10 Smart Money Moves to Make in Tough Times | Reader's Digest

10 Smart Money Moves to Make in Tough Times

There isn’t a single person that hasn’t been affected by the financial meltdown. Each of us is being asked to think differently about money, reflect on how much we have and need, why we need it, and how we can make more.

By Ariane de Bonvoisin from readersdigest.com

     

    Here are a few things we can all do, regardless of whether we have a dollar to our names, a million or if we’re submerged in debt.

  • 1.

    Stop avoiding the problem and start being honest.

    Open the envelopes, call—or even better—visit your bank or broker. Be realistic. So many of us are living in the illusion of total scarcity. Look at what really did happen during the last few months. Get some help. You aren’t supposed to be an expert. Most of us feel intimidated when it comes to money, but the truth is we were never given a proper education about it. You’re not alone. Everyone feels the same way to some degree. But avoiding the subject of money would be like saying, learning to walk is too difficult, so I’m not going to do it. Learn the basics. You’ll feel more grounded. And make sure to hire a banker or accountant you feel good about.

  • 10 Smart Money Moves to Make in Tough Times©2009 Jupiterimages CorporationSimply start by recognizing the problem and getting organized.

  • 2.

    Get organized.

    Know where your accounts, credit-card statements, insurance documents, will, etc. are. Most of us feel overwhelmed because we just don’t know where all of this stands. Often, it’s not the lack of money but more the general level of uncertainty and messiness around this topic.

  • 3.

    Review your statements.

    Get a feel for what you are spending. Where is your money really going? You may often find some errors and double charges. Look at hidden fees from all the bills you pay. Confirm that some of your regular income is going to a savings account on a monthly basis. If you have an investment account, take a close look at what you have: stocks, funds, bonds, cash, gold. Know what you have and then ask yourself how it feels. You don’t need to have a finance background to know whether your money situation is letting you sleep at night.

  • 4.

    Get back to basics.

    This applies to every area of your life. Do you need to be spending so much on margaritas? Do you need another pair of jeans or shoes? Do you need a gym membership in a hot club you never use? Everyone knows where they are “leaking” money. For some it’s on clothes, others it’s food, and others it’s on personal beauty treatments. Ask yourself what changes you can make that only you would notice.

  • 5.

    Find another source of income, in addition to your regular job.

    Can you find a way of creating something, consulting, writing, translating, editing, babysitting, taking care of an elderly person, promoting something, or organizing something? The possibilities are endless. Here’s a clue—look for a way to take away someone’s pain, or problem. That’s what people will pay money for. What are you really good at? What is easy for you? Stretch your identity of what else you might be able to do, other than your regular job. And if you are the creative type, which deep down we all are, think about writing an ebook on a subject you know a lot about. There are plenty of sites that will put it up for free. You can then be making money while you sleep. That’s the goal.

  • 6.

    Ask for discounts and special offers on everything.

    Think about how you can save on cable, phone bills, clothes, restaurants, or any work-related deals. Negotiate from the heart. Come from a place of authenticity and ask sincerely. You will be amazed at what you can receive.

  • 7.

    Look around for things you own that you can sell.

    Your junk is worth something to someone else. You have thousands of dollars hidden in things you don’t really want or use anymore. Yes, this takes a bit of time but the payoff in terms of money, less clutter and freeing up space for something new to come into your life is well worth it.

  • 8.

    Not that this is a must, but if you had to radically downsize your life, how would you do this?

    Would you move? Would you cook more or grow your own food? What would you do? Just knowing this will push you to live differently, with a higher level of consciousness.

  • 9.

    Take a look at your beliefs and emotions around money.

    Most of us picked these up from our parents. One of them was probably fearful or always worried. Maybe one of them over-spent or was in debt. Think about it. You are now an adult and don’t have to be loyal to their beliefs around money. If you do feel anxious about money, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “Where have I seen this before?” Commit to making a fresh start.

  • 10.

    Be grateful for what you do have.

    We have so much more than 95% of the planet. Bless what you have. Find ways of giving. If it’s not money, give your time and your heart. The more you give, the more life finds ways to give back.

  • Ariane de Bonvoisin is author of The First 30 Days; Your Guide to Making any Change Easier and founder of www.first30days.com.