Times are tough for everyone from college students to real life adults in this economy, so I thought I would try to put together some info for those of us who still want to live on a low budget! I happen to be an expert in this, not because of how good I am with money, but because of how bad I’ve been with money! Over time, I developed some terrible habits with credit cards, loans, overspending and no discipline. Hopefully my mistakes will help you! This article will be broken up into several parts because there is a bunch of info, but very little attention span among our group!
I keep hearing all these get rich quick ads and debt management solutions on the TV and radio. There are really only two keys to surviving a financial storm. Spend less and make more! I know, I know, you are thinking, “No Kidding Einstein”, but, its the simple advice that tends to work and its taken for granted. Lets start with the hardest one, Spend less…
1. Kill the Credit Cards. No matter how much you think you need them for emergencies, you are only feeding an addiction. Each dollar spent on a credit card will cost you many times more than that. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn over and over and over… Please look around at the credit mess the country is in and stop the madness as Susan Powter or Billy Mays would yell.
2.Have a Stay-cation. This is a vacation where you stay home. It may sound lame at first, but I recently did it and found that I have created such life for myself at home that I had plenty to do and enjoy in my house. I have a community pool to lay out at, a spa of a gym, a mac book, which is good for hours of entertainment, a keyboard, books, 90 channels of cable, and a great dog to play with. I spent less money on my stay-cation as I cooked every meal. It was amazing! I highly recommend this
3. Shop Smart. In a time of financial stress, we often begin looking for bargains, but sometimes we don’t look hard enough. Do you clip coupons? I don’t. Frankly, it is a lot of work and if its gets down to that I will. Also, coupons are available on line. I do however buy generic brands whenever I can. Brand Name Groceries are rarely worth the extra dollars you are paying for. That extra money is used for the marketing and packaging. Store brand groceries can be just as good and save you tons! Plan ahead before you go shopping so you don’t end up buying more than you need and you will save big time. Another great tip is buying in bulk. This can be expensive up front, but think about how long 100 rolls of toilet paper can last, if you can store it. If you have an Apple Iphone, you can download an application to help you shop smarter. Scan the barcode and find out where you can buy the item for less. That alone may be worth the cost of the iphone…. maybe.
4. Unplug the appliances. Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These “phantom” costs occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as dvd players, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
5. Drive Smart! Combine errands into one trip. Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3%. Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks. Clear out your car; extra weight decreases gas mileage. Use air conditioning only when necessary and when you do, keep the windows closed. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas. Drive Safely: Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking) wastes gas. It can lower your highway gas mileage 33% and city mileage 5%.
6. Eat Smart. Eating at home can save you loads of money. Carrying your lunch to school or work is the new trend anyway, but you have to make it yourself. And what about your coffee? As my friend Brandi says, “Well, you can either spend $8 on 1lb of coffee which will last 2 weeks, or $3 per cup at Starbucks. When you average it out, you spend over $700 more on coffee if you buy from Starbucks on a regular basis!”
Look for other creative ways to spend less and let me know what you find!
Coming next in part two: “How to make more money”