You may be a careful spender who lives within your means and stays out of debt. But a financial emergency, such as you or a spouse - or both -- losing your jobs, may throw all your money plans out of whack. You can land on your feet by saving money in a hurry with some simple changes.
Cut out any spending that you do not need to survive such as clothes, entertainment or travel. Hide all your credit cards so you’re not tempted to buy something on the spur of the moment. Unplug all appliances to save electricity, because many devices still use power while on standby mode. Increase your deductibles on health and car insurance, which will reduce your monthly payments. However, do not increase your out-of-pocket requirements to beyond what you can afford when you must use insurance.
When you receive a bill, don’t let it lapse to save money. Not only will you accrue additional interest and late fees, you can hurt your credit. Instead, call the issuing company and explain your financial situation. Ask the company if there is anything it can do to help you because you want to meet your obligations and keep its services. Some companies may be able to reduce the money you owe. It’s more likely, however, they will waive payments for a month or two. Some may reduce interest rates either temporarily or permanently. Many utilities already have payment assistance programs in place for such occasions.
Find cheaper or low-cost alternatives to high-cost activities. Cancel your gym membership and work out at a local community center, college or park. Eat at home rather than at a restaurant or take your home-cooked meals to a park for an outdoor picnic. Look for free concerts, museum days and festivals in your community, rather than going to movies or nights out. Cancel your subscriptions and read your favorite magazines at the library. This public institution is also a free source of books and multimedia. Many libraries also offer free Internet access, so you can cancel your online provider. Switch from your subscription cell phone plan to a pay-as-you-go version.
Do It Yourself
You may be tempted to defer maintenance on your home or vehicle to save money. But this can lead to higher repair bills in the future. Look for ways to do the repairs yourself. Many home center stores offer free classes on how to perform basic tasks. You’ll also find no shortage of instruction on the Internet and at your local library. Changing essential car fluids such as oil and transmission fluids can be complicated but is something you can do yourself. Look no further than your car’s instruction manual for help. If you find this too much trouble, consider selling your second or primary car and relying on public transportation. Not only will you save on maintenance costs but you won’t also have to worry about gas or insurance.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.