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What to do when you have no money

Being in a position with little to no money is a position that no one wants to be in but believe it or not, it happens to lots of people every day. According to government data, 18% of the UK are living at poverty levels. Being broke or skint is more common than you think.

In this article, I am going to share with you how you can get out of a situation where you have little to no money. And how to use steps to make sure it’s avoided again in the future.

Whether you’re in a position where you are constantly feeling under pressure or broke or you are in an immediate emergency situation where you have no money to your name this article can help you find answers.

What do you do when you have no money

If you are in immediate crisis and have zero in your bank account here are some sources of help you could explore.

First of all, if you have friends and family that you think could help then try to let them in.

Admitting you have no money is hard but sharing with your family could help solve the situation and they will probably be pleased you trusted them.

Here are some immediate actions to take when you have little or no money at all: 

  • Secure your food supply - deal with your food supply by buying cheap foods that will keep your feed. Big bags of pasta, baked beans are helpful. If you have no money to buy food then visit a food bank they will help you. 
  • Secure your home by talking to your mortgage provider or landlord to explain your situation so that they can offer you advice to buy you some time to sort your situation out. 
  • If you are in debt and have no idea what to do then contact the National Debt Line or Step Change which are both free services that can offer you help to get your debts under control. 

Good to know: Your local council or the job support center is also worth contacting they both have emergency schemes available and depending on your circumstances there might be something that they could offer you. 

Sick of having no money? Follow these tips

If you have some money but are going from month to month where you are finding yourself with little money there are steps you can take to turn your financial situation around, here are a few that have helped me in the past. 

Get a budget plan and stick to it

Having a clear budget is the key to having future financial success. What I mean by this is not having to worry about getting into debt because you are clear where your limits are so you shouldn’t be caught out. 

Check out: Budgeting Tips

When I used to think about having a budget I used to associate it with cutting back and not having much fun.

Actually, with the right budget plan, it doesn’t have to be that way, what a good budget allows you to do is prioritize.

Prioritize what is important to you and your lifestyle and not waste your hard-earned money on things that are not important to you.

This allows you to take control of your finances and your life. It doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun or reward yourself.

A simple yet effective way to budget is to use the 50/30/20 budget rule. This budget is really simple to set up and get your head around. 

pie chart split into 3 showing 50/30/20 rule budget 50% needs Housing Groceries Utility Bills Transport insurance 30% wants gym shopping 20% savings

It requires you to set your budget up using 3 principles:

  • 50% of your income goes to your needs like grocery shopping, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, and travel expenses to get work.
  • 30% of your income goes to your wants (see you can still have some fun!) this could mean shopping, going out and any non-essential bills like Netflix. 
  • Finally, 20% goes towards savings so each month you have a plan to save your money. 

 Like the sound of this budget? Check out our 50/30/20 budget guide where you can also get a free budget spreadsheet & calculator!

Create goals and take responsibility

Having a clear end in mind is a great way to help get yourself out of a crisis for good. Imagine the life you want for yourself what do you want to be long term. 

Think about your current situation and what would make you feel comfortable in the future. It’s not always about having big dreams but it could be about having £1000 saved for a rainy day.

Be specific about your goal and make a goal for the next year and next 5 and 10 years, then write them down. 

The next step is to ask yourself what is holding you back. Do you have expensive hobbies? A job that doesn’t pay enough? Live in an expensive area?

Whatever it is it’s good to be clear in your mind what it is, this will help you figure out what actions you need to take to overcome it.

For instance, if you live in an expensive area you could consider moving to allow yourself time to sort your debts out. 

Little actions can make a big difference!

If you save just 10% of your income every month, by the end of your first year you'll already have a whole months salary put away!

Get a bank account that helps you keep track of your money

Technology has moved on in the last 10 years so much that some banks can now act as your assistant to help you get a better grip on your finances and habits that could be costing you a lot of money. 

phone showing how you can separate your savings with starling bank

Banks like Starling are free to use and give you access to benefits like:

  • Spending insights - Easily see how much your spending habits are costing you. For instance, if you knew you were spending £60 a month on a daily coffee would you consider making your own?
  • Set up saving pots - We talked about setting goals for your savings, well banks like Starling can help you do this! With the Saving space feature, you can create custom saving goals and even add your pictures to keep you motivated towards your goals. 
  • Instant spending notifications - Know exactly when any cash leaves your account with a notification that comes up on your phone.
  • Round-up purchases - Ever heard the saying penny makes pounds? Well, this feature helps you do that. Starling bank can round up your purchases to the nearest pound and add to your savings so can save without even thinking about it. 
  • Scheduled payments are easy to see - Know exactly how much you need to set aside each month with an easy view on your phone to see what direct debits are set up. Also helps you if you need to do a subscription cleanse and cancel anything you are not using. 

Read more about Starling in our Starling bank review.

Sign up to Starling Now!

Find out more about Starling bank by clicking the link  below

Alternatively use an app to help you

Like the idea of Starling but don’t want to switch your bank? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered!

You could connect your existing bank account securely to an app called Cleo. 

Cleo is an AI-powered budgeting app that is like absolutely no other money management tool available. You can ask the app if you can afford to buy a pizza and it will work it out for you so you don’t go over budget!

image shows phone with cleo saving/budget app

Using Cleo’s budgeting app features is easy. And to be frank and incredibly modest, actually really fun. Talk to Cleo about your income, your bills, and your necessary expenses. 

Once you’re done exposing yourself, she’ll figure out exactly how much you can spend, save, and much much more.

1.3m people are already using this app and it was named 2019 best budgeting app!

>Find out more about Cleo here<

Related Articles: Best Budgeting App UK + Money Saving Apps

Pay yourself first

I first heard this about 5 years ago and I didn’t know what it meant so I wanted to include it here to share with you a tip that has helped me save more. 

And it’s really simple but you’d be surprised why more people don’t the idea is that you pay yourself first meaning put your savings aside first as if they are a bill. 

If you put aside a set amount of money each month as soon as you are paid then you are going to save it because you work with the rest.

Don’t wait to see what you have let at the end of the month, save first.

I used this method to start building up my investment portfolio so as soon as I get paid every month I invest straight away and then I know I’ve done it. 

Using this method also I’ve found gives you a sense of achievement right at the start of the month, so if you don’t already use this method try it. 

If you are worried you don’t have much to save my advice is to start somewhere, even if you can only afford £20 a month just put it aside and keep doing it, because as circumstances change you can increase as you are in the habit of saving. 

Use cashback apps to earn more money

The digital revolution has bought in many benefits, including apps that pay.

Did you know?  You can earn cash back vouchers for just doing your normal shopping or for filling in surveys and watching videos?

Well, you can use a service called Swagbucks. 

It’s free to join and here’s how it works; Shop online, Watch entertaining videos, Search the web, Answer surveys and find great deals to earn your points.

Once you have enough points Redeem your points for gift cards to your favorite retailers like Amazon or get cash back from PayPal.

So rather than wasting time scrolling through Facebook why not watch a few videos and earn money to treat yourself. 

>Join Swagbucks for free here<

Have a clear-out

When I say clear out I mean do 2 things:

Clear out your bills

Check out your monthly committed spending, are there any unwanted subscription services that you no longer should be paying for? Are you paying for a gym membership that you aren’t using?

Are there any services that you are out of contract on and could ring and get the price down? Do this to see if you can make more disposable income for yourself. 

Sell unwanted stuff

Having a clear out is a good opportunity to get rid of unwanted items in a sustainable way that could help generate some immediate cash in your pocket to either help with savings or paying off any debt. 

There are various ways to do this, I would recommend the following:

Facebook Marketplace is free and great for selling odd bits around the house, It simple to list you just need to take a photo and a short description, and your good to go.

You don’t need to worry about shipping either as it’s meant for local area collection. 

I would use this method for lower value items where you don’t need to worry about fraud potential, for higher value items such as mobile phones check out eBay.

eBay is a fantastic platform, although it costs to use this service you don’t need to worry about fraud as you have buyer protection through eBay and Paypal (its payment service). 

To make sure you make the most profit wait for a weekend where fees are limited, the most popular offer I like to use is max £1 selling fees, since normally you would pay 10% of the final selling price. 

If you can afford to wait do it when a 'max selling fee' offer is on. 

Get a side hustle

If one of your barriers is that you don’t enough cash to support the lifestyle you want to live or need then a side hustle is a good option. This could help you stop living from paycheck to paycheck. 

A side hustle doesn’t necessarily mean setting up another business it could be getting a part-time job, here are 10 ideas for you to explore:

  1. 1
    Set up your e-commerce shop - check out this article on Salehoo to help you explore that
  2. 2
    Become a personal assistant - use sites like Fiverr to find clients and work hours that suit you
  3. 3
    Become a delivery or food driver - depending on where you live or what transportation you have you could look into companies like Deliveroo, Uber, or even your local takeaway.
  4. 4
    Become a pet sitter -  Love animals? Why not take care of them for others
  5. 5
    Offer cleaning or ironing services - Use Facebook marketplace to promote for free in your local area.
  6. 6
    Become a mystery shopper -  Mystery shopping is a really fun way to earn some extra money. Often the tasks will be to go to a restaurant or café, which means that as well as getting paid, you get a free meal out of it too! 
  7. 7
    Offer babysitting services - If you want to make a business of this you would need to get qualified but if you have lots of friends with children they might be happy to pay you to do it.
  8. 8
    Flip items for profit - I mentioned the Facebook marketplace earlier in this article, well on this platform you will find lots of people giving away stuff they no longer need or selling for a very low price. If you have an eye for detail you could start collecting stuff, cleaning it up, and marketing it in a better way to make a profit.
  9. 9
    Rent out a spare room of your home - depending on your circumstances this could be a good option to make some spare cash out of your spare room.
  10. 10
     Airbnb experiences - similar to renting out your room but did you know Airbnb offers experiences? If you live in a city or a tourist area you could make money by offering tours or experiences. 

Prepare for emergencies

No one plans to be in debt and usually being in debt is the result of an unexpected cost, and you might just think well that’s just life.

Well, you would be right but there is a way to get the odds in your favor but having an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is usually 3-6 months’ worth of your salary to save you from unexpected costs.

This could include losing your job, sudden house or car repairs, etc. Even if you are still paying off debt try to put some money aside each month to start building your savings. 

This will at the very least stop you from getting into even more debt.

Invest your money

Once you have enough money saved for emergencies investing could be something to consider, it has helped me personally make my money work harder for me.

Of course, I always recommend seeking independent financial advice before investing as your capital is at risk. 

Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about investing you can use services like Motley Fool Share Advisor to help you invest responsibly. With stocks and shares ISA you can invest up to 20k a year tax-free. 

Make sure you are first signed up to your employer’s pension plan though if you haven’t already as the majority of them will at least match your contributions.

Cut your expenses

Have a deep dive into all of your expenses to make sure you are spending money on things that are beneficial to you. 

There is no point in having no money all of the time for things that you don’t believe in. Start by keeping a record of your daily spending, and reflect if you need to spend this. 

Make sure you look at all of your subscription services and weigh up if you are using them enough to justify the costs.

If you are out of contract on any services like Sky TV or broadband for example it is well worth contacting them to cancel you would be surprised the deal you can get just to sign up for another year or so. 

Shop smart

There are lots of clever marketing ploys that trick you into spending more money than you need to every day. 

Supermarkets are one of the biggest culprits for this from the layout of each store to the offers when you are inside, check out this article on saving money on grocery shopping to help you shop smarter.

Look at all of your spending habits and do everything in moderation

Are there any habits that are costing you a lot of money each month like drinking or smoking?

If you’re in debt and struggling to make ends meet then think about how you can still enjoy the things you love in moderation whilst you sort your finances out.

Or if you are trying to quit a bad habit by adding how much it costs you could be the motivation you need to stop. 

Happiness doesn’t need to cost you money

If you find a lot of your spending is coming from days out then look into free activities that don’tcost as much or are free even.

Look into free days out in your area and commit to trying one of those every month instead of a costly activity. 

If you like to have lunch out consider trading it in for a picnic where you take your drinks etc. You could even try a no buy year.

The bottom line you can still do the things you love but you don’t have to spend lots of money doing it if you are creative. 

Get a payment plan for your debts

If you are in debt then it can be easy to bury your head in the sand but it’s best, to be honest, and get it all on the table.

If your debt is in multiple sources then it might be a good idea to consolidate it all together so you work with one payment a month, you could also end up saving on the interest rate.

Speak with an independent financial advisor or visit your local bank to get support with your options. 

Dealing with one payment and having a clear end date in mind could help relieve the pressure and put you back in control of your finances. 

Make sure you are claiming any tax benefits you can

Most people don’t know about tax relief benefits that are available check out the government website to find out more but ones that I have personally benefited from in the past are:

  • Uniform allowance: if you wear a company uniform you can claim the tax back for having to wash it, so do it.
  • Working from home: This year I had to work from home because of the pandemic, and the government set up a tax-free allowance even if you only worked 3 days from home you can claim for the entire year. It was worth over £360 for me and took 10 mins to fill in. 

Bottom line

Even the most successful of us can go through phases of having no money and I know it’s not a nice place to be and can feel very overwhelming.

In my experience, the best way to combat this is to take control of your situation by fully understanding how it happened and what you can do to turn it around. 

Hopefully, the tips provided in this article can help you make a start and have a more financially fruitful future!

What do you think? Do you have any other tips that could help others? 

Let me know in the comments below! And please share if you found it helpful 🙂 

About the author 

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for financial freedom. She is the founder of MeMoreMoney, and a featured Personal Finance expert in GO Banking Rates and Yahoo! Finance. Mary loves to make money simple and understandable for everyone. Her goal is to help people make simple changes so that they have more money to live the way they want.

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