The recession has been with us since October 2008, and recovery in the USA and around the world has been a lot slower than anyone expected. This being the case, it is time to take practical steps to start strengthening your family finances.
1-Pay down your debts
Debt drains your money due to high interest payments. Why let the credit card companies profit from you? Look at their fancy offices and expensive commercials. What’s in YOUR wallet? More of your own money, thanks! Cut up all credit cards and save one for emergencies only. Pay down your debt and stay out of debt.
2-Look carefully at all your investments.
Put away enough money to last for a minimum of 18 months. Open a money market account or a CD. If you have stocks, don’t sell; ride the tide. Continue contributing to your 401K plan. If you are currently contributing to a Variable Annuity, change it to a Fixed Fund, which can yield a guaranteed 7%.
3-Re-work the household budget.
Make cuts where necessary, especially in the miscellaneous category. Refrain from buying unnecessary items such ordering take-out food, magazines, lottery scratch cards, and other incidental items that add up.
If you tend to dine out once a week or get takeaway, reduce that to once a month. Bring your own lunch to work by brown bagging it (see Carolyn Stone’s guide for more information).
Use public transportation when you can and/or carpool to work with a friend or neighbor. Try to complete all outside errands and grocery shopping in one day using the most efficient route.
Save inside the home as well, on everything from energy costs to the paper products that you use. Shop the sales for the supermarket loss leaders and clip coupons. Just remember that they are not really bargains if you would not normally buy the item in question.
4-Start a home-based business
If you have items at home that are gathering dust in the attic or garage, consider selling them on eBay. Do you have any clothing that is new or slightly used? If so, you may want to take them to a consignment shop where you can sell them for a commission. Have items you want to give to charity? Let them work for you by heading over to the Salvation Army website. Look up the items they accept and the value they place on each. Make a list and get the receipt signed. Then use it at tax time as a deduction.
5-Work as a freelancer.
Do you love to write? Or do graphics? Can you spare a few hours a day online? If so, you can earn money writing for blogs and websites. Content is king on the Internet, but busy business owners, and/or ones who are not good writers themselves will not have the time to create articles and images for their websites or blogs.
Having a good writer or artist on hand to fulfill that need not only helps them but can also supplement your income substantially. There are several excellent freelance sites that you can register at to apply for jobs, or get invited to work at, including elance, odesk and elancers.
In the second part of this article, we will discuss another 5 strategies for surviving and even thriving in tough economic times.
For more great ideas on how to survive and even thrive in this recession, see:
For more information on how to start an emergency fund, see: How to Build an Emergency Fund For Your Household Finances (More for Less Guides)