If a struggling economy has got you down, and you need effective ways to manage your cash flow better, here are some practical strategies you can use right now to improve your situation:
1. Instead of choosing to pay bills first, Pay Yourself First by keeping a small percentage from each paycheck in a savings account. This money will be used for your emergency fund or investing fund ONLY.
2. Cut up your debit card to stop over-spending. This will force you to drive to the bank in order to withdraw money.
3. If you dine out often for lunch, avoid going to a sit-down restaurant. This allows you to prevent leaving tips and buying a soft drink that often costs a large percentage of your bill. Consider eating a low-cost, healthy lunch, such as Subway.
4. If you have a mortgage on your home, and your interest rate is significantly higher than the current market interest rate, consider re-financing your mortgage. Note: this may or may not be save you money, depending on terms of your new loan.
5. Consider switching to generic brands on most of your household goods, such as shampoo, laundry detergent, or kitchen cleaners. Most generic brands perform just as well as the brand names, but cost less.
6. Consider cutting expensive luxuries, such as premium cable television or a premium gym membership. Unless there is a sufficient need to have a premium-quality service, most people can function effectively with basic services.
7. Consider paying the entire balance of one credit card with the money in your savings account. Then replenishing your savings account immediately after your card is paid off. For example, if you have a credit card with a balance of $4,557 and your savings account has a balance of $5,000, you would payoff the credit card to avoid the future interest charges. You will then have $443 left in your saving, and now have the extra money each month to replenish your savings.
8. Contrary to popular belief, the highest interest rate credit card may not be the best to payoff first. Consider your options: if you can payoff a lower interest rate credit card within a short period of time (i.e. 6 months or less), go ahead and do so. Then you can contribute the amount of payment from the paid-off card toward any remaining credit card balances (and you will feel much more confident knowing that you are staying in control of your finances).
9. Instead of shopping at premium grocery stores where baggers bag groceries and employees chase carts in the parking lot, consider finding discounted grocery stores. Discounted grocery stores offer lower prices because of the money saved from hiring staff and national brand marketing.
10. The Internet provides a wealth of knowledge fast. Search and find local coupon or daily deal websites to find discounts on your favorite goods and services!