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Stretch your dollar during tough times

By on May 17, 2008

photo by benkataro
canned tomatoes
Inflation is causing many people to rethink their priorities. I can’t predict the future, but I don’t have to wait for an official newsflash to know my money isn’t going as far as it used to. Many of my readers seem confident because they’ve been frugal and prepared for years. But what about people who have never experienced job loss, hunger or desperation? Or people who have never practiced frugality? How will they fare?

It saddens me that affording necessities such as food is a real issue for many. There’s often an elitist attitude that there’s an abundance of jobs to be had and families should have thought about money before having multiple children or overspending. There are many situations that cause financial strife that aren’t about being lazy, uneducated, homeless, addicted to drugs or alcohol, entitlement, family size or even a recession. My point is that tough times can happen to anyone at any time. It can happen to you. Being prepared is about more than having an emergency fund in place or getting a lock for your gas cap. Preparation is about protecting yourself and survival. There are a few simple ways you can prepare so that if tough times hit, you’re not faced with an immediate crisis. Regardless of your income, current situation or state of the economy, consider preparing by getting back to basics.

Be less wasteful. I’m not saying don’t spend, but spend wisely and evaluate your spending. Live below your means. Separate your wants from needs. Consider getting used to less leisure or unnecessary driving. As gas prices continue to increase, if you cut back on the amount of driving you do, the impact to your wallet won’t seem quite so severe. Try alternatives such as carpooling, public transportation, walking or biking. Consider downsizing your vehicle. In a nutshell, make smart choices.

DELAY LARGE PURCHASES: At the very least, pay cash for purchases. Consider spending a little extra money to stock up on nonperishable goods. Cut out excessive wants, and try living on a lean budget. However, if you have a much-needed home repair that reduces costs, take care of it. This would include adding insulation or fixing appliances such as heaters and freezers.

INCREASE INCOME AND SAVINGS: Whether it’s taking on additional work or selling things you already have, plan on decreasing and eliminating any debt and adding to your income. Expand your knowledge so you’re not locked into one type of job. You can go back to school, brush up on skills or maintain a professional network.

If you don’t have a garden, cook from scratch or preserve food, consider either doing so or learning how to. Learn how to make household repairs. If you don’t have time or room for a backyard garden, join a community garden. Consider alternative heat and light sources such as a wood-burning stove or oil lamps. Learn to hunt and fish, establish a network of people to barter with and have a working knowledge of first aid. Ask yourself how self-reliant and self-sufficient you are. Strive to improve upon it. If you’ve been frugal for a while, you won’t be doing anything terribly different than any other day. If you’re not frugal, it’s not too late to be.

One Comment

  1. donn

    7/22/2009 at 4:02 pm

    Hello Sara..
    It was so refreshing to read your article on ways to be more frugal..which I truly am. What an inspiration for those who read it..and I hope they will follow your excellent advice. We live in a society that indulges in ‘stuff’/materialism’, etc. Being well/happy/healthy/contented is not a result of all that stuff ‘out there’ comes internally. When people ask me if I have many of today’s trendy items, I simply say :’No..How does that enhance the quality of my life and health”. I am over 61 years of age. I live an exceptionally healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise and healthy eating, which is mostly plant based and whole grains . I know what it’s like to lose many years of retirement/savings with a company in 2001. They were difficult times, but most importantly I have an extremely healthy lifestyle..and that should be everyone’s top priority. I work part time, so I don’t have insurance coverage..which makes it even more important to be healthy. When a clini! c Dr. asked what is it I do to get such excellent results from a physical…I told him it’s my choice to live a healthy lifestyle. I inform younger people that all the money/materialism in the world doesn’t do you any good if you aren’t healthy to enjoy it. Take my advice…life’s experiences can be one of our best ‘teachers’. If people would only ‘change their thinking and change their lives’ mentality..what a huge difference it would make in living a more frugal and healthy lifestyle. Thank you Sara..seeing your article was wonderful.


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