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Bailing Yourself Out
Whether you are a victim of the credit crunch or just haven't been paying close attention to your finances, now is the time to regain control of your financial life. If there's anything to learn from the messy state of the economy its that we have to be prepared as individuals to ride the bucking bronco of the market no matter where it throws us.
So, be done drowning your sorrows! By taking action and committing to a more frugal lifestyle, you can hang on to what you have and feel like you're still living your life well. By the way, living frugally doesn't mean ramen noodles every night in front of network TV because you can't afford cable (though, come to think of it, cutting out cable might not be the worst idea ever.) This is just about making choices that will "bail you out" if you're struggling to make ends meet between paychecks.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Make do with what you have. Do you really "need" new boots and jackets this season, or can you still wear last fall's looks? Is there a way to update them with a new scarf, buttons or other accessories? Scour flea markets, resale shops and stoop sales for things to make your old things new again. And remember...no one is looking at you and saying "That's soooo last season." We promise.
2. Just say no. To going out, that is. If you've got $25 budgeted for the week's activities, don't blow it on impromptu drinks after work on Monday! You'll find yourself overspending because you don't want to bail on the things you've already planned. Another way to get through unexpected expenses is to say yes to hanging out, and no to spending. So when those aforementioned drinks are offered, say yes and leave your wallet behind, or offer an alternative free or low-cost activity.
3. Eat at home. It seems like a no-brainer, but going out to eat at lunch and dinner will wreck your finances. Stock up on groceries Sunday, pre-make some meals and snacks. If you're prepared and know there's food at home, you're less likely to order in, pick up take-out or go to dinner. Miss the social aspect of a shared meal? Invite friends over for a potluck dinner—keep the menu simple and light, and ask that everyone contribute a little something.
What have you been doing to keep personal finances on track? Share your frugal living tips with us!