I hope these ideas are helpful in your pursuits to make it in this crazy economy! It hasn't been since my great grandmother's lifetime that times have been this tough. Even the recession of the 1970's when I was a child and gas prices where at an all time high have we been so barraged with financial woes! Many of us are carrying debt around like a huge ton of weight on our backs. With job instability and other financial uncertainty, it's SMART to begin a process of MAKING lifestyle changes that even if you find you don't become one of the many who struggle, you will have made some lasting changes that can increase your savings and person wealth for your future. This lifestyle change is a WIN~WIN for anyone! Since I am attacking DEBT in a huge way, join me for FREE money saving tips and strategies. Leave me a comment too to share what you are doing~I am learning too!
I have begun a list that I want to ad to, creating a vast resource for BUDGET BOOSTING Ideas!
Beginning with the mindset and discussing in detail the kitchen, here is the first of many ideas to come~
1. Make a plan to make a change in your thinking first. Think: "I can conquer my debt and live on less!"
2. Prioritize your goals. What do you need and want to accomplish? Debt reduction, freedom from debt, or saving money or what? Where CAN you start. List them out and number them.
3. Take number one and create that plan. What strategy can you begin today that will make a difference in the overall situation? Can you make ONE change today? Do it!
4. Keep your notes of your work on your "financial house" in a notebook or file box or on the computer~just keep them.
5. Make a list of all you owe.
6. Make a list of all your resources: ones that are "available" such as cash, money in an account you can access or in savings without penalty. List those like stock, 401K or other accounts that you can't touch (whole life insurance policies, Roth IRA, bonds, certificates of deposit), real estate, current home, rental property, vehicles, recreation vehicles: boats, campers and other high end resources, land, gold, other. LIST it all.
7. For number 5~find out and list not just how much, but at what interest rate, due date, and late fees. Get all the info, even get payoff amounts. GET the total picture of your debt. This is not easy, but knowledge is power!
8. Use a calendar and write every due date on each day of the month with name of the creditor and amount (minimum) due address and phone number. Write a reminder 7 days before so you can get it safely in the mail without penalty. Late fees are awfully expensive and unnecessary when they can be avoided!
9. Add up the creditor amounts. Add up the resource amounts that are liquidable. Can you pay anything off? If you can, plan to do so AFTER putting aside enough for two months rent/mortgage. Then pay what you can with the excess, paying the lower amount off first. This is one bill you can put to rest.
10. After saving and paying, what is left? Can you pay the essentials? Rent, food, utilities, medicines, and others? These are first pay priorities each month. Pay them on time and allot enough to cover them each time.
11. If you find that you don't have enough to pay all the bills at least the minimum payments, after you have payed for essentials, then call your creditors. Negotiate a new payment or date or a grace period. If you find that they will not work with you, contact a local non profit consumer credit counseling agency to advocate on your behalf. Understand that you are now on a cash only basis. You may continue to have checking and savings accounts, but you will no longer use credit for any purchase other than something major like medical fees where lifee or death are involved or if you must purchase a home. Otherwise, cash only! Don't buy new cars either. . .
12. Work with the counselor from consumer credit to negotiate your bills. Take everything with you so they can see the total picture. Enroll and complete any courses they offer on debt management.
13. Unless you just have NO resources, pay your bills on time. Establish a good history with your creditors. You may need them to work with you and a good relationship will help this. Be polite and friendly when you deal with them. Relationship matters!
14. Practice frugal living. Beginning with the frame of mine to change thinking, change behaviors that led to this issue in the first place.
15. Begin thinking of all the things to be thankful for, and remember that thankfulness makes what we have, enough!
16. Make signs and post them around, put it on your computer monitor, fridge, mirrors to be thankful~begin prayers of thankfulness to God. THINK of all the wonderful blessings in your life.
17. Act out being thankful. Tell someone, call someone, show someone! Give out of love and thankfulness!! Volunteer your time to help others. Do something to give back out of all God has done in your life! This is transforming to our hearts and minds!
18. Inventory groceries in your pantry. Make a list by category. List it all. Then menu plan. Purchase only what you need to USE UP what is already present. Do this at least twice a year to keep good rotation of foods. This prevents spoilage and unnecessary waste.
19. Plan menus based on health, and what is available in the pantry adding what is on sale and in season. Sales are generally based on season and shelf life. I like to scope out my grocery store to see when they place the "rack" items that are marked down in abundance. Figure out which store has which items consistently for less. KNOW your prices and shop accordingly.
20. Find day old bread outlets, dent can stores and other deep discounted stores for food and household items. Many communities have them, but you have to look~they aren't always in the posh areas either as the store's overhead has to kept minimally. KEEP looking til you find one.
21. Buy in bulk if it will be used or can be restored. Huge cans of ketchup are worthless to buy if you throw 1/3 away. Figure out your usage and buy accordingly.
22. Store food properly to enhance shelf life. Lettuces, and other leafy greens are best stored in containers that breathe, but keep out moisture. I wrap my lettuce in paper towel and then bag it. It stores a whole lot longer! Keep canned goods in a cool dry area. BE sure and wash can lids before opening to prevent germ contamination. Being sick isn't thrifty! Potatoes, onions, gords and other foods, like apples and bananas~keep dry and cool. Hang bananas! Store food in the appropriate areas according to temperature in the fridge. Frozen eggs are unusable!
23. Organize the pantry and freezer. KNOW what is there and what needs to go first!
24. Date foods in the freezer if you have a deep freeze so they won't get old. Use a permanent marker to mark name and date of each item. Keep freezer at temps that keeps things solidly frozen.
25. Dry goods must be in air tight/bug proof containers. NO ONE wants wevils in their flour!
26. Rotate and use up condiments too. Old salad dressing and others are ick!
27. Use clips to seal bags and other foods. I use wooden clothespins with the spring hinge. They work well!
28. Pay attention to the sale papers and know that the cheaper items are on the front and back of the ads! The other is filler usually! Always read, but be sure you KNOW the prices so you can compare!
29. Use 1/2 or less of what you might normally use of things like paper towels, dishwasher powder, dish soap, cleaning solutions, and more! Use newspaper and vinegar or alcohol to clean windows. Soap and water works well as a cleaner with a splash (about 2 tbs) of bleach. This is one fluid ounce. NOT a whole lot for a ton of cleaning!
30. Soak dishes or wash right after a meal or rinse and load the dishwasher. Hardened foods are harder to clean. Who WANTS the dirty fork at dinner? NOT!
31. Keep the dishwasher clean on the inside. If it does not have a filter, you clean out the trap at the bottom so when it rinses, the water remains clean and your dishes are not covered with food particles that float around as the water washes over the dishes. If anyone in the household is sick, use the hot dry. If all are well, use the air method of opening the door to air dry them without the expense of the heated dry cycle or use a dish towel and dry them by hand.
32. Put dishes away and keep all areas clean and neat. If there is not clutter or items whether it's your treasured kitchen aide mixer however beautiful, it will make it harder to wipe those surfaces! Less is more! Wipe out the pantry area of dish storage too. Wipe cabinet doors with vinegar removing fingerprints and kitchen grime. Vinegar is a wonderful antiseptic and all natural. You may want gloves as it's very acidic.
33. Washing windows with vinegar or alcohol can be done very well with newspaper. If you don't subscribe, save those newspapers or sale newspapers that are often dropped at the door. Save up if you know you are doing windows in the near future~this way you have no need to purchase paper towels for other than a clean use such as a picnic or such other food uses.
34. Use grocery plastic sacks as much as possible for dirty trash and small can liners. WHAT did we ever do without these? You can even make use of them like carrying a wet bathing suit from the pool in them or packing a lunch for a throwaway sack! Use them and reuse them and get rid of them!
35. Use off brand dishwasher and dish washing soaps. They work equally as well, if you use a little care. I like to presoak or wash the dishes without rinsing by filling about 1/2 of the sink with hot water and put the dish soap on my rag. Then I wash and put into the dishwasher without rinsing. I then use about 1/3 of the recommended amount of dishwasher powder in the machine because technically I have cleaned them and all they really need is rinsing. My good clean dishwasher does the trick!
36. Use vinegar for cleaning the floors. For about eighty cents a quart, you have wonderful cleansing power. A good healthy splash into the mop bucket~AND I don't care if it smells like pickes! ;-)) off I go mopping and rinsing the mop frequently. I don't purchase an expensive mop, but a dollar store small headed mop for "back ease" and rinse and mop~rinse and mop! My motto: you can't clean with dirty. I have no guilt when I change the mop water frequently. I use old tees and socks cut into rags for cleaning baseboards and room floor edges and thresholds. Vinegar works very well and is easy on the chemical allergies and will not lower immunity like strong chemicals can. Health is important too!
37. Keep the microwave turned off in between uses. No flashing lights or dinging going on to eat up the power at however a slow rate!
39. Keep the light bulbs clean and dusted as this will dim the light and reduce efficiency! Use as much natural sunlight as possible in rooms. Open windows instead of turning on lights. If it's very hot like FL~use sun blocking shades to keep the rooms cool. If cold, insulated curtains. Storm windows are wonderfully effecient. Be sure they operate properly!
40. Turn it off when you aren't using it. This goes for everything from lights to computers, to everything that can just sit and run without YOU. Now the fridge/freezer, clocks and such must stay on, but look for places to shut down that power.
41. Purchase florescent light bulbs as much as possible. Get good quality lights that are rated for the power coming into the home. Blown lights can be a problem with wiring and electrical services.
42. Store bread closed tightly in a closed in place to reduce spoilage and animal "help." Our cat likes bread!
43. Meal plan so you are cooking once a day in the cool of the day in summer or cold of the day in winter. The help will be in the reduction of the utility bills!
44. Drink water as much as possible. This is healthy and economical. Keep cold and put a drop or two of lemon if you dislike the taste. Remember though, taste is acquired!
45. Keep the coils or back of the fridge clean. Under pan or bottom of the fridge on the floor need cleaning too. Odors can accumulate there. Also the effectiveness can be altered with the dirt!
46. Whole foods such as dry beans, rice, pasta, fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, grits, couscous, corn meal, flour, eggs, milk, butter, veggie oils or olive oils, fresh meats and more may require more prep time, but they cost less and are healthier. Notice I did not mention commercially produced foods such as canned soups, stews, meats or other preseasoned, preserved types of foods. CHECK IT OUT~you can save buying, preparing and eating this way~and again: health is sooo worth it not only financially but personally!
47. Start a recipe file for completely home cooked~great tasting dishes for your family. I am so taken back with the promises of the $__ (you name the "nominal price" meals ads! to sell me the book or ebook!) There are thousands of recipes online for FREE all over the web~why pay someone to give you what others will share? But yes, collect up recipes for your family that they will enjoy and are cost saving health boosters! AND do it for as little as possible. USE it all up! Don't waste anything.
48. Speaking of waste: When you use it up, you find a way~new or tried and true to eat it all or use it all so that NOTHING is left behind. Examples include: rinsing bottles and cans of items to add into homemade soups and stews. Storing left overs in what I call my "soup bowl" in the freezer with a nice tight lid where I put all small quantity left overs of veggie variety or noodle/pasta/rice for a soup base after I accumulate enough for the family. Save and freeze small piece of meats to add into a meat loaf for a tasty addition~TRUST me, it's good! Some may feed their dog the left overs, but I don't recommend this for two reasons. One is that your family can eat the food and second is that human food is not nutricious for your dog creating what could be costly vet bills for conscientious pet owners. I do not advocate neglecting pets or other responsibilities to save a buck today that will bite in the end! We've never fed our dog "scraps," but we use them up ourselves. Good for man and beast alike!
49. Speaking of pets. I love animals and children. LOVE them both! But I could allow my love to carry me away so far that I could become the "crazy cat lady" with so many furry friends that I could not afford resposible pet ownership. I define this as being able to pay vet bills, purchase pet foods and pet care and items as well as spay and neuter. I can't tell you the times I have seen folks who can't afford to feed animals take on more because there was a need~but what about vet time? Often these animals suffer without care due to lack of resources. I do NOT take in animals I can't care for properly. I know this sounds hard, but what is worse, if I take them and neglect or leave them to the possibility someone else may step up to the plate to help? I view adoption of children in much the same way. I would LOVE to have more children, but even this area of life has to have resources. I remember the Bible verses, "a righteous man regards the life of his beast" and "lo children are a heritage of the Lord. . .blessed. . ." I will be a good steward or caretaker of who and what God has given me to the best of my ability. ATTAKCING debt and living within our means is a great part of this for our family!
50. If you are able to enlarge your "tent" to accomodate more children or pets, you can approach these in ways that you may feel are Scriptural. I won't delve into the fertility rights and responsibilities here or even offer an opinion. I will say that whatever you chose in life has consequences that must be accounted in the positive and in toughness too. Just be sure God is at the helm of any of your decisions, and His blessings will flow. I believe in a divine God who does do so much for His children that often as undeserving, we benefit from His good pleasure! This is 'interest" unlike any out of the bank. God's interest! In just human earthly terms, it's wise to consider all the effects of our decisions.
Whew! I have chased some debt out of the house and looked at details for operating a budget boosting kitchen! Oh! It's all work, even just keeping up with the STUFF we all accumulate, but with forethought and planning, the debt will decrease and the savings will be on the rise. Next I will look at other budget boosting ideas for the rest of the home and living. This is ONE area I am studying and will share with you~for free!
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BEATING the heck out of debt today!