Times are tough. Financial pressure can impact your physical and mental health, your relationships and your ability to be a good spouse, parent and employee. Here are six simple ways to lower your stress by making a few simple changes in the way you “do life” and handle your money.
Sell unnecessary items
Clothes and small items are perfect for a garage sale or consignment store. Large items or items with significant value can be sold on Craigslist or eBay. Selling your unwanted stuff is an easy way to get extra cash to pay bills or to save for a future need.
Become a deliberate spender
Budgeting is a simple way to learn how you spend your money and to avoid impulse buying. With a clear spending plan and a little self-discipline, you can avoid the debt trap of spending more than you earn and relying on credit. If you're really determined, a budget will help you save for a rainy day, or for a new car or family vacation.
Be a savvy shopper
Stock up on store specials when you shop for groceries and use coupons whenever possible. Avoid impulse purchases – make a shopping list, never shop on an empty stomach and leave the kids at home.
When shopping for back-to-school items, don't stray from your "needs list" – buying extra clothes and supplies will leave you with nothing to pay for unexpected expenses after school starts. And remember that many states offer sales tax holidays that will save you at least 5 to 8 percent on back-to-school clothes, shoes, accessories and supplies.
If possible, never pay retail
Discount retailers make it easy to wear the latest fashions without having to pay full retail price. Know retailers' seasonal cycles and wait for sales. Shop online – not only is it easier to comparison shop, but many online retailers offer special promotions, discount codes and free shipping that will save you money. Don't be afraid to haggle on large purchases and services. In many cases you can "name your price" or get free "add-ons." Negotiating may even work with retailers, especially if you can point to offers from competitors.
Have fun, but save on entertainment
Many local retailers have kiosks where you can rent a movie for $1 per night – or less if you have a coupon. If movies aren't your thing, make a trip to the library. There are books available for all ages, including fantastic book series for children and teens. And reintroduce your kids to the things you did as a kid – arts and crafts, board games, card games and playing outside.
If you can Do it yourself, then do it
With the advent of home improvement stores, you can do simple projects yourself. Instead of going out to lunch, "brown bag it." And for much less than you spend on your favorite latte at the coffee shop, you can brew your own premium-brand coffee and add any flavor imaginable.
Sometimes it's the small things that are the difference between financial success and failure. Just a few simple lifestyle changes and a little self-discipline can save you thousands of dollars each year.
More tips for saving:
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