The awful state of the economy is on just about everyone’s mind today. While some things like mortgages and taxes are inevitable, there are ways to find relief in times of a bad economy. Watching your consumption of energy and consumer goods, properly maintaining your vehicles and other electrical equipment, creating an effective food budget, learning a marketable skill and building or repairing things yourself when possible are all great ways to save money and live a more conservative life during bad times. Follows are specific steps to take to make these concepts a part of your everyday life.
- The Four Rs: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse and Repurpose. Before you throw anything away you should ask yourself if it could fall into one of these four categories. You would be surprised how small the amount of garbage you really produce each week is. My family is down to only two 30-gallon garbage bags a week (for a family of five). You may ask, “That’s great for the environment but how is it saving me money?” Well, most of the things you used to throw away can be reused or repurposed for some other reason, which will save you money from having to buy things. For example, I reuse commercial cleaner bottles for filling up with cheaper cleaning solutions, like white vinegar or baking soda and water. You can even just use them for spraying houseplants as long as you make sure to clean them out really well. Much of your food waste and paper waste can be used to make compost for your garden or for you to sell. Good compost is like gold for people trying to grow gardens.
- Ways To Save Gas: There are many simple ways to cut down on your gas use. As the price of gas keeps going up (as no doubt it will between speculators and the threat of a bad hurricane season), you will find it more and more necessary to save gas any way you can. First, make sure your vehicle is well maintained. The money you will spend on buying a tire gauge and regular oil changes (if you aren’t able to do it yourself) can save you big time at the pump. Another way to save on gas is to avoid accelerating and breaking more often than necessary. Avoid the temptation to speed off when the light turns green and to ride you brakes when behind a slowpoke driver. My favorite way to save gas, though, is to walk or ride a bike whenever possible. If you are going someone alone and it isn’t more than three or four miles, a walk or bike ride will make you feel wonderful and will help you stay healthy.
- Ways To Save On Food: Believe it or not, your food bill is one of the easiest places to save money and yet is the one place most people refuse to budge when it comes to changing. I promise you, most generic foods taste as good as the brand names. In fact, most generic brands are made by the same companies. By buying generic, I save close to twenty or twenty-five dollars over my brand-loyal family members. That comes out to nearly a hundred dollars a month just by changing from brand names. By making homemade equivalents to store bought goods, I save approximately another hundred dollars. That’s two hundred dollars just by making homemade, healthier food and by buying less expensive but equal quality generic brands. The best and maybe the simplest ways to save money is to plan your meal menu ahead of time so you know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store. You’d be surprised by how much money this small step can save you.
- Learn A Marketable Skill: Even in a bad economy, there are skills that are in high demand. The repair business gets better in bad times since people are less likely to buy new and more likely to repair what they have. Building and construction can actually be profitable skills during tough economic times because people are more likely to add-on to their homes and try to improve their property when they know they have little chance to sell and upgrade to a better home. Writing skills are always good to have because people are always looking for information but during rough times, people are most interested in how to do things themselves and ways to save money, so writing becomes an even more profitable skill. Try to find a place where a skill would benefit from tough times and learn that skill.
- Do-It-Yourself When Possible: If you can build, repair, sew, fix, cook, grow or any of the other necessary skills for living, you should do theses things yourself when you can. Labor charges are usually the most expensive part of any repair or contractor bill. Even if you don’t currently know how to do these things, I would suggest learning them. Just about anyone can change his or her own oil and spark plugs. Most people can easily learn to bake their own bread and sew their own curtains. Consider it an adventure. Not only will you save money, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment too.