Modern life is expensive. The cost of living continues to rise, and wages haven’t even gotten close to catching up in the past 20+ years. This means that even people who are used to being financially stable and comfortable can find themselves in dire financial straits should an emergency happen—and that’s not even addressing those of us who are eking by.

Whether you have trouble gaining control of your money or are in a position to add a cushion of savings to be more secure in the future, things don’t have to look hopeless. Here are a few tips to help.

Perform Financial Triage

Just as a doctor investigates symptoms and runs tests to help fix you up when you’re ill or injured, you should look at your financial pain points to see what can be addressed immediately to make your situation a little less scary and a little more comfortable.

Sometimes, the issue is known, but the fix is complicated. For example, if you have student loan debt and have done everything you can to be frugal so that you can pay it down, the issue isn’t your personal spending habits. In a situation like this, it can be helpful to research loan forgiveness and assistance plans as well as refinancing options.

For more minor fixes, look over your bank and credit card statements over the past six months or year to see if there are areas of opportunity—maybe you have a subscription you pay for annually but don’t need anymore. Keeping note of when it expires before it autorenews can help you breathe easier. Plus, you can get an idea of things you might be spending more on than you really need to; for instance, switching to a different car insurance provider might help you save more. Knowing where every bit of your income is going, and performing financial triage to cut down on unnecessary (or forgotten) expenses can help you over the longer term.

Find Ways to Earn More

Cutting out certain expenses and consolidating loans might not be enough—if you’re able, you may find it beneficial to seek out other ways to earn more.

Actively keep your employment options open—obviously we’re not saying “Umm, just find a job that pays better!” Rather, you might be able to reach out to whatever network you have to see if there are opportunities that could be available to you; you also might be able to take a little time each day (or each week, or whatever schedule you can work with) to look for jobs you qualify for and that either pay better or have better benefits than the one you have—carving out time to find and apply to other positions, deliberately, can help you improve your financial situation more quickly.

Another option that can go a long way is to earn certifications and additional training in your field, which can open you up to promotions or better-paying jobs elsewhere. Of course, these aren’t usually free and can sometimes be quite expensive (especially if you decide to go for a degree), but your employer may actually have resources to help offset those costs. And with the plethora of free and discounted courses online through accredited and respected universities, you can increase your knowledge and skillsets without getting a degree—something that can complement your resume, especially if you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of experience yet.

Another option that we’ve written a fair amount about here on Frayed Passport is overemployment—that is, working two full-time jobs with the intent to earn extra money, even for a short amount of time. It sounds dystopian, and a lot of people already work two or more jobs out of necessity. We’re not advocating that you work yourself into an early grave—what we do want to highlight is that depending on the field you’re in (or that you’re interested in), you can find ways to work two full-time jobs at least for a little while without burning out:

And finally, if you’re able, investing wisely can help you over the longer term—here are a few articles to help you get started:

Find Ways to Cut Spending

We already discussed this a little bit in the financial triage section above, but being brutal with your budget and finding all of the ways you can cut down spending, even for a little while, can help improve your financial situation over the longer term.

When performing your financial checkup, separate your spending into sections, such as bills, loan repayments, and necessities like food. Then look at the extras—that is, anything else you don’t absolutely need. Find what you can cut out or cut down on realistically, like subscriptions or services you don’t need anymore. See what you can save on better, like shopping for bulk items at wholesale stores like Costco. Look at your credit cards and see what savings options and coupons are available both for necessities and for extras like entertainment and dining out.

And we can’t have a personal finance article on this site without mentioning geoarbitrage for those readers who are in the position to take advantage of it: basically, this is the act of moving to a place with a lower cost of living while maintaining your current income, allowing you to save more. A few articles on that subject:

A fair amount of your budget might be spent on outstanding debt and loans, like student debt, medical bills, credit cards, etc. There are many resources out there to help manage all kinds of debt, and experts like Alex Kleyner offer advice to help people become financially independent and debt-free. Getting rid of debt is your ticket to loosening some of those financial shackles—look into things like government assistance programs, employee assistance programs and benefits that may be available to you through your job, and loan consolidation programs. If you can, take steps individually to pay down your debt more quickly, like paying biweekly rather than monthly (meaning you’ll ultimately make 13 monthly payments rather than 12 over the course of a year), and paying over the minimum, which helps to cut down on interest. Read this article for detailed budgeting ideas—it’s written for our digital nomad readers, but may be very helpful to you!

Want more tips to help you save more and achieve financial freedom? Read our guides here!

Featured image by micheile henderson on Unsplash

Frayed Passport is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to