The news is bad, very bad. The stock market continues to crumble and banks continue to fail. The question you have is, “What’s gong to happen to me?”
What happens to you depends on what you are willing to do now. The first thing you should do is decide to save money. For most people saving money is only possible by cutting expenses. The economy is going to force most companies to cut back on costs and if major corporations have to do this, you should as well.
Jobs are in decline in the United States. No need to blame any political party. Blaming someone isn’t going to keep you with a roof over your head and off welfare. Your financial future is in your hands.
Here are a list of things you can do today to save money and put yourself in better shape to endure the financial storm that is coming your way.
- Cut back on eating out
The average person eats ninety meals per month. Those who eat out twenty-five times a month are spending at least one $125.00 if you figure five dollars per meal from the value menu. If you are one who frequents the more trendy restaurants you can triple that amount. And, for two people double that amount. It is easy to see that a large portion of your income is going to eating out. Say, in the neighborhood of four hundred dollars a month. The best way to save money is to eat at home even if you buy more expensive cuts of meat.
- Reduce your cable selection
Do you ever watch HBO? Really? Those movie channels and all those sports channels generate huge profits for the cable and satellite companies while draining your checking account. Yes, it is a status thing to have those channels but is TV status that important. Save at least twenty-five bucks a month by going basic.
- Plan your trips
Most of your gas expense is in short trips. Keep a record for one week of how many times you get in the car and go someplace other than to work. If your car is average it gets about twenty miles to the gallon. But, you are in the driveway adjusting the seatbelt, tuning the radio, changing cd’s and the engine is running. There are stop signs, traffic lights and school buses. How long does it take to find a parking place? These things add up and drink gas. If you can cut the number of trips you say a great deal of gas. As much as a tank full a month.
- Use your cell phone less
The minutes really add up in a hurry but you already know this. There is talk of doubling the rate for texting. The worst part of cell phones is you don’t know what it costs you until the end of the month when the bill comes. After you pay it you forget it and continue to use minutes like you did the month before. Get control over your talking and texting and save twenty bucks a month.
- Don’t pay for services
Do you really need a cleaning service or are you just lazy? How about pest control? Security alarms? Baby-sitting? Dog walking? Pet grooming? Look at your bills and decide if you really need those services. Money doesn’t grow on trees and if you are using credit cards to cover the holes then you are on a sinking ship. If you are like so many and claim to be bored most of the time then get rid of the services, save money and have things to do.
- Watch your tipping
Eating out is expensive and then you add the fifteen per cent tip. Tipping is not an obligation; it is a reward for better than average service. Your mailman, paperboy and any other person you tip is getting paid. Your tip doesn’t have to be fifteen percent; it has to be what you deem the extra special service they render is worth to you.
- Drink tap water
Who is going to know if that expensive labeled water isn’t a refill from our tap? By buying one of the screw-on tap filters you can have safe, clean water and save money.
- Turn off your computer
The average desktop computer eats electricity like a fat man eats move popcorn. Leaving your computer on 24/7 is giving away money. Just by cutting the computer off while you are at work and at night while you sleep you can save twenty bucks a month.
- Unplug unnecessary electrical gadgets
Standby doesn’t mean it isn’t using juice. Tour your apartment or home and see how many things are plugged up. The printer, the alarm clock, the surroundsound, the microwave, the cordless phone… Each uses electricity even when not in use. “Not much!” You say but after counting all those items can’t you see that altogether they are consuming a great deal? Pull the plug when not in use and slow the electrical meter to a crawl.
- Dial back on hot water
If you live in a house you have control over the hot water. There is a small panel on most hot water heaters that can be accessed by removing one screw. Inside is a dial that sets the temperature. Lowering it to 110 degrees is plenty warm for most everything you want to do. Leaving it at 180 or 160 more than doubles the cost of hot water.
- Don’t use your debit or credit cards
The best way to save money is not to give it away. Credit cards are manna from heaven for the banks. Unless you are bleeding to death don’t use that card. Put your debit card away too! Yes, it is handy – way too handy. You buy things you don’t need for prices you haven’t considered. If you really, really want to save a chunk of change don’t carry credit cards or debit cards on your person. Carry cash! Most people know where they are going and what they are going to be doing. If money is required get the cash. With a cash only system of daily living you will cut back on spending.
- Cancel unused gym memberships
You should be working out but you aren’t. Every week at least once you say, “I’ve got to get to the gym” but you don’t go. That thirty-five to fifty buck membership is getting you nothing. Cancel it and get a jump rope, hand weights or bowflex. Stop throwing money away on “I should”.
- Only wash whole loads of laundry
In real estate it is “Location, location, location”. In the home it is “hot water, hot water, hot water”. The more you wash the more it costs when you are doing half-loads or one item washing. If you insist on so many loads at least use cold water. If you must use hot don’t turn it on until it’s full.
- Time your showers
Three minutes is ample time for a guy to hit the shower. Five for a woman. Don’t ask me why it takes women longer. Point is a twenty-minute shower is a coal miner’s delight, the meter really winds out. Buy a small windup kitchen timer and at least set it for five minutes. The average shower pumps 2.2 gallons a minute. A twenty-minute shower is 40 gallons of water of which at least twenty is hot. A twenty-minute shower is roughly $2.00 in electricity. Thirty showers a month is about $60.00.
- Carry your lunch
As kid you ate lots of peanut butter and jelly. Not exactly a Rueben or a Philly-steak which you pay at least six bucks to get. It is all but impossible to eat lunch for under three dollars. If you do then there are those snacks at three. Keep a record for one week what you spend for food between 8 am and 5 pm. Put in all of it from crackers and soda to the payday Friday lunch out with friends. Doesn’t peanut butter and jelly look appealing at least two days a week? The average person will spend seven dollars a day or $140. a month.
Rule # 1 – Don’t spend if you don’t have to spend it. Money supplies are getting tighter, credit is getting more expensive, inflation is rising and jobs are being lost. Companies are downsizing and you should downsize before you lose it all.