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Are you looking for creative ways to make your dollar go further?

About a quarter of Americans have lost their income or taken pay cuts in the past few months. As a result, many people must find new and innovative ways to stretch our reduced paychecks or our savings accounts to ensure financial stability.

When times are less tough, you often don’t notice the little ways that you spend more money than you need to. While $5 here and $10 there doesn’t feel like much in the moment, those payments can add up and take a toll on your bank account.

Now is a great time to learn more about how you can spend less and save more! The goal isn’t to give up all the things you love but to prioritize, budget, and cut costs whenever possible.

Read on for our team’s top 6 tips to stretch your money this summer.

1. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions.

Over the years, you may have accumulated a hefty list of subscription services. You started with Netflix but then noticed that Hulu, Amazon, and HBO all had shows and movies Netflix didn’t have. Somehow, you wound up with more streaming subscriptions than you’ll ever have time to watch!

Plus, you subscribe to a music streaming service and a handful of magazines you rarely read from cover to cover. Some of them even have those same articles available for free online.

If you’re a subscription lover, take the time to look through all of your subscriptions. Evaluate how much they cost per month and how much use you get out of them. See if any of your subscriptions offer bundling packages that grant you a two-for-one deal and ask your friends if they’re interested in swapping passwords to save everyone a little money.

2. Cook at home more to stretch your money.

Eating from home has gotten a little easier now that most restaurants aren’t open for sit-down service. Still, as time has gone by, it’s been tempting to order takeout or delivery.

Start documenting how much you’re paying for the food you aren’t cooking yourself. If it’s a substantial amount, consider placing a limit on how frequently you can order food from restaurants—even cheaper ones! Take this opportunity to learn more basic cooking skills and commit to mastering at least five dishes you absolutely love.

3. Defer payments if possible.

Some expenses are inevitable. You may be paying off a few loans, plus any bills you have and your monthly rent or mortgage payment. Did you know that you may be able to defer some of these payments for a few months?

For example, as part of the federal coronavirus stimulus bill, graduates with federal student loans can opt to defer payments for up to two months. Some landlords and mortgage companies are also offering payment forgiveness or deferrals to help tenants and homeowners through this tough time. It’s worth doing a bit of research to find out if you can hold off on some of these major payments for a bit.

4. Plan inexpensive activities.

Normally, you might spend your weekends at the movies, meeting friends for dinner and drinks, or catching a show at your local concert venue. A lot of these options are off the table at the moment, making this an ideal time to explore inexpensive, fun activities.

Take a hike at a free or low-cost nature park. If you live in a city, commit to learning your way around the streets you’re less familiar with by taking long walks. As long as you can stay at least six feet away from others and don’t contribute to over-crowding, now is a great time to get outdoors and get moving—for little to no cost.

5. Set realistic budgets and focus on short-term goals to stretch your money.

Budgeting can seem a little scary if it’s not something you normally do. Sometimes, tightening your purse strings too much straight away can backfire. You may go over your budget, which can cause doubt, stress, and frustration.

Instead of making massive changes all at once and focusing on the big picture, set short-term goals that you know you can achieve. For example, we mentioned earlier giving yourself a budget for ordering food from restaurants. You can also limit the amount of non-essential goods you can order online, or commit to wearing the clothes you have in your closet rather than buying a new summer wardrobe.

Setting short-term goals will help you adjust to the world of budgeting. Meeting them will create tons of wins that build your confidence and your momentum.

6. Use free self-care resources.

Self-care is important, especially in times of stress. Everyone has their go-to self-care moves, whether that’s hitting the nail salon, grabbing an ice-cream cone, or spending screen-free, quality time with friends.

If your self-care tends to involve spending a little dough, consider free alternatives. Look for self-care resources that help you focus on your inner self and find peace of mind. Personally, we’re big fans of Yoga with Adriene, a YouTube channel where you can find yoga videos for just about every skill level.

If you love to read and have a habit of buying new books faster than you can read them, check out any e-book resources provided by your local library. You can select from thousands of titles that are instantly delivered right to your e-reader, phone, computer, or tablet—for free!

Take care of your dental health.

One of the best ways to stretch money is to make easy, affordable, healthy choices and avoid big medical bills. Taking care of your dental health by brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and rinsing with mouth wash can fend off any cavities, plaque, or gum disease that might be hovering around the corner.

If it’s time for your check-up or you’ve factored your cosmetic dental procedures into your budget, book an appointment today. We do everything we can to make our dental services affordable for everyone.