If you don’t have a savings account, you’re going to need it more than ever. Many banks will let you open one with only a few dollars as deposit. And once you’ve opened it, try adding a little bit here and there. And don’t stop your saving habit at the bank. Start a coin jar and add your leftover change to it. Over time it adds up. The more money in it, the more interest it will earn, too. Roll it and cash it in, and add that cash to your savings account. If you think you’ve earned a reward for your disciplined savings, look for a deal on eating out or see a movie.
Knowledge is power, so sit down and work out your budget. Write down your monthly expenses, including utility bills, rent, food and gas. Focus on your needs, not your wants. Make sure your paychecks can cover these expenses. If not, see where you can cut corners. Call your utility companies and ask about their budget plans, which can reduce your bill to one flat rate you can pay each month. See if you can downgrade your cell phone plan or switch providers for a better deal. Look into reducing your energy use at home. If high gas prices are hurting you, try walking, taking public transportation, or carpooling to work.
People who live frugally strive to never pay full price for anything, and it’s a smart thing to do. Clip coupons and combine them with sales at the grocery store, and sign up for the store’s loyalty card. Look for one that offers discounts on gas. Take advantage of after-holiday sales for deals on seasonal items. Check out your local dollar store for deals. Scope out local yard sales and second hand shops, and vow above all else, to pay nothing less than sale price.
Besides student loan debt, Americans are also being crushed by credit card debt. If you’re lucky enough to not have credit card debt, try to keep it that way, especially if you know you can’t afford the monthly payments. Save your credit cards for emergencies only. If you don’t yet have a credit card and want to get one, do your research. Pick one with the lowest Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and doesn’t require any fees. If you currently have credit card debt, call and ask for a reduced APR to lower your payments. Over half of people who ask do get it lowered. Then you can research strategies for dealing with the debt if it still feels too much for you to handle.
The recession isn’t easy on anyone. But if you want to improve your finances, get out of debt, and learn money-saving skills that you can employ for life, and then apply the advice in this article. Your wallet will thank you.