Guest Post by Courtney Gordner, DEG Contributor
Money problems can be some of the most stressful issues we face in our day-to-day lives. These dilemmas can feel like a weight on your shoulders growing heavier as time goes on and you get deeper into debt – or maybe you’re not in debt, but you’re treading water and are completely unable to save money from paycheck to paycheck. Whatever your situation, money is stressful when it feels like there’s not enough of it.
Often, though, half of the problem is your own attitude. If you stop thinking about money as something out of your control or impossible to deal with, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that it becomes easier to manage. The smallest steps can often add up to make a profound difference. If you’re facing financial strain, follow these ten quick tips, and start turning your life around today.
1. Stop Buying Starbucks
You may consider your morning cup o’ joe or your lunchtime Panini from the gourmet sandwich shop down the street a dire necessity, but let’s be real: it’s not. Think about all the small purchases you make every day. Do you really need to be buying those things? Are there cheaper alternatives?
Instead of treating yourself on a daily basis, try making your own coffee. You could even buy slightly nicer ingredients, and make your own sandwich. You’re probably still saving money, and you might find you like your version even better.
2. Understand Your Expenses
One of the scariest money pressures is not being in debt but actually having no clue where your money is going. If your bank account seems to drain without fail, closely scrutinize your statements to figure out where the problem is. You can also use tools like Mint or Simple to track your expenses. You might discover that eating out every night is really expensive or even find a few subscription services you can cancel.
3. Make a Budget
Set spending goals for yourself. Remember that you can adjust this budget over time; better to set realistic goals at first and adjust them to challenge yourself later than to start out strict and immediately break your budget.
4. Focus on Paying Off Debt
If you have debt, it is very important to put a lot of energy into paying it off. Don’t just pay the minimum if you can afford to pay off more; ultimately you will save money by avoiding some interest you would otherwise owe.
5. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
Look around your home. What electronics, or nice clothes, or other items of value do you have that are just sitting around gathering dust? If you don’t use it, consider selling or donating it. Decluttering is motivating, and it could either mean a little extra income, or a deduction on next year’s taxes.
6. Be a More Conscientious Power User
How much energy do you waste without realizing it? If you leave the lights on all day while you’re at work, or your electric heat blasting when you’re not home, you’re wasting an awful lot of electricity – which, in turn, is adding to your bills.
7. Lower Your Bills
Chances are, you have a number of subscriptions that you pay on a monthly basis. Some of them may be set fees, but others might consider lowering your bill. No, I’m not kidding! Cable, internet and phone line monthly fees can usually be talked down to a lower price – usually whatever special they’re running at the moment. Also, look for special introductory rates on your cell phone plan.
8. Look for a Better-Paying Opportunity
Saving the world won’t pay the bills. If you’re working in a low-income position – for example, at a nonprofit or a library – and are really in need of more cash, it might be time to look for a more lucrative career or side job. Warehouses, fulfillment companies, oil and gas companies and transportation jobs all pay relatively well compared to the experience required. If you need the cash, don’t be afraid to seek out a better position.
9. Leave the Credit Card at Home
If you can’t buy anything, you won’t. Avoid the temptation to overspend by leaving the credit card at home and only making purchases with paper money or a debit card.
10. Save for the Future, Now
Does your employer match your IRA contributions up to a certain percentage? Do you contribute at least that percentage? If not, shame on you! You are essentially throwing free money away. An important part of alleviating your money woes now is preventing them later, so do the best thing for your future and start saving, now.
These ten tips should serve you well on your journey to reduce your financial stress. Do you have any more tips others would find useful? Share them by commenting below!
Courtney Gordner is a blogger/journalist who loves to write. While she enjoys writing about a variety of topics, internet marketing and social media are her favorites. You can read more from her on her blog, Talk Viral or connect with her on Twitter, @CourtGordner, Pinterest and Google+.