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Straight up, being poor can really suck. It makes it hard to live the kind of life you want. We chatted to some young people to see what they do to make it a little easier to get by on not much dosh.

How to manage financial stress

**Blowing a raspberry** to being poor

Hands-up who likes having to get by on not much dosh. *Crickets* Yep, that’s pretty much what we thought. Young people all over Australia are facing unemployment, underemployment and financial stress, which can make it really hard to afford the essentials – housing, food, paying bills – let alone the fun stuff.

Eleisha, a full-time uni student, says being poor can have a major impact on your choices and lifestyle: ‘I don’t have much money for my weekly expenditures, and I have very low savings for future purchases such as a house and a car. There’s not a lot of security. I’m a bit worried now, but I’m more worried about how it’s going to affect me in the future.’

Living this way can create a lot of stress and anxiety, and often means you need to make sacrifices. SpiderGirl18 commented on the ReachOutForums: ‘So many young people like myself aren't able to live the lifestyle they want.... I’ve felt pressure to move out of [my local area] due to work opportunities being so far from me. I think that study and work can already cause stressors in our life, and adding issues such as travel and finances increases this stress [even] more.’

Where you live can add to your financial woes

People living in the city and in the country are impacted in different ways. Jakob, commenting on our forum, says that living rural can be tough because the areas aren’t getting the funding and resources they might have had in the past: ‘I've noticed changes over the years. There are fewer jobs in the rural places.... For sure, there is pressure on you to try to find a job, and it's not always easy. Some people have a lack of transport or funds to even have that option to move closer to where the jobs are, and have limited funds for study in general.’

Back in your day… Was it easier for the folks?

A lot of people think it was easier when their parents were young. Nick says that even though salaries were lower back then, the cost of living was lower, too, and our folks didn’t have the marketing pressures we do to buy so much: ‘I think it's easier today to be seduced by a product's marketing. I feel a lot of pressure to buy stuff, even if I can’t afford it. If you don’t have the latest thing, you feel left behind, even deprived.’ Bianca thinks it’s because things are more competitive. ‘In order to get a job these days, you are competing with so many people.… It can start to feel a little hopeless, especially if you’ve been looking for a long time. You think: “Will it ever happen for me?”’

You can still have fun, but you gotta think creative

Just because you’re low on cash, it doesn’t mean you can’t still go out and have fun. Here are some great options:

  • Find cheaper alternatives when you go out. Look for deals like Scoupon or Super Tuesdays.
  • Start an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all your expenses, or use a free tool like MoneySmart or MoneyHelp. Have a separate account that your bills come out of, and another one for savings.
  • Ditch the car (if you can), and try walking or using public transport. If you have to use a car, try an app like MotorMouth to find cheap fuel near you.
  • Start a mini savings jar – and check out Pinterest for some cool ideas for how to pimp your jar.
  • Take the opportunity to spend time with friends doing stuff. Taste and Delish have some great ideas for recipes you can make at home that won’t break the bank.
  • Take advantage of nature! Tick some of these great walks off your list, or keep up with the hottest place to surf.

What can I do now?

  • Spend time hanging out at friends’ places or in nature, rather than wasting coin.
  • Download an app, not just on budgeting like You Need a Budget (YNAB), but for connecting with people in your area, such as MeetUp.
  • Plan ahead. Plan your meals, plan your expenses, and then you won’t need to think about it. It can be really tough to be broke all the time.
  • It can create a lot of anxiety, and you can feel like you’re always in survival mode. But there are things you can do to help yourself out a bit. Spending time with your mates and the people who matter to you can help you feel connected, and give you some great ideas for making things easier. You can also join the convo on this money thread on the forum.