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Budget During Crisis

There is one way you are sure to never successfully overcome a problem – and that is to try and ignore it.  Even if you can bury it for a while, it will find a way to dig itself to freedom.  This is especially true with finances.

Recently we went from a household income of almost $4000 a month to one of just under $2000 a month – without warning.  I wanted to just push the bills aside and not think about them, but they are spilling out onto my keyboard now and making the financial reality impossible to ignore.

The scary thing is that we haven’t even begun to feel the strain yet.  I think it is the idea of the strain that is keeping me from confronting the situation – especially this time of year.  Who wants to tighten the belt just when it’s time to splurge on family and friends?

Despite my apprehension, we are staying afloat – and will probably even manage to put back a few buck.

1.      Stay on budget.  When the ship starts to sink, it’s not the time to splurge.  Sometimes we get an attitude of “what does it matter now” that only sinks us farther.  Don’t go there.  Stay focused on the budget and refuse to give in to temptation.

2.      Put a three day wait on all purchases.  If you think about something then you may realize you don’t have to get it.  For those of us who are bargain shoppers, this may require going to the store BEFORE the sale, but it will be worth it.

3.      Think outside the box.  Look for bargains everywhere.  We recently got a notice from a car dealership.  All we had to do was stop in and we’d get a $10 coupon towards a turkey (which was on sale for under $1 per pound at the local grocery).  Thanksgiving dinner – almost for free.

4.      Pay your bills.  When the horizon is looking rather dark it can be hard to let go of any money.  The problem is that if you don’t pay your bills on time then you rack up those late fees, which eat even more from your budget.

5.      Avoid credit with all that you are.  It is too easy to turn to the credit card in time of crunch.  If you don’t have the money to pay before the due date, then you are only digging a hole that you might never get out of.  It is better to pay cash and do with less.

6.      Save something.  When the income drops by half (and it seems you were barely getting by even then) it may seem impossible.  If you look hard and squeeze tight, you might be able to find a couple of dollars here and there.  Having something in savings will help you sleep better at night.

We will survive.  Better yet, we will prosper during this transition.  We are working as a family and planning each step.  There is no way to go but up!

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