If you’re in a career transition with limited financial reserves or up to your neck in alligators from overspending, run to, not from the problem. The longer you carry this issue around the heavier it will get. Choose to implement all of the action items below to immediately reduce your spending. Better yet, make it a game to see how low you can get your expenses…you just might find that less is more.
Eliminate your cell phone and shop around for a long distance carrier with a low rate per minute and no monthly fee.
Cancel newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. Everything you need is free at the library, accessible via the internet, or on television.
Turn down the thermostat, use energy efficient lamps in fixtures, turn off the lights when you leave a room, ask your local utility companies about budget billing, and review the many other energy and money saving tips listed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
If you’re employed, ask if your employer offers a Section 125 Plan or Flexible Spending Program. If so, enroll in the plan as soon as possible to pay your health premium, health expenses and dependent care expenses (if applicable) with pre-tax dollars.
Purchase generic prescriptions when possible and obtain the best price by calling and comparing prices at local pharmacies, increase your medical coverage deductible, and read and understand your medical plan to be a smart consumer of health care services and save dollars.
6. Stuff in your home
Clean up, organize, and simplify your home environment. Hold a garage sale and fill it with the things you don’t use, don’t have room to display, or can’t access easily. You might also consider selling items on eBay. Another option is donating your items to a charitable organization as your gift may be deductible. Your stuff is someone else’s treasure.
If you’re working – take your lunch, shop at a discount grocery store and buy in bulk, cut out the junk food, avoid purchasing prepackaged meals, and avoid eating dinner out. Have you stopped to think that your daily latte may be costing you $600 per year?
Terminate your gym membership. Try walking, running, hiking, or biking. It’s easier and more convenient to step through your front door and start exercising, plus the fresh air is invigorating.
9. Recreation and fun
Stay home with a good book or rent a video or DVD instead of going to the movie theater. Pop your own popcorn, snuggle up in your favorite chair, and have a fun night at home. As painful as it might be, you could also drop your cable TV.
Money problems are seldom about money but rather emanate from your lifestyle choices. For example, I recently spoke with a small business owner who told me he was in financial trouble and was looking for ideas to save his business. He then mentioned that he was taking his family on vacation next month. He must have felt it necessary to justify his vacation plans because he proceeded to tell me he was taking the vacation in spite of his dire financial situation as it was important to create a positive memory and good time for his kids. I wonder how much he’ll enjoy the vacation when his business is about to tank.
If you’re in financial trouble or see it looming on the horizon, please don’t try to justify spending any more money, cut every expense today and when you’re out of debt start saving and building at least a years worth of financial reserve. It can be done! Good luck.