This is a guest article by Rick. If you are interested in contributing to Debt RoundUp, please follow our guidelines.
In case you hadn’t noticed, times are tight today. The economy has been sluggish for the last few years and recently shows only moderate signs of recovery. Job markets also have not improved at the pace that will put economic recovery on the fast track. Lots of people have begun to search for ways to make ends meet by making simple lifestyle changes. Creative spendthrifts have found many ways to trim the fat, but also know how to make the most of their savings.
Most people that sit down and take a hard look at their budget with a list of income and expenditures can quickly find places to save by cutting down or cutting out a few key items. Often, these optional expenditures are similar across households. Transportation is a necessity; everyone need to get where they’re going, but the price of individual transportation in a personal automobile has gone up dramatically as fuel prices continue to rise. Many large cities now sponsor and directly develop urban bike programs to offer commuters a viable alternative. Bus and rail lines sometimes provide cheap and environmentally friendly alternatives and for the truly cost conscious, strolling on foot is not only good for the pocketbook, it is great exercise.
Another reducible expenditure that impacts almost every family is the cost of food. Fast food and restaurants should be considered off limits when trying to reduce a monthly budget. It is always cheaper to pack a lunch, to cook dinner at home, to hold the burger and skip the fries. If you need the morning coffee, find the time to brew it at home, and save the Starbucks for another time. Items like these are great but we pay a premium for the convenience. Once again, an added benefit to avoiding easy restaurant fare is that a home cooked meal is almost always healthier than a fast option on the road.
Sometimes there is only so far you can go by cutting out items from a budget. The next place to look for creative ways to save for the future is by looking at what you already have (or will have) saved. Money that sits in a low interest or no interest bank account may actually be losing value due to inflation and certainly does little good as an investment. While it’s nice to have a small nest egg to buffer against hard times, savvy savers know to look for a high interest savings account to actually grow what they have earned. Times may indeed be tight, but for those on the edge; often all it takes is a little restraint, a good look at a budget and some clever saving to move the red back to the black.
Rick is an Australian content writer who currently writes on behalf of RAMS.
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net