Whether you work on Wall Street or Main Street, the economic downturn is affecting almost everyone. People are losing their jobs and incomes are stagnant. Hiring is flatter than promotions. If you’re even able to earn a solid income, consider yourself lucky. However, you can’t forget that you still must make the most of the money you do earn. Here are five tips to save money during the economic downturn.
1) Consider Used Items
Before making a purchase, always consider buying used items. This could mean visiting a local thrift store instead of going to a department store for clothing, or buying a car from a classified ad. Refurbished computers (and other electronics) are significantly cheaper than new items and many still come with a 1-year warranty. Online shopping will yield a plethora of options, and many websites are extremely reliable and reputable. As with any purchase, remember to use your common sense (if a repair is imminent, consider this cost too).
2) Use Public Transport
Using public transportation is a great way to save money because gas prices are still high, parking is costly, and a car itself is expensive. If you live in a city with an extensive public transit system, it is possible to to actually survive (and thrive!) without a car. This can save thousands, since you’re avoiding car payments, insurance, maintenance & gas. Even most mid-sized cities have a bus system and the occasional taxi ride here and there won’t compare to the monthly bills you pay with a car.
3) Wants vs. Needs
The vast majority of your purchases are unnecessary. People simply buy things because they want them. Obviously, a life without little luxuries doesn’t sound very appealing, but keep this in mind when you’re out shopping or having a night out on the town. Isn’t going without a few luxuries for a few months worth the sacrifice if you’re able to purchase the things you need with less trouble and you’re less stressed? Furthermore, you can often substitute expensive purchases with more affordable options and still enjoy these options in a new way. If you learn to figure out exactly what you need, then chances are that you will save a lot in the long run.
4) Use Coupons & Look For Discounts
Extreme couponing is becoming more popular these days and now is the time to really jump on the bandwagon. Check for coupons online and in newspapers to save money on groceries. Start planning all of your shopping trips, search for discounts beforehand and ask for anything you might have missed in order to save the maximum amount of money.
5) Look Into Public Resources
There are many public resources that people can use to save money. Go to the library to get the latest books and DVDs.. You can also find a number of free family activities at local libraries, museums, and parks. Some libraries offer free programs, classes, and lectures as well to keep you intellectually stimulated too.
Perhaps the best philosophy to keep in mind is to be creative! Look for new ways to save and stretch your money. You’d be surprised at just how many options you’ll find with a few minutes here and there. After all, nothing’s free in this world. But wouldn’t you rather figure that out in a few minutes at home than in a few more hours at work?
Shirley Bennett enjoys writing about personal finance, shopping & Mint.com Coupons.