We all know budgeting money isn't easy and juggling bills from month to month can put a load of stress on you and your family. If you think that saving money just isn't an option for you, think again. It might not be as hard as you think. Here are a few suggestions to start getting you back on track, without feeling like you're on a budget.
Ah yes, the credit cards. Have you ever used one to pay off the other? If you answered yes, it may be time to consolidate. Think of the interest you're paying on multiple credit cards! Pick the one with the lowest interest rate, extend your limit and transfer the others over. It may be a large sum of money but you'll only have the one payment a month, with much less interest. If you can't do that, talk to your bank. If they have a lower interest rate, you can apply for a loan to pay off some of your cards.
Take a good look at your bills. Cable, long distance, cell phone plans, home and life insurance. When's the last time you shopped around for a better rate? Take some time out to call around and inquire on rates for the same service. There are many new companies out there charging competitive rates. If you don't want to leave your current provider, tell them about the better deal. Many times, they'll match their competitor's rate just to keep you!
Although we enjoy life's little pleasures like picking up coffee before work, grabbing your favorite magazine, ordering out for dinner and going to the movies, these "little things" can really add up!
This doesn't mean that you have to go without. It just means that you have to spend wisely. Pick up a package of your favorite coffee, make it at home and take it to work. You'll get a lot more for your buck in the long run. Skip the ordering out and movies for a while. Make a quick and simple dinner and watch some t.v.
Forget the magazine and grab one of those books around the house that you've been meaning to read. Plan your trips to cut down on gas. Instead of running out every time you're out of something, make a list. Hit the Grocery Store, Hardware Store and Gym all in the same trip.
Have a lot of things around the house that you don't use? A talent or a skill? Put them to good use! Join a barter group and look for people in your area offering the goods or services you need. You may even stumble upon a trade offer that you hadn't even thought of.
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.
Talk to Your Kids
If you have children, you know how expensive it is to maintain their lifestyles. Be honest with them and tell them you'll be cutting back for a little while. This will save you from "Mom...Dad, can I have this?" Is it really necessary to spend $100 on a pair of jeans 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.
John C. Moore is the 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.