Discover tips and tricks on how to save money.

Ten years later, the whole world is still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis which hit many companies and individuals very hard, and on top of it all, it seems that another recession is ominously looming on the horizon. No wonder 30% of Americans are constantly worried about money, particularly if we bear in mind that almost 70% of the entire population holds at least one credit card.

The situation is similar in Australia where one in six people struggles with credit card debt. If we add the threat of unemployment to the equation, it’s easy to understand why financial stress is a serious problem which affects a person's quality of life. Luckily, there are ways to sort things out and manage your financial stress.

Make a personal budget

Yes, this is a highly unpleasant but necessary step, and although it may seem as if facing the music and setting your current financial affairs in order will bring you to the breaking point, it can actually be cathartic. You need to document your income and expenses as that’s essential for building your personal budget and allowing you to plan your spending ahead. It’s important to emphasize that the first couple of months will be difficult as having to cut corners isn’t exactly pleasant, particularly after months or years of uncontrollable spending. But once you get on the path of economic redemption, it will be much easier to find the right balance and start managing your finances effectively. The trick is to stick to the plan and fight a compulsion to go on a shopping spree.

Ask for help

If you can’t do this on your own, it’s a good idea not to procrastinate but to ask for help. As many people are struggling with poor money management, there are financial therapists and counsellors trained to offer financial advice. Sometimes re framing the situation can do wonders for getting through the rough patch. However, if your debts start spiralling out of control and if you need more than advice, there are ways to put an end to excruciatingly high credit card interest rates and save yourself from drowning. Applying to another credit card isn’t a solution as you’ll find yourself in too deep before long. Instead of that, think about taking out a debt consolidation loan with a low-interest rate. When you’re out of dire straits, you can have a fresh start and manage your money properly.

Prioritize

The consumerist culture we live in can be hard to resist. There are so many cool but ultimately unnecessary gadgets, clothes, and accessories which tempt you to buy them. Before you splurge out on that flashy new smartphone which costs a fortune, think about whether you need it. Is it worth the agony you’ll face when the time comes to pay it off? Upgrading to a newer car is great, but wouldn’t it be better to put that extra amount of money towards your retirement fund?

While it’s OK to treat yourself to fine dining from time to time, don’t make a habit of it. Or a wild shopping spree - there are so many better alternatives out there, you just need to inform better, not buy by an impulse. Instead of that, prepare meals at home and save a significant amount of money.  If you have a passion for new gadgets on the market - well you can use them wisely and bring a little bit of automation in your daily routine. A smartphone is called smart for a reason - it can help you with your saving, not only spending. You can download an app that will automate your saving. Now that is a clever way of spending to save, don’t you think?

Focus on what you have

Not on what you don’t! Keeping a positive attitude is essential for easing the burden of your everyday life. By being pessimistic, you can only induce even more stress and anxiety and push yourself further into a pit of despair. Appreciate all the great things that surround you – good friends, family, health, and the fact that you can afford a decent lifestyle. Try to eat healthily and exercise on a regular basis, because that way you’ll feel better both mentally and physically, which is essential for keeping stress at bay.

By no means should you bury your head in the sand and ignore your financial issues, but it’s beneficial set them aside from time to time and allow yourself to relax and spend some quality time with your loved ones. This doesn’t necessarily imply spending too much money as there are affordable activities that you can enjoy.

Set a goal

It will be much easier to face living within your means if you set a goal. For example, if you need a new TV or laptop, calculate how much money you have to put aside every month and saying no to different things and tightening your belt won’t be as difficult when you’re aware that it will ultimately pay off. This is a much better option than using your credit card to make a purchase right away, as you won’t have to pay any interest rate and you’ll finally realize that you can be self-sufficient and independent when it comes to money.

Taking control of your finances will require some painful cuts. Yup, we all know that hurts. A lot. If you stop for a second and think about it - do you really need those brand new shoes?  Or expensive new gadget that will become obsolete in the blink of an eye?  That would maybe bring you immediate joy and satisfaction but you need to set long-term goals. Money can’t buy happiness but let’s face it - if you use it wisely it can help you with relieving unnecessary stress. At the end of the day, you will have that much-needed feeling of fulfilment knowing that you did something good for yourself. Like a chess player - plan every step ahead. And soon you will master the game called home finance.

Article by Keith Coppersmith

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