Living resourcefully is not just about money. It is about using all the tools in the toolbox to achieve what you want in life.
I am quite sure you have heard one of these phrases before as it relates to being resourceful, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” The familiar phrases still ring true today for a plan of living resourcefully. While I stated before that while living resourcefully is not just about money, let us start with financial resources to find ways to help stretch our dollar further.
Before You Buy
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How often will I get use from this item?
- Will it appreciate or depreciate?
- How many hours do I need to work to pay for this item?
- Can I afford it right now without going into debt?
Eliminate Spending Leaks
It’s difficult to change your spending behavior until you know how and where you are spending money. Step one in eliminating spending leaks is to track every dollar, every debit swipe, every cash withdrawal, and every transaction for at least one month. Once you have a spending record, then divide it into spending categories that make sense to you and tally up your totals for each category. Be on the lookout for those small but regular reoccurring expenses like coffee, snacks, fast food, or membership fees. If you purchased a drink at an upscale coffee or smoothie shop 3-4 times a week, you are likely spending nearly $1,000 a year on drinks! I am sure you can think of many other examples of spending leaks, but remember cutting down is easier than cutting out altogether. Instead of 3-4 drinks a week, try cutting back to one. Give yourself some grace, but do not allow your leaks to sink the ship!
Actively Manage Your Credit
A poor credit score can cost you tons of money over time in increased interest rates and insurance rates, just to name a few. Know what debt is reporting to the credit bureaus and be sure that it is reporting correctly. Pay your bills on time and never late. Do not max out your credit cards and keep credit limits below 30% of its available credit limit (10% utilization is best). Review your credit reports at least every quarter at www.annualcreditreport.com and challenge any items that appear incorrect.
Use Your Gifts & Talents
We are were born with gifts and talents. What are yours, and how can you use it to gain profit? What can you do, or what do you have that you could exchange for something you need? Can you cook, sew, clean, braid hair, organize, write, sell unwanted items, or be creative in arts? Using your gifts and talents can reduce the impact of living costs and allow you to save money for times of unforeseen financial setbacks.
Use Your Community Resources
Look for low-cost or no-cost resources in your community. At the click of a button (computer, cell phone, landline, laptop, iPad), you can literally find free resources in your community. Simply type “free community resources near me,” and you’ll likely find a Community Resource Directory for your area, or you can always dial “211,” which is a vital service that connects millions of people to the help they need every year. If you need assistance finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services, use the 211 as a resource to help you.