The current environment of financial uncertainty is reaching everywhere, even when there are stable jobs and good financial situations. Many are concerned that their job can go away or that some future crisis will decimate savings and other financial cushions. The old saying that “we are all only a major medical, a layoff, or a legal problem away from poverty” has much more meaning today.
There are reams of money saving tips on line, the best compilation being held in the About.com Frugal Living pages. The first step for everyone should be to go through those pages to find a host of money saving tips that can work specifically for their situations.
Whether the tips involve beginning coupon strategies or more complicated debt reduction plans, even the most financially stable can find ways to cut costs.
Food, Dry Goods and Staples:
One strategy that works right away is to find the best large discount food chain that has good produce and meats. While some of the discount stores might involve a drive or be in less desirable neighborhoods, they are safe enough to save up to 40 percent on the same quality or even better quality staples, dry goods, fresh produce, dairy and frozen foods. Many discount shoppers make a monthly trip to stock up on food at huge discounts, then will supplement throughout the rest of the month by visiting local or more high end groceries.
Another strategy is to take the discount for fee chains seriously for bulk and special deals. Costco, Sam’s Club and other subscription shopping services can recover several times the annual dues in savings over a year.
There is bad press on Wal Mart. If the idea that Wal Mart employs thousands of people who would otherwise not have a job will help, then Wal Mart stores can offer vast savings over time.
Car Insurance Deductibles:
There is the idea that having a high deductible will save money over the year. But if money is tight and a small claim is for less than the deductible, then where is the money to repair or replace going to come from? For an extra few dollars a month, it might be worth it to go for a lower deductible when replacement or repair costs would zap the budget.
Bloat The Check Amount:
There is one check register that has to be accurate to the penny in order to balance the books each month. But another register can be used to round up to the nearest dollar, five dollars or ten dollars, depending on the size of the purchase.
When checking to see how much is “in” the account in order to make a purchase, use the second register. This can help to stop impulse spending down to the last dollar every month. By doing this, a kind of savings will happen. At the end of the month, the difference can add up and that extra money can be transferred to a savings account.
Go Frugal With Dining Out:
Clark Howard of CNN had a wonderful idea: buy and cook the expensive ingredients at home, then dine out on the cheaper entrees! The joy of dining out can continue while the joy of having expensive dishes, steaks and seafood can go on at home.
Learn to cook! It is not difficult to buy fresh ingredients and to prepare them at home. Facebook Foodiles will help the new cook to share with friends and to build up the skills in no time. Also, a Google alt.usenet group Alt.Cooking-Chat has members who can answer any question that a person can have. The group can be searched by topic, so help with any food issue is just a click away.
Not everything needs to be disposable these days. With some poly acrylic paint, an old, beat up well sanded piece of furniture, a favorite shirt with a few tiny spots, or even some scuffed sports shoes can be turned into decent looking gems again. A ripped blouse or shirt can be sewn up. Shoes can be resoled.
One person (me) even found that a broken Casio Piano key can be repaired by ordering parts and instructions from the company for about $12 US! There is a savings of at least $100 for a new piano. Simply Google or find a Google Group for item “X” and ask! Someone will probably have an answer. This is because personnel from the manufacturers often read the group messages and offer help.
Trade and Barter:
Trade and barter associations can be unscrupulous or they can be very good. Everyone from accountants to dentists to home repair specialists are negotiating free work for each other that builds up dollar amounts for shopping through a catalog of some sort. The best way to check out barter systems is to find some trusted individuals who participate and to ask if they are happy with the program.
Making extra income:
Many people who are low on cash are finding that helping the elderly with their shopping and chores, running errands for busy people and other simple jobs are a good source of interaction and income. Volunteer work has been known to serve as a gateway to employment, especially in part time work. Temporary agencies can keep a skilled worker employed for as long as they want to work, often at the same firm.
But the reality shows that depict finding fortunes in storage auctions, on E-Bay and in other trash-to-treasure fields should be viewed with a critical eye. The ones who make the biggest finds on these heavily edited shows are long time experts who have buyer and appraiser connections and established businesses. The best option is to find items where you are already quite knowledgeable and to try buying cheap and selling high in that category of goods.
Having A Career “Plan B”
This is something that should be on every working person’s mind from here on out. Even if there is a stable job, it does not hurt to invest in getting some credentials or education in a backup field and to stay current with the skills for that area. In case of disability, consider learning or building a plan B career that can be done with decreased lifting and other physical capacities. If the employer has a history of temporary layoffs, some retail skills and recent experience will help to quickly find a good retail job to shore up the finances until the firm is hiring again.
And many a highly successful small business started as a part-time gig! A small business owner can build a loyal and happy customer base while saving or putting some income back into growing the business, since the full time job takes care of the major bills, retirement plan and benefits.