With negotiations and timing reaching a feverish pitch in Washington, it is not unexpected that our minds will turn to the potential impact on our own pocketbooks. It isn’t as if you or I are being asked our opinions at the discussion table and yet the outcome of discussions will have an impact on us. We need to be prepared to be empowered whatever decision is made. Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing your finances in the face of a potential decrease in household revenue:
- Always go back to the budget. Whether it is on pen and paper, a spreadsheet or other system you like to use, be sure you have identified all your expenses and anticipated them. It really is a good idea to make a projected budget for each month of the coming year – complete with expenses when you think they might occur like school fees, birthdays and possible repairs.
- Think through your priorities – and find money. Identify expenses you can feasibly reduce or eliminate entirely from your budget. Do you have cable or DSL? Consider cutting cable and instead using a streaming device like a Roku or Google tv. You can still get local channels if you buy an antennae for your television. They have them for high definition televisions as well – and the picture looks better over the air. What about your cell phone plan? Companies like StraightTalk and TracFone are very competitive with the phone options as well as talk plans. When it is time for your current contract to finish, consider going “off contract.” You could save several hundreds of dollars a month by not including a new phone in a renewed contract. Skip the gym membership – and buy some good running shoes.
- Set yourself up for success. When you trim expenses you also want to add some support for yourself. Maybe you want to go on a cash only budget on some expenses. You and your family will want to talk about the upcoming changes and how you are going to meet them positively together. Keep having fun – just think differently about what you spend when you have a great time. Subscribe to our newsletter for an upcoming issue on having a romantic Valentine’s Day on the cheap.
- Get a plan for your debt. Consider using a Debt Management Plan for repaying your unsecured debts. With your debt paid off you will be in a much better position to handle the next season of financial uncertainty.
- Keep saving. Make an automatic savings plan and stick to it. This will bail you out of emergencies that come up throughout the year.
For more information on how you can weather financial changes, contact CCCS of Central Oklahoma at cccsok.org or nationally at nfcc.org. You can also visit our Forms page for Credit and Budgeting resources.