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Keep Expenses Low for when the Hard Times Hit

February 3, 2009 | Financial Tips | 2 Comments

In today’s economy, many people are suffering. We purchase items like cars and homes that we cannot afford. This spells trouble for many of us should we lose our jobs, or become ill, and unable to work.

Due to our spending habits, this doesn’t just happen to low-income workers, but even to those making over $100K. Unfortunately, it seems the majority of Americans live from paycheck-to-paycheck. We have become a society of spenders and not savers.

When things are going well, most of us don’t think about the rainy days. We normally don’t think about the things that cause financial strain. The reason we buy auto insurance is to protect us in the event we have an accident. If we do, there is coverage to fix/replace the automobile, or to pay for medical expenses. The same should happen with our finances. We must plan for the unexpected events.

In order to effectively plan for unexpected financial events such as losing a job or falling ill, it’s about money. Someone with $100K in the bank (assuming no they have no debt) will be able to handle an unexpected financial event better than someone with $1K in the bank. To put yourself in a good financial position, you should do the following:

Live below your means. Having nice things makes us feel good initially. But most times, the feeling wears off after a while. You can save a ton of money by living below your means. A mortgage of $1,000 vs. $1,500 will save you $6,000 per year and $60,000 in ten years! Having a car payment of $300 vs. $500 will save you $2,400 per year and $9,600 in 4 years! This makes a big impact on your financial situation.

Always have a positive cash flow every month. This means you should bring in more money than you pay out. Of course, the idea is to maximize the money you bring in and minimize the money you pay out. Checking your monthly cash flow is quite easy. At the end of the month, evaluate your checking account to determine how much money you spent. That number should always be lower than the money you brought in for the month. If you spent more than your brought in for the month, that is a problem.

Create a budget and stick to it. This is simple to do, although most people don’t do it. If you ask the average person how much money they make, they can easily tell you. If you ask them their monthly expenses, most people have no idea. If it’s not down on paper, then you can’t plan it. You should track your monthly expenses to determine whether or not things are getting out of hand.

Always pay yourself first. When you get your paycheck, pay yourself first. If your budget shows you to have $500 left over after paying your bills, then the first thing you should do is to transfer that $500 in your savings account when you get paid!

Never carry a balance on a credit card. Paying finance fees for a pair of shoes is absolutely crazy! If you currently have a credit card balance, pay it off ASAP! Cut them up if you can’t control yourself. Credit cards make paying for goods and services convenient but if it causes you to spend on impulse, then it’s time for you to cut them up.

Stay healthy by exercising, eating a proper diet and maintaining a proper weight. Healthcare is a huge problem in this country. Becoming chronically ill can easily bankrupt you – even if you have good insurance. If your illness causes you not to be able to work, you will eventually lose your job, and your insurance will follow. Once you lose your insurance, since you have a pre-existing condition, it will be even more expensive for you to buy insurance. Taking care of your health is money in the bank. Many people do a great job taking care of their children, house, cars and jobs, but do a terrible job taking care of themselves. We all get so busy throughout our days that we fail to realize our health is deteriorating which leads to diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

If you follow these simple rules, you will put yourself in a good financial position to save money. If or when the hard times come, you have money to make it through. It’s all about having a cushion.

 

 

 

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2 Comments to “Keep Expenses Low for when the Hard Times Hit”

  1. JET
    10:54 am on February 7th, 2009

    I really like your article about having a financial cushion and living below your means. However,I think you could be more benficial by advising how to do a budget or get a positive cash flow when your money is tight!

  2. Patrick
    10:58 am on February 7th, 2009

    Thanks for your comment. Good feed back. In the future there will be other posts about budgeting and cash flow. Stay tuned.

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