accordingly.

Ultimately, with proper planning, you can ensure that your current finances can be stretched within the period as you work out how to expand your sources of income.

The writer works with Bank of Uganda

This article first ran in the Lifestyle in the New Vision