Times are hard, jobs are scarce and incomes have dwindled; yet you still have to pay your debt, fend for your family and meet other financial obligations. It’s almost impossible to stay sane trying to sail through these troubled financial times. Fortunately, there are some helpful ways that you can adjust your lifestyle and live happily on limited income. There’s one catch though; sacrifice. If you’re going to take back charge of your life, you’re going to have to make huge sacrifices. You’ve got to be willing to change your lifestyle appropriately so as to remain successful even when the tidal wave of financial hardship is at its highest.
1. Essential vs. Luxury
Determine what’s essential and what’s not. There are just too many unnecessary expenses we ignorantly live with, for instance, do you really need to pay for over 50 cable channels? Do you really have to tie yourself up in debt by taking out an auto loan to buy a new car? How about the exorbitant cell phone plan, or the long summer vacation, not to mention the Christmas spending spree. List down all your expenses and decide with your partner what is essential and what you can do without, at least until you have surplus income. This is where you’re going to make huge sacrifices.
2. Prioritize Your Allocations
When you cut out the luxuries, you will free up some money that you should then use to reduce your debt. An average American is financing at least one type of debt at any given time. Make a list of all your financial obligations in detail – monthly installment, interest due, outstanding balance and the creditor. Decide on which debts to clear first; some people feel that it’s easier to clear the smaller debts first, then embark on the larger one, while others prefer to throw the bigger debt out of the gate then deal with the minor ones later. One thing you’ll want to avoid like the plague is accruing interest on your credit card, which can exceed 20 percent. Make sure to clearing your monthly credit card bill makes the top of the list. If you don’t have the discipline to keep a zero balance, do away with the credit card and adjust accordingly.
3. Shop Wisely
Whatever you buy should define what is important to you. Sadly, many people’s choices are based more on fantasy than reason. Many of the product promotions are nothing more than marketing gimmicks, thus, a product may be unjustifiably overpriced simply because of the clever packaging and promotion techniques that serve to veil it in aura. You should also beware of aggressively marketed products. When buying products like skin care, packed food or supplements, look at the ingredient label, not the packaging.
4. Live a Frugal Life
On top of the expense cuts you must make, make it a point to seek more frugal ways of living. There are lots of resources that can teach you how to live comfortably with limited resources. The Simple Dollar is a great place to start. Many people make a big mistake of trying to make drastic changes over night, which backfires most of the time. Instead, develop small good habits and integrate them into your lifestyle one day at a time. It really starts with the small things at home, such as minding the way you use energy and water. Avoid wastefulness and use cheaper alternatives where possible. If you can ride a bike instead of driving, you’ll find that you save a lot on gas at the end of the year, and eventually realize financial freedom.
Unless you’re extremely well off, chances are you’re prone to any financial debacle that hits the country. Thus, you need to adequately prepare for such times but unfortunately, many people wait until it’s too late. Try out some of these tips to try to trim your expenses. Keep in mind that they may not work perfectly for everyone’s circumstances, but it’s somewhere to start, and starting is always the biggest step.
Guest Post: This post was provided by Adam Jacob of FrugalDad.com; a site that offers personal saving tips and frugal living advice. Check out their Amazon page for their recent article, “8 Things You’re Not Using on Amazon – but Should Be”.
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