4 Quick Tips for Getting Out of a Financial Rut

July 24, 2009 at 10:18 pm 4 comments

It’s that time again. The time when all of our plans and invitations have stacked up against us and caused us to bleed financially. This tends to happen in waves, and this summer, we’re feeling the pinch. Over the last couple months, we’ve parted with large sums of money in the form of wedding and birthday gifts, graduation gifts, and a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We also (finally) purchased our bedroom set, an Aerobed, and a new suit for Shawn. In the coming weeks, we’ve got a few more weddings to keep in mind as well.

save_moneyNeedless to say, we’ve been thinking about money. We’re not freaking out, but we need to tighten up a bit. Over the last few years, I’ve found it easier and easier to slip into “saving mode”. 1. because I’ve had to do this before and 2. because we have come up with a systematic game plan. A few months of maintenance and we’re back in business. I suggest the following steps, inspired by Frugal Dad’s post on becoming a debt-killing machine:

  1. Log in to Mint.com. It is the single one budgeting tool my lifestyle has needed. Before Mint.com, I put my bills and recurring payments into cruise control and used a “sense” to determine how much I had left to spend on everything else. A “sense”. Give me a break. Mint.com lets you rope in all of your accounts together so you can see your spending in one place. Your income, transfers, deposits and purchases are then categorized, and you can visually see the graph of your finances, practically in real time. This helps me figure out where I can easily make changes to get back on track.
  2. Find things to cut back on and things to stop spending on entirely. This time around, we took a hit by making several large one-time purchases all at the same time. These aren’t items that were extravagant, but we should have planned on spacing them out over a few months. Now I’m declaring no more big purchases until the holidays. And, no more take out! We say it all the time, but seriously, we need to put Hap’s on hold. Brown bagging it to lunch needs to be an immediate priority and being too lazy to cook on weekend nights means cereal or sandwiches, not take out. Also, I’m looking to cut into some of our bills. Our Comcast Bill is ridiculous, and thanks to the Digerati Life, I know am armed with a script to negotiate a lower monthly payment, which I plan on testing out tomorrow.
  3. Stick to the list. This is one that I’ve gotten much better at over the years. When you head to the grocery store, make a list beforehand, and stick to it. My weakness was always heading down the non-grocery aisles and picking up make-up, magazines and snack items that I didn’t need.
  4. Pay off your debts. I’m not talking longggg term debts like car loans and student loans, but if you’ve been holding onto a couple hundred dollars worth of debt on a credit card or owing someone back for a gift you went in on together, now’s the time to get it squared away. I find this type of debt to be nagging, and even if it means I have to dip into savings to get it off my conscience, it’s much easier to put money back into savings than it is to pay off shallow debts over the course of a long period.
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Entry filed under: Finances.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  July 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I wish I had the script before I called Comcast last week to try to get my cable bill lowered!!! Maybe it would have helped. Let me know how it works for you.. Also… a good trick I started using at the grocery store is only bring in the amount of money I want to spend. I leave my wallet in the car (hidden of course) and that way I have to pay attention to what I’m buying and how much it costs….it’s a good way to avoid impulse buys and stick to the budget.

  • 2. Sandra  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Ohh that’s a really good idea! I would do that except I never have cash on me, I’m the debit queen. Aaaand, I have no concept of how much groceries are; I feel like they change the prices a lot – and often! Maybe if I used your trick, I’d be forced to have a sense of how much everything is… good call!

  • 3. Becky  |  August 10, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Love this post! Great advice. Our family has also had to cut back on a few things and so far it hasn’t been too difficult- although I do have to say not eating out has been difficult, especially after working a 10 day shift. Despite all of this, I have still felt as though I have not been going anywhere and have been trying to study up on how to get out of the financial rut my family has been in. More money is something that I desperately need- without more hours. Libby Gill offers a lot of great advice in her latest book titled,”YOU UNSTUCK.” It helps you see your money mindset in a whole new way. Libby helps you build confidence and competence by guiding you to create an Escalating Risk Hierarchy, where you begin to take small risks that lead to bolder risks over time- ending in success.

  • 4. Sandra  |  September 10, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Becky–that definitely sounds like a book that’s up my alley. Thank you for bringing it to my attention! Though, I am the slowesttttt reader in the world, but I will put it on my To Read list! Hope you’ve found the last month to slow down a bit for you and that you’ve found more success in getting out of your financial rut!

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