6 easy tricks to stretch your income

Tired of your income disappearing before the bills are paid? These six tips will free up more income to meet your needs and wants.

By MSN Money Partner May 9, 2014 1:10PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyEver sat and thought about all the things you could do if you had more money? You're not alone.

A bunch of dollar bills © Tetra Images, Getty ImagesBut when it comes down to it, there's probably very little spare change lying around. So, the first step is to figure out where you stand in terms of disposable income and make spending cuts.

But deprivation is not the answer. If you're hungry, eat. It doesn't make sense to starve yourself and justify it by saying that you need to save money. You get my point.

Here are a few realistic ideas to help you get started:

1. Stop swiping

Is your debit card getting you into trouble? Perhaps your balance is being dinged by overdraft fees, or maybe impulse buys mean you run out of money before your bills are paid.

If so, put away the card and use cash instead. Also, take care of yourself and your household first before you tend to any other nonessential items.

If the credit cards are a problem, put them where you can't easily get at them, and pay off the balance due. Call the credit card company and see if it will work out a repayment plan for you.

2. Say goodbye to dining on the fly

Way too painful to do? Well, you may have to do so at least temporarily until you make cuts elsewhere or increase your income, because this area is arguably the most common budget buster of them all.

When was the last time you sat down and crunched the numbers to see how much you really spend on food? If the number is relatively low, kudos to you. But I can assure you that this isn't the case for most of us. If it were, a number of dining establishments would be out of business.

I completely understand that prepping food at home can be quite time-consuming, but it can also save you a ton of cash. Isn't that the objective here? To help streamline the process, set a weekly budget for food and use a meal planner that incorporates coupons. Also, cook large portions and don't be afraid to put the microwave to use the following day.

3. Bring the party home

We all need to unwind on occasion, some more than others. But if you're going to dig yourself in a hole doing so, that's no fun. Instead, save yourself the heartache and have your pals bring over a covered dish, their beverage of choice, and their favorite board game.

Take a look at "14 ways to have more fun for less money" for additional inexpensive entertainment ideas.

4. Pay close attention to your surroundings

It may be time to have a utility audit done to determine what's driving up the monthly bill. Also, do you really need a cable box in every room, if any at all? Netflix and online television are always an option. And as for your well-manicured lawn, is there a way you can cut back on the number of services per month or do it yourself?

Renting a place and the lease agreement is due to expire soon? You may want to consider downsizing to give your pockets a break. But be sure to weigh the costs of moving and doling out cash for a security deposit against the benefits of a lower monthly payment.

5. Park your ride

Give your car a break and tag along with someone else. Not only is this less stressful because of the convenient HOV lanes, but much cheaper. You can also walk or ride your bicycle to work if your residence is in close proximity to your place of employment to cut costs and stay fit.

And while you're at it, if your car is eating up a large chunk of your monthly income, you may want to look into finding a cheaper alternative.

6. And for all your other expenses …

Depending on how severe the situation is, you may have to cut out a ton of other lovely little pleasures that I haven't mentioned.

Need a few ideas? Let's start by shaving down the hair and spa appointments, trips to the car wash and late-night runs to the convenience store for your favorite snacks. Once you implement these cuts, you will more than likely be able to make your income work for you and even save a little cash while doing so.

Having a hard time getting started? Check out "How to develop an effortless budget you'll stick to" or drop into your local financial institution or an accredited credit counseling agency for free advice.

Do you have any additional tips?

More from Money Talks News


May 9, 2014 7:49PM
Stop saying yes to every proposed  tax increase and vote every fuking bum out of office that votes for one. 
May 11, 2014 10:38AM
Let me add, anyone out there with a little money is already experienced at stretching it, what they want is an environment where they can make a living wage!
May 9, 2014 9:26PM
I don't want to stretch what I have, I want to make more so I can have a better and more satisfying life rather than worry about pinching pennies....duh dummy. 
May 12, 2014 8:53AM

First keep as much of your income for yourself.  Vote to remove from office anyone who wants to increase the amount that is taken from you or your neighbor. 


Insist that the centralized federal government return to you a greater portion of your income than is currently being taken until the amount is either zero or is equal for every US citizen, which ever comes first.  Vote to remove from office those that oppose equal treatment under the law for all US citizens, including the income tax law.


Insist that the politicians eliminate federal government involvment in all programs that are not explicitly called for in the Constitution.  Vote to remove those from office that wish to maintain the size of the centralized federal government or wish to expand it our its regulatory ability.

May 9, 2014 11:50PM
May 9, 2014 9:18PM
ya know i think we should all run lemonade stands on the corner lol, cause everyone along with msn has been driking the kool aid for too long now..
May 12, 2014 9:34AM
If you are using a debit card, you are spending cash. The cash in your checking account. If you can do basic math, you should be fine.
May 10, 2014 12:32AM
6 Progressive Liberal Tricks to Stretch 'Your' Income:

1. Go on welfare
2. Collect disability (even though you're able-bodied, and then get a new job under the table)
3. Sue your employer for discrimination (You don't have to prove it,..just accuse them, sit back and watch the $ roll in.)
4. Go to jail, 3 hots and a cot, courtesy of the taxpayers, all the sex you'll ever want, courtesy of "Tiny"
5. Don't pay your rent, that's for chumps,..just become a squatter. It'll take them a year to evict you - pocket the rent $.
6. Do ALL of the above and moonlight as an aggressive panhandler.  

May 9, 2014 9:17PM

what a **** article LOL park your car and ride to work on a bike? ok so you'll get to work saving 5-10 dollars on gas..and with the time it takes ( 3 times longer ) you'll lose the time it took to make that 5-10 dollars..ROFL what a joke......how is that good advice...and how many people live within 5 miles of there work? and what if my bike gets a flat tire.. guess ill just get fired for being late..awesome advice msn...

May 12, 2014 11:12AM
At the low rate of job and income growth,  another idea soon to be bandied is darning your socks.
Then later,  eating grass and leaves.
Eventually we will welcome Chinese 'managers'  because they will give us food and better socks.
OR..............let's just throw every bum in Congress and in the White House out now,  along with millions of leeches in every category of government employ that suck up taxes,  occupy space and breath our air and do nothing more besides causing friction and problems for the few of us we who are still out here trying to make an honest living.

May 12, 2014 11:49AM
Maybe you should forward this list to DC, because your not telling we the people anything we don't already know.
May 10, 2014 12:16AM
This is the 'Money' section of MSN, who support big money. Instead of writing an article about how to build pressure on businesses to pay people what they should be paying for their work, this 'planted' article by big-money interests shows up instead.
Notice that the writer of the article is not named. That's because it's a fake planted article by big business.
May 9, 2014 7:38PM
May 12, 2014 9:23AM

Buy a home WAY BELOW your means.

Find a home that's maybe a bit smaller than you'd have preferred or needs a bit of sprucing up.

People buy homes costing two to three times their annual income and create their own potential financial mess by doing so.

My home cost 7 months income.

My daughter's Offer to Purchase on a home was accepted this weekend--and I just ran the numbers and it's only 7 months of her income, too---and she's paying cash for the home.  She's only 33 years old and will be moving into a paid-in-full home :)  Well, if the inspection goes well enough--she's getting that done this week--but she's very practical and knows all homes often need some things done and she's fine with that.

We both have homes in decent neighborhoods.

May 12, 2014 1:11PM

Why should people try to save when government doesn't?


May 12, 2014 12:30PM

The only way for American wage to rise is nationalistic policies that bring back stiff tariffs and trust busting to increase competition.  Increased competition leads to more value placed on good employees and stiff tariffs will force companies to produce here leading to more jobs and an increase in competition for workers.  "Free trade" is the greatest single cause of the loss of American jobs.

May 12, 2014 1:19PM
Only someone who does not have a clue about how to cut spending would find this article helpful. The part about parking your ride and ride a bike is so laughable. How many people out there actually live that close to work? That is unless you live in the city and work just down the street. The average person drives an estimated two hundred or more miles a week who drive back and forth to work unless they live way out in the country which could be twice that amount. Very few people live walking or bike riding distance from work. I use a debit card and having loose cash causes me to spend more. I keep close tabs on what I spend with a debit card and it actually saves me more money that way. I never eat on the fly and either eat before I leave the house and I go home home on my lunch hour which is 4 miles away from work. I sure would not ride a bike that far up and down steep hills to work and back. That would be crazy! None of these tips on here, as usual, is of no use to me.
May 15, 2014 5:17PM
May 12, 2014 7:52AM
Eat beans and rice...and ride a bicycle.
May 12, 2014 1:41PM
"BARRY" used to go by the "handle:
Dr. Dubury Midung, M.D.
Pretty queer !
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