How many times have you said to yourself, “If I only had a little extra money I could . . . ?” There are only three legal ways to have more money to spend: (1) someone gives it to you (inheritance, find, lottery, etc.), (2) you earn more, or (3) you spend less on some things so you can spend more on other things.

While option 1 does happen occasionally, people try very hard to keep hold of their money. There is little guarantee that your rich uncle will die soon or that you will actually be named in his will. Finding money–involuntary giving by the person who lost it–usually only amounts to a few cents. Although when I was very young I think I once found a $50 bill. Playing the lottery has a better potential for receiving (from volunteer givers) a worthwhile sum of extra spending money. However, the chances of winning the lottery are so small that, like finding money, it is difficult to plan for it.

Earning more money is usually a wise option, but may not be readily available under your present circumstances. It may require you to get a second job, obtain more education and training, relocate, or change employers.

Spending less on some items now is often the easier and quickest option. It does require you to take a detailed look at your current spending behaviors to identify expenses you could reduce or eliminate, such as that daily dose of caffeine. Often our habits are good targets for “extra” cash. Here is a simple calculator that my son and I developed to get you stared:

What things have you given up?

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