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For those of you with money, concerns about that money's worth in the days ahead are well founded. By now it's common knowledge that our nation's titanic-size debt, as well as several other factors, put the U.S. dollar in dangerous territory. Nations like China -- who may one day decide to cash in on the enormous amount of U.S. debt they have purchased into -- are currently keeping us afloat.
But it's like a Chinese boy visiting Holland and putting his finger in a small hole in a dike to prevent a flood from wiping out the land. Just how long is this "little boy" going to keep his finger in the dike?
1. Start Living FrugallyThe first step to getting control of your money is to look at the things you purchase each week, making a list of each and every item (food, beverages, etc.), and then crossing out every thing that you could actually survive without.
If you look at your bank statement for the previous month, you may see a handful of purchases for $3 - $10 at your local gas station and convenience stores. For some of you this may easily add up to $100 - $150 per month.
"Convenience" is the drain on your wallet in this case. Stop buying food and convenience beverages on the go. Just stop. Money saved: $100 - $150.
2. Can You Bring Home More Bacon?It's important to say early on in this article that while dwindling finances can motivate us to change a lifetime of poor spending habits, we should also consider additional ways that can start bringing in more money, residually. Did you know that a YouTube video could earn you $1,000 or more a month, with enough views? Do-It-Yourself videos are a popular draw nowadays. Your first Do-It-Yourself video may lack some luster, but in time you may finally get the formula right for creating a video that draws views and passes on compelling instruction.
Or did you know that there are a lot more opportunities to work from home, some that can apparently generate a significant income in time? Opportunities like the carbon credit business are promising. In essence, you can build a business helping companies in the modern world "go green", earning these companies tax breaks, etc. So, essentially you're a paid consultant.
Helping people receive cash advances when they are low on money and between paychecks is another way to generate income.
For those of you who spend a lot of time on social media, here's an opportunity to build a business. Fact is in a down economy there are a lot of people in need of a pay day loan (a pay day loan can be a good thing for a person without a support network in a financial crunch; use it once, maybe twice, and hopefully by then you'll have control of your spending; a pay day loan becomes a dangerous financial plague if a person becomes dependent on it).
Your first effort though should be to avoid taking on new debt. No loans. No credit lines.
So a "cash advance" is a last resort option; use it only in a time of real emergency; for example, you're about to lose your home or apartment or sole vehicle.
3. Stop Going OutRecapping what's been said up above, you need to start thinking frugally, and should consider new ways to bring in more income.
You also need to be willing to make a few sacrifices.
For some of you, this is like the world coming to an end. But really there is life outside of the social scene, the weekend bars and nightclubs or restaurant outings that drain wallet's of $100 - $200 every weekend. Some of you in some states may be spending even more in casinos.
So how do you redirect this energy that drives you every week to head to the bars or casinos with your friends? Choosing a new hobby is a great way to redirect this energy. Fitness, for example, and the many reasons to be fit. Many people who pursue fitness in fact willingly choose to forsake the bars and drinking for the sake of trimming body fat and getting their health in order. A dedicated Saturday and Sunday workout routine can help you break the chains that pull you toward the bars and / or casinos where so much of your income may be going currently.
Or there's also this: Life in the great outdoors. We're talking hiking, camping, fishing, or canoing/kayaking, as just a few examples. Each of these can be a drain on wallets though, but do you really have to shop at high-end sporting good stores when there is plenty of great second-hand equipment in the world being sold on sites like Craigslist or in local thrift stores?
If you look hard enough, and talk to people experienced in any recreational pursuits outdoors, you can find ways to keep costs down, way down.
Like to make the occasional trip to see a new movie in theaters? Some theaters have 9:30 - 10:30am matinee times at reduced prices, lower than a typical mid-day matinee cost. Skip on the soda and treats and you've just saved yourself quite a bit of money.
4. The Groceries You BuyYour local grocery store down the street may have higher prices than a bigger store like Wal-Mart or even Target (those that sell groceries nowadays). Big box stores in the business of selling groceries nowadays are saving families money. You may have to drive a few miles of your area, if one isn't handy, so buy enough groceries to last 2 - 3 weeks and it should be well-worth the trip.
Invest in an additional freezer, and buy certain foods in bulk that you can freeze.
5. The Foods You EatWe've had it ingrained into our heads that a healthy adult needs 2400 calories a day approximately. I've learned a lot about health over the years and laugh when I hear this number (earlier in life sports pursuits, injuries that came from sports, and even a couple places I worked in my early 20s fueled nutritional studies, including studies of people alive and in optimal health in other parts of the world). You know what? There's a good chance that you can live off 1000 - 1200 calories a day and be in the best health of your life. That's half of the calories that are pitched by some people as being necessary to a healthy life. I think all 2400 calories a day are going to guarantee is a life-long concern about carrying around extra pounds.
Think about what's being said here. You can save a lot of money on a typical grocery bill by cutting calories and ridding your daily diet of junk foods. If you have a sugar tooth at the least discipline yourself to go Monday - Friday without the treats, leaving them as a small reward (keyword is small) on the weekends. Most Americans who embrace this for the first time are going to start saving money -- money that adds up week after week.
You will also lose weight and keep it off, especially with a moderate exercise program.
6. Sell the SUVEvery day I see people in my area jumping in their vehicles and heading off to work -- 20 to 30 miles away I'm sure for many of them.
Regarding transportation, this is a tougher area to save money on initially. Most of us need to work and that means we have career needs.
But, the fact is, with some brainstorming and goal setting (and prayers to God for new doors to open in your life), you may find work right in your own community, without having to make that daily commute in traffic that drives up what you pay each month in fuel.
The self-employed who work from home (and there are a lot nowadays) have already experienced the cost-saving benefits of not having a daily commute to work.
Position your life and where you live to remove that commute, or lessen it, as much as possible.
Also, if you have to commute and there's just no way around it, get rid of the gas guzzler. Get a vehicle that gets great gas mileage. Corporate America wants you to think though that you need a nice SUV to feel good about yourself, but the fact is YOU DON'T -- get that out of your head. Buy something a few years old, that gets great gas mileage, and PAY CASH for it.
Stop buying vehicles -- or anything for that matter -- on credit. As much as possible, stop taking on debt.
Now, you may not be able to fix this area of your life immediately but if you start taking steps some of you can probably get there within a months. When you do you will see the savings these changes bring into your life. As long as you keep yourself in a humble area of paying cash for less than new vehicles that get great mileage, you will be far ahead of the pack, that is spending large amounts of money annually on transportation.
7. Buy Clothes at Thrift StoresDo you want to save money? Do you need to save money? Stop shopping at the expensive malls and other stores for your wears. Most cities have thrift stores nowadays, and these thrift stores typically carry donated goods that come in from people within their own community. Here's a tip for finding clothing that may fit your personal style better: On a map, which cities in your state have the most well-to-do families? Shop those thrift stores if "style" is important to you, as it is to many. These are the thrift stores you may be more likely to find clothing that's been donated that has not been worn much and is brand-name, yet is now being sold at thrift store prices.
8. Shaky Dollar - Invest in GoldI'm someone on the outside looking in, and just proposing as a possibility what several financial advisers have suggested over the years, and even more so in recent years. If you're concerned about a possible collapse of the dollar, gold may be a way to protect your savings. Of course who knows just what is going to happen in the days to come to our current economy, and even to gold markets.
I personally believe in giving to charity, charities that actually have a heart and great track record of caring for the poor (so do your homework before you start giving to a charity).
Regarding investing and saving up wealth, the Bible warns about God's wrath on people who store up riches for themselves "without being rich toward God". Tip: Be rich toward God. Give to the poor and needy. In return God can bless your wealth and career -- though not all of his blessings are financial.
Sometimes for God to truly bless us he needs to strip the idols from our lives first -- for many of us a big idol in our life that prevents us from really knowing God is the pursuit of money. So manage your money. Don't be driven by it.
9. Save Money on UtilitiesCable / dish - Start by calling the cable company. Drop excess channel package plans, even if that means cutting back on television. Switch to a new cable or satellite provider.
Here's a suggestion that may shock several readers. If you're married, and both own cell phones, one of you turn off your mobile phone (saving $50 - $100 per month). Cell phones are an incredible convenience but the fact is life moved just fine in the 1980s and earlier, before cell phones appeared everywhere.
Do you need a $400 phone? There are plenty of great $30 phones out there.
Heat / Power - Look at your heating bill. What can you do to trim $80 - $100 per month in what you're paying for heat? Turn back your thermostat a few degrees and during the winter months wear long sleeve shirts and pants around the house. Shorts and t-shirts are for summer. Finally, for extreme heat savings, another way to save money is to turn your thermostat down to something as low as 58 degrees and then invest in low-cost, portable oil-based electric heaters. They're designed to heat small areas. Use one in your living room, one in a bedroom, and one in a dining room. Only turn them on during times you're actually at home and then turn them off at night. These are extreme steps to take for some of you but you may shock yourself to see how much money you're saving on heat by embracing a lifestyle of "conservation".
Take shorter showers.
Turn down your water heater from 140 degrees (said to be standard for many water heaters) to 120 degrees. One caution though: It is reported that people with a compromised immune system shouldn't take this step as sometimes bacteria can appear in a water heater kept at only 120 degrees. Healthy people are said to be at little or no risk though of being effected by this bacteria and can take this step).
As an additional step, turn off non-essential electrical devices otherwise left on around the clock, each adding up on your daily energy used. It all adds up. Each one you can keep off helps keeps the total bill down.
Lighting - Invest in energy saving light bulbs. Use these lights everywhere in your home that calls for light, including patio lights.
10. Negotiate Lower Payments with Creditors, IRSDuring tough financial times, be up front with your creditors and even the IRS, letting them know about how little you have to work with, and how bleak things are at home presently. Be honest and sincere, and patient, with whatever customer service representatives you have on the phone. Request a lower monthly payment. A lot lower. In regards to the IRS, you may have to prove how much you're bringing in before they'll work with you, but do know this -- they're likely to work with you, if you can show them what you're bringing in and what your expenses are.
If you're self employed, keep up on those estimated tax payments. A lot of self employed people fall into tax debt for failing to make estimated tax payments. Though the IRS asks for these quarterly (typically), enrolling for automatic debits through the EFTPS.gov website means you can make an estimated tax payment everytime you receive income through your business, making it easier to ensure those payments are being made on time. If you're not sure what your estimated tax payments should be, learn learn how to estimate your taxes.
11. Be Smart About Your PrepsWe know a lot of our readers are concerned about the state of the current world affairs. A lot of people are preparing for a collapse of the American economy for several reasons, a few stated early in this article. Bible-believing Christians predict that they end of all things is now at hand -- and that finally, in history, Christ really is not far away from returning. It would be a lie not to report that this is a popular belief even if it's ridiculed by people.
Fundamentalist Islam believes that the end of all things is also at hand -- fueling the growth of Radical Islam and its belief that it's their destiny for Islam to rule the world. America finds itself now in the crosshairs of radicalized Islamic believers who desire to let loose a flood of terrorist attacks because of their religious beliefs and fervor. I laugh when I hear people call this fear mongering. I'm just repeating what is well publicized about the Islamic threat. Simply put, it's not going away.
For multiple reasons, a lot of people are "prepping" today: They're stocking up on food and even learning ways for growing food right at home. Several industries have arisen today to support the "prepper" market. Some people could probably save quite a bit of money on preps with some smart, frugal spending.
12. Stop Spending MoneyThis is the obvious step to take. Often though we simply can't stop spending money. There's always something else that pops up. Especially with families. But look what happens when you simply run out of money. You stop spending. Purchases you felt compelled to make suddenly get delayed or put off or forgotten completely. And the world still goes around. You wake up to see another day. The world hasn't come to an end simply because you're broke that day and have no money to spend.
STOP -- don't reach for the phone and call the first person that comes to mind (which might be your parents or a friend) to borrow money. Get creative and figure out ways to live your life without that money that you have become so driven by all your life. Learn to adapt to life without money to spend.
Learning how to live frugally today can help you be better prepared mentally for living during a time of severe economic hardship, and that might be in the months or years just ahead. Figure that out now so you'll be better ready to survive when it happens.
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