Is your wallet half empty or half full? If being in debt and short on cash is making you feel like you've lost control, there are ways to plan and budget. While there aren't any overnight solutions (other than a lottery or inheritance) there are some simple ways to start getting you out of debt, and back in control.
Those extra channels, that Starbucks Coffee, the great cell phone features. They all add up! Keep a tab on what you spend on all these "little" things and add them up at the end of the month. You'd be surprised.
Cut down on dining out or the movies for example. Rent a movie and eat in. Plan your trips to cut down on gas. Instead of running out every time you're out of something, make a list. Hit the Supermarket, Hardware Store and Gym all in the same trip. I'm not suggesting you give these things up all together, simply prioritize your spending.
A Plastic World
If you're like most people, you couldn't function without a credit card, and you shouldn't have to! If you have multiple cards however, consider all the interest you're paying. It may be time to consolidate, either by transferring balances onto the lowest interest credit card or speaking to your bank about a loan. You'll have less payments and less interest.
If you own a business, trading with other business owners for goods/services will conserve your cash flow and move your excess inventory. Services you normally pay for can be bartered in return for merchandise you would have been left holding anyway.
Compare your providers such as phone companies, car or home insurance and banks for the lowest mortgage rates. Many times, your current provider will match competitor's rates. They've worked too hard to get you as a customer, they want to keep you. You may have had the same provider for years but there may be a new similar service that's available for less.
Just Say No
It's fine to keep up with the Jones' but not if it's putting you in debt! Don't look at what you don't have, look at all the things you do. If you have children, you know how expensive it is to maintain their lifestyles.
Is it really necessary to spend $100 on a pair of jeans or shoes and do they really need a cell phone? Will they hate you forever? Well maybe for a little while, but sometimes we overcompensate with our children for the things we didn't have growing up.
We survived just fine without laptops, cell phones and ipods. Just explain it's temporary or if they're old enough, encourage them to work for the things they want.
The First Step
While this may not be all of the solution to your debts, it's a start in the right direction. Work hard; don't expect any miracles and maybe you'll enjoy a good night's sleep.
Barb Di Renzo is the Co-Owner and Editor of http://www.u-exchange.com A worldwide barter website dedicated in providing consumers and business owners a variety of ways to barter services and goods or home exchange at no cost. She is also the author of Barter 101, an informative guide for people who are new to bartering online.