The Big question: How can I increase my personal cash flow?
A Simple Answer: Increase Income while decreasing expenses
This answer may be simple, but the strategies to increase income and decrease expenses may seem harder than it looks. In this episode, we will address how to decrease expenses. Let’s talk about some strategies!
1. Know Your Goals: Why are you trying to increase cash flow?
- WHAT’S THE BIG PICTURE? Figure out what your ideal month/year looks like. You can’t hit your goal if you don’t have one! Are you trying to pay down debt? How much debt? (See episode #18 – a good episode to help you work toward eliminating debt) Are you trying to save more in your retirement accounts? Are you just trying to make end’s meet?
- Knowing your goals will help you figure out how much/how long you need to increase your cash flow. Whether it is for a short season, a couple of years, or for the long-term, it is good to nail down the time-frame for this need of increased cash flow. This can determine if you just need supplemental income or a job change.
Every prudent man acts out of knowledge… (Proverbs 13:16a, NIV84)
2. Know Your Bottom Line: Examine Your Needs
- It is helpful to know exactly how much money you are REQUIRED to spend every month on necessary bills. You can’t get out of paying your rent, mortgage, or utility bills. If your monthly expenses are $2,000/month, and you are making $2,200/month, you have an idea of the margin between your income and expenses. Knowing your ‘margins’ will give you a good idea of how much extra income you will need for a season. Will an additional part time job help meet your goal? Will a side hustle help? Or is a job-change necessary?
- Although you can’t eliminate them, it is possible to decrease certain necessary expenses…
- Electric Bill – Don’t use more electricity than you need. Consider LED Light Bulbs and energy-saving appliances. Use fans instead of AC on the days that you can.
- Water Bill – Don’t take 30 minute showers or run the water longer than you need to.
- Cell Phone – Do you really need a top-name cell provider? Consider choosing a third-party network or join a family plan with others.
- Internet – Reduce your internet speed for a cheaper rate. Purchase your own equipment instead of renting from the cable company.
- However, you can’t neglect the needs of your family.
- 1 Timothy 5:8 ESV – “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
3. Do you really need it? Decrease your unnecessary expenses
- Where is your money leaking? If you do some “forensics” on your personal budget, you just may find out that you are spending more consumer goods and subscriptions than you may think.
- Could you reduce or eliminate certain subscriptions? The cost of Spotify may seem nominal, but when you combine it with the expenses of Netflix, Disney+, they add up very, very quickly!
- Are you using certain memberships? According to Exercise.com, 67% of all gym memberships go unused!
- Are you PAYING for your convenience? Your morning coffee and lunch out at work will quickly add up. By plugging the holes, you can stop/slow the bleeding!
- Could you go without certain luxuries for a season? Rather than going out to eat every week, cut it down to once a month. If you usually spend $200/month on restaurants, and cut it down to $50/month, that’s an extra $150/month of cash that becomes free!
- Grocery shop at discount stores like Aldi instead of Target. Although name brand groceries are nice, they are not necessary. Consider shopping cheaper for a season.
- Examine whether or not you need specific insurances. Are you overpaying on insurance that you carry on certain items?
- Do you pay for unlimited data on your phone but rarely use it? Cell phone data plans can get pricey fast, so examine how much data you really need. You could save quite a few bucks by cutting back on your cell phone plans.
- Downgrade cable and streaming services. Consider downgrading for a season (which may turn into forever!) Do you really use many/all the cable tv stations? If not, consider eliminating cable tv totally and just get one streaming service and an antenna to get local channels if interested.
- Let priorities inform your spending – stop spending on unnecessary things. Are they really “needs” or are they really just “wants?”
4. Put That Extra Cash to Work
- Remember… What is your goal for that extra cash flow?
- If it’s to pay down debt, pay it down!
- If it’s to save more, save it!
- If it’s to be generous, then give it away!
- Don’t get distracted by the extra dollars and spend them on more luxuries or lifestyle expenses.
- If you are needlessly working yourself just to pay for lifestyle expenses, what are you really doing? You’re exhausting yourself for external pleasure. It’s empty and meaningless (Eccl. 5).
- Put them to good work so that you can be generous, protect your family, and achieve your goals. It is required of Stewards that they be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:2).
- Danger: Increasing cash flow while increasing expenses. It can be tempting to start spending away that extra cash while neglecting your reason for increasing your cash flow in the first place. Keep those expenses low as you increase your income. It is hard and takes discipline, but it is possible and is worth it!
CONCLUSION // STEWARDSHIP APPLICATION
- Remember your goals. Make sure your plan accomplishes those goals.
- Be disciplined to stick to the plan.
- Don’t neglect the needs of your family.
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