Ways to weather hard financial times.

Budgeting


With the high cost of energy and difficulties in many monetary markets, the world is undergoing quite a bit of financial turmoil these days. The tips below will help you weather the storm. However, these tips are a good idea -- even in times of plenty.


1) Control your spending, especially if itís on plastic. When the economy turns downward, banks reduce credit. Racking up large debt is never a good idea, but is especially bad in hard times. Learn to separate your "wants" from your "needs". Keep your credit open for real emergencies instead of buying that new big screen TV that you donít really need. You will be told via the media to spend to help stimulate the economy. While that may be wonderful for the retail stores and big businesses, going deeper into debt it isnít going to result in you making any more money. You are not going to get a raise to pay your debt and you will be further in debt while making the banks and businesses richer.

2) If you have extra income coming in, use it to pay off current debt. Pay off the highest interest loans first for even more savings. It doesnít get any simpler than this.

3) Save 5-10 percent of your income even if it hurts. Put it in a safe investment and leave it there for the future. You donít need every new gadget that you see. A society that saves is a strong society. A society that spends every penny (and then goes further by borrowing even more) in order to have unnecessary luxury, is one that will eventually collapse.

4) Increase your income outside of your job. Some type of part time or online business is ideal. Everyone has something they can offer whether it be knowledge, advice, services, specialty products you make yourself or thousands of other things. An outside source of income can buffer bad times and in a pinch help cover you if you lose your job. In a lot of cases these small part time business evolve into full time be-your-own-boss companies. Think about what you are good at and what you have knowledge of and figure out a way to leverage that to your benefit. Working on your small business is fun and exciting and a whole lot more profitable than sitting in front of the TV.

5) Look at your recurring monthly bills for overcharges. Whether it be your cable bill, phone bill, subscriptions to games, health clubs, etc...see what you can cut back on. For example, do you really need 500 TV channels? or the top-of-the-line game package? or the largest health club membership? Sometimes even all at the same time? Some of this is probably unused excess. You can lower your costs without noticing any difference in your lifestyle by picking plans and services that match your usage. If you find services you are not using and are getting billed for -- get rid of them.

6) Look at how much you spend eating out every month. Without changing your routine -- for ONE MONTH -- keep all of your receipts for every restaurant, coffee shop, bar, etc that you go to. Then add them up. You will be amazed. Look at ways to reduce this typically huge expense. Perhaps you can eat more meals at home and bring lunch with you to work? Or instead of eating out two or three times a week, only eat out once. This will most likely save you a lot of money and yet still allow you to go out for a drink or dinner on occasion. The net result will be more money in your pocket, with minimal effect on your lifestyle. Itís like giving yourself a raise.

7) Look around your house. How much stuff is sitting there and never used. Do yourself and someone else a favor and sell it. Not only will you make a few dollars and reduce the clutter in your house, but you will give someone else the ability to buy something they may need at a good price. Places to sell include auction sites like eBay and, in many cities, free sites such as Craigís List.

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