“Economic issues will affect your life. You cannot control what happens in our economy but you can be accountable for your choices and how you prepare and handle economic downturns. Proactive accountability always is more effective then reactive accountability.” -Sam Silverstein
I really don’t know anyone who isn’t afraid or upset by the economic crisis. The reigning emotion is definetly fear. What works for me during confusing times is to define the issues I can control and get a grip on what I can’t control. Then I take action and do what I can do.
1. Shop less. If you don’t absolutely need something don’t buy it. Shopping for some is entertainment. Others shop because they’re bored.
Shopping compulsively can cause debt, stress, family conflict and even depression. Shopping doesn’t increase self esteem. It doesn’t lead to happiness. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
2. Choose to cut down on “extras.”
If you are struggling to make ends meet, if you need to pay off debt or want to save money stop buying extras yourself. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” “Is this an impulse purchase.” “Can I afford this?” Be honest.
One of the choices you face daily is how you spend your income. Recently I decided I wouldn’t buy new clothing for 1 year. I love new clothes and looking great. Who doesn’t? However I have enough clothes that look great. I project not “needing” anything new for one year. After that I will reevaluate.
I grew up with hand-me-downs. My children did the same. We all survived. Wear your clothing until it is worn out. It’s a bold step to take.
2. Cut your food budget. My husband loves going out to eat. We’ve decided we’ll share all meals out. This decision has a ripple effect. Because restaurants have doubled portion sizes in the past sharing means we won’t overeat. Sharing means we’ll be healthier. Sharing means we won’t leave food on our plates and sharing means we’ll spend less!
We take turns ordering. We have done this ocassionally in the past. Now we are committed to doing it regularly. When we were young and didn’t have much extra money for eating out we knew the where abouts of every restaurant that had a free food buffet at happy hour. We only paid for our drinks and if we drank pop or soda there were free refills. Get creative with your food budget. It’s amazing the changes one can make.
3. Get rid of unnecessary monthly expenses. Get rid of magazine subscriptions both on and off line. Get out of any unnessecary “memberships” you have both on and off line. Get rid of excess newspaper subscriptions off and online. Stop buying new books. Utilize your library! It’s amazing what you have access to for no or little money at the public library.
4. Entertainment. If you do go to the movies go to the matinee, it’s cheaper. Don’t buy the overpriced and unhealthy pop and popcorn. Eat before you leave home. You can also rent movies. Do you remember when that was a treat?
Instead of going to a concert buy the musician’s newest CD. Look for free concerts in parks. Look online for free or inexpensive events in your city.
Also stop overspending on childrens entertainment, especially birthday parties! They teach children greed.
Chilren have come to expect parents to entertain them. Teach them to entertain themselves! Learn to engage in activities together that require little or no money. (hiking, biking, swimming, playing games, etc.)
6. Buy used furniture. When we were young all of our furniture was used. We didn’t buy new until we could afford new. We didn’t buy new until the old was worn out. It’s easier than ever to buy used furniture. Also you can purchase dented or scratched appliances for a discounted price.
7. Technology. Give up “needing” the extra gadget! If you have bills to pay you don’t need to upgrade your cell phone, your computer, television etc. There will always be a better this and greater that. Purchasing and upgrading to the latest and greatest is a quick way to more debt! Live with what you have until it’s worn out.
8. Pay no attention to ads. Cancel the catalogs you receive in the mail. Watch less television. Eliminate fashion and beauty magazines. It will stop the temptation to buy more.
9. Eliminate late fees. Pay your credit cards off as quickly as possible. Pay your bills on time. Take your rentals back on time. Learn to take 100% responsibility for your finances.
10. Calcualte the real cost. Before purchasing those designer jeans figure out how many hours you will work to pay for them after taxes. Will you have to work one, five or eight hours to pay for them?
11. Educate yourself on money. Read all you can, listen to CD’s in your car, and talk to those who know more than you do about money. You can become your own financial advisor.
These are simple steps to help get you started. Never give up on yourself or your future. Be committed. You have a new way of life ahead of you. It doesn’t get much better than that!