Guest Post by Sally Shaws
The ever-changing state of the financial markets is making life tough for the everyday person. It wasn’t always like this. When our parents and grandparents where young – pre 1980’s – the money you earned was the money you had and if you wanted more, you had to go out and make it. Then the 1980’s happened and living within your means became very unfashionable. Credit was the thing to have and today many families, couples and single people are caught in financial difficulties that seem to have no end. So, how do you manage your finances in this tumultuous world?
Live Below your Means
This is probably the most obvious piece of advice for those seeking financial health; don’t spend what you don’t have. It’s also one of the most ignored. Why is that?
We’re surrounded by advertising. It’s visual, aural, it’s done by our friends, as well as large corporations. Whether it’s the shirt on your friends back, an image on a billboard, or an offer broadcast on the radio, we have been conditioned to respond to advertising by going to buy something.
Buying stuff is really easy. Where are the shops? In the neighbourhood in which you live; they are on your computer/tablet/smartphone – they are in your pocket. So, it’s really easy to be tempted by something and think ‘I’ll put that on my credit card.’ Living within our means is tough when you are confronted with shiny, colourful, practical, yet beautiful items every minute of the day.
How do you combat this?
You have to make a firm commitment to staying within your earnings and not get seduced by the idea of a better home/TV/car/computer/holiday… whatever it might be that causes us to take out loans that sometimes we cannot repay.
Find Ways to Boost your Income
Putting your bank balance in the black, rather than the red will help you to feel like living within your means is possible. Taking a second job, or starting a part-time business can help increase your earnings over time.
Do you have a skill that could solve a problem for someone else? Can you build websites; fix things in the house; walk peoples dogs; shop for the elderly; help people understand how to use technology? These are just ideas. Look around your community and ask what can you do that will help someone else out and make you some cash?
Follow a Budget
Breakdown everything you need to live. Put it in a spreadsheet so that you can see what you need for food, accommodation, entertainment, etc, every month. Put the excess in another account. Separate the money you need for living and the money you have for luxuries. That way, when you’re faced with an item you really want to buy, or a trip you really want to take, the money you have saved can be used for that, rather than the money needed for everyday living.
Take Advantage of Sales and Coupons
This can be a lot of fun! Hunting through newspapers and magazines for coupons that give you money off a luxury item, or a favoured brand is really satisfying. You’re also practicing the same behaviours needed for saving. There are also several smartphone and tablet apps offering discount codes for clothing retailers, restaurants, even amusements parts and museums.
We don’t know what the future will hold financially. It could be a better job, your own business; something that leads to your success. Whatever you’re hoping for, good financial habits, while they’re not hip, will reduce your stress and free you up to concentrate on life.
Contributed by Sally Shaws, who is keen on money saving with special coupon and discount offers. She regularly blogs about money making ideas and is always looking for ways to boost your finances. She also writes about volunteering for medical trials as another means of raising income.