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We are living in pretty tough economic times. Matter of fact, people that didn't have to pay much attention to their spending or finances, are now having to do so.  Every day we listen to gloom and doom on the news. If you buy into the negative reports, you will feel like there is no hope for the future. The reality is that there are many people losing their jobs, some businesses are failing, and some people are losing money on their investments. The other reality: "This season shall pass."  

Okay, so yes things are bad for many people. But what are you going to do about your situation? Even if it looks like there is no room to cutback or save, there is always something you can do to make your financial circumstances better. Keep reading—Below are a few tips to help you find extra money in your budget to pay bills, pay off debt, and start saving.

Evaluate how much phone service you really need. If you do not need a landline, get rid of it. If you do need a landline, get the phone features that you absolutely need not just want. For example, do you really need three-way calling, call forward or the whole complete package? Do you need a cell phone? If so, how many minutes on your plan do you really need?  This is the season to evaluate what your real needs and wants are.

Turn off the lights, radio and television when you leave a room. Run the dishwasher, dryer and washer only when the load is full. Turn down your hot water heater a few degrees, and turn it off completely when you go on vacation. Lastly, wash your clothes in cold water, and be sure to take out the lint after each load you dry. It will help the clothes dry faster and cut down on electricity.

Start cooking more. Each week come up with a menu and shop based on your menu for the week. Before you go shopping, go through your kitchen and take inventory to make sure you do not duplicate items. Cook 2-3 times a week, but cook larger amounts. For example, cook two-to-three main dishes and three vegetables. Depending on your family size the food could last you three days. The plus, you may end up cooking only twice a week. Also, when you go out to eat, get the "early bird" specials. Additionally, use buy one get one free coupons for restaurants.    

Get movies, cd's, dvd's, books, and tapes from the library. They are free! Look through your local newspaper to see what free events are coming up in your city. If you go to the movie theater, bring your own popcorn, candy, juice or water. How about having a game or craft night with family and friends, and have everyone bring their favorite dish.

The bottom line, if you want to get through tough times now and in the future, you have to make adjustments with your mind, habits, and spending. Also, you have to stay focused and know what your priorities are. You will be surprised how little adjustments and changes will save you money to get through uncertain times.

Sharman Lawson a columnist on Fabulously40, and a financial coach, speaker, and author of the book 12 Steps to Eliminate Debt Forever! Visit her website: [Link Removed]

Sharmanl, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


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