The bad news about the economic instability of our economy as well as those of other countries continues. Scary stuff, and it can make you feel pretty helpless. But there are things you can do.
First off, stop spending money on things you don’t absolutely need and try to save money wherever you can. I know many people believe that in times like these, you should spend today’s dollars because they’ll be worth less tomorrow. Beans! There’s nothing like the feeling of having money set aside for a rainy day.
Here are a few ways to save right now:
Pay for necessities with cash and put the change in a jar.
Take the amount you save by using coupons and put that in a jar.
Brown-bag it and put the money you would have spent for drive-up fast food in a jar.
Skip the Starbucks and put that money in a jar.
Pretty soon you should have a nice, full jar. Now, start with a new jar. In the past, I would have suggested you take that full jar to the bank and deposit it. But I’m thinking it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand at home. There are some shaky banks out there (check yours here), and it sure wouldn’t hurt to keep some of your money nearby….like in your house.
Today at the grocery I made a major killing. I spent $25 and my receipt showed I saved $28. Of course, that’s money saved off of full price, which I almost never pay. But it’s still savings. Shopping the sales combined with using coupons is always wise.
Buying in quantity when on sale is another no-brainer. I now have three 32-oz. jars of Miracle Whip Light in the house. At 99 cents each, they were a great deal. They’ll keep for a while, so I don’t mind having a few extra. I use them for homemade potato, tuna or egg salads, which are far cheaper homemade than what they cost at the grocery store deli counter.
Homemade….that’s another thing you can do in these unstable times. Make your own meals! You pay so much more for take-out, and plenty just for prepared foods and mixes. Case in point: the guy ahead of me in line at the grocery was buying a dinky container of seafood salad (surimi and pasta with dressing). The little one-pound container had a deli label on it that said $5.94. Good grief! You can easily make a huge batch of that stuff for less than $5, especially when you’ve got the items waiting for you in your pantry and fridge since you bought them on sale. A box of pasta for 69 cents, some ranch dressing mixed with mayo (maybe $1 worth) and a package of Crab Delights on sale for $1.50 (and even cheaper if you buy the store brand), plus a little diced celery….what does that total, maybe $3.50? And you’ll have enough to feed eight people.
Yet another thing you can do to save money: Don’t put anything on your credit card unless you can absolutely, definitely pay it off at the end of the month (credit card interest is a tax on spendthrifts!) Why even bother buying things on sale if you’re going to put that 14-25% tax on it? Ditto for buying furniture on time….no payments until 2010! Big deal…that’s how they rope you in, and later on you learn the interest has been piling up all that time, waiting for that first payment two years down the road. Don’t do it! If you must have furniture, if it’s a real need (not a want!), buy it used. Better yet, put out the word among family and friends that you need a new table or sofa, and maybe you’ll get a freebie. This is no time to be dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on new stuff.
If you’re like me and you live a no debt/cash only lifestyle, be patient. Before long, overextended people will put their plasma tv’s and leather sofas on Craig’s List for next to nothing, because it’s going to be the only way they can raise cash. Their credit is tapped out and they need some money. The signs are already there. I’ve been looking at fifth wheel RV’s and there are some great deals out there!
Those are just a few areas where you can save money. There are many more. Go to the library and find yourself some books on saving money. If nothing else, use interlibrary loan to snag some of the classics written during the recession of the early 1980s, or one of Amy Dacyczyn’s books of the 90s (they all have “Tightwad Gazette” in their titles.)*
The more techniques you learn for saving money, the more empowered you’ll be, and the bad financial news we’re hearing on a daily basis these days won’t be quite so scary. This is not the time to sit in the corner and whimper. It’s time to take action!
* In case your library can’t get them for you, here’s Amy’s wonderful book plus some more that will help you: