Thursday, 31 January 2013

Being a Financially Responsible Member of Society

Being financially responsible can be a really hard thing. I’ve always considered myself to be good with money, and I still think I am, however I have debt, like most people. My goal this year is to pay off as much of my debt as I possibly can. I’ve just found a job and I started the second week of January. I am currently getting full-time hours, but I was hired as part-time. I’m living with my parents which helps keep my bills low and I do not have a car. So the question becomes, how can I help dig myself out of this world of debt?

First of all, I need to work as much as I can. As I said, I am working full-time hours right now, but I was only hired for part-time. That means that at any time they could cut my hours down and my income could be drastically reduced. I am accepting any shifts that are offered to me and when the chance to leave early is offered, I do not take it (while it may be tempting, I don’t want to lose that money.) My other option that I am still considering is to get a second job. Because I work early mornings at my main job, I can only work a second job in the afternoon as I’m in bed super early at night. Finding a job that is looking for someone available seven days a week between the hours of 1 and 7 will probably prove to be difficult, but I will give it a shot! Another way to boost my income is Bramley Designs. I have been trying to create new items to sell (and I’m using supplies I already own) and doing things such as having an open house. This is something I really enjoy doing, so it doesn’t really feel like “work”, but in reality, it IS work for me because it is a way for me to bring in more money.

Second, I need to be smart about the bills I do have. I am living at home with my parents and this drastically cuts down my rent cost. Of course I give my parents money for living at home (I would never expect them to house, feed, and share transportation with me for nothing), but the amount they charge me is much lower than if I lived on my own. I also give my parents money for car insurance and to help with the cats (food and litter.) Aside from this, the only other bill I have is my cell phone. I am not willing to give up my long distance or my data (we do not have the internet at home, so my data is the only internet access I have at home. When I post these blog posts I do it from the library.) I am willing to sacrifice things in order to have the cell phone plan I do, though. Keeping my bills low has been really helpful in paying more toward my debt.

Third, I have been doing some research, I bought a Money-Saving Tip of the Day calendar, and I’ve been coming up with my own ideas on how to save money. During my research, I have learned that saving money in a clear piggy-bank actually deters you from taking anything out of it because you can see that money growing. I do not have a clear piggy-bank, nor was I going to go out to buy one, so I am using a cleaned out apple cider bottle. Most of the cash I get goes in there (I’ve had to use some of it here and there, but I HATE taking money out of it.) I’ve managed to accumulate over $100 in there since the beginning of January. My money-saving calendar is a lot of fun. A lot of it doesn’t apply to me right now because I am living at home and not on my own, but every day I get excited to see what the next tip will be! Here are some examples:

*DON’T BE SCARED OF THE WORD ‘BUDGET.’ Make yourself a spending plan so that you are spending your money on important things that you ‘need’ vs. what you ‘want.’
*BORROW, DON’T BUY...CDs, DVDs. Set up a lending library with your friends or co-workers listing the music and movie discs you’re all happy to lend out.
*SQUEEZING $$ FROM TUBES. Cut open ‘empty’ tubes to get the last drops of toothpaste, face creams, ointments, sunscreens, etc. Often a week’s worth of product is still inside.
*POTLUCK WITH FRIENDS. Arrange a monthly potluck dinner with family members or different groups of friends. Everyone saves $, exchanges recipes, and has a great time.
*DON’T OVERLOOK YOUR LOCAL FLEA MARKET. Some merchants sell household supplies, cleaners, soaps and toothpaste at wholesale prices. Carefully inspect merchandise from flea markets before buying.
*CHEAPER NIGHTS OUT. Bars, dance clubs and restaurants can really strain one’s finances. Try less expensive alternatives like “Board Game Night” or “Cards Night” with your friends.
*FREE MAGAZINES SHELF. Start a shelf in the lunchroom where you and your co-workers can re-use/recycle reading materials, like magazines or books.
*SELL UNUSED STUFF ON EBAY OR CRAIGSLIST. One person’s “junk” might be another person’s treasure...and you’ll get some cash out of the deal.
*DRINK COFFEE AT HOME AND LIMIT YOUR INTAKE. Save big $, maybe $500 or more per year, by getting out of the habit of buying fancy high-priced coffee at trendy coffee shops.

I could go on and on with these lol. Each day is a great tip, whether it is big or small, and it’s fun to see how else you can save money. Ideas I have come up with myself for saving money include not buying books and challenging myself to not spend money for a designated amount of time. We all know I’m a huge reader. I don’t buy all of the books that I read, I do try my best to take advantage of libraries and friends bookshelves, however there are books that I DO buy (if they are new and I buy them in paperback I will borrow the hardcover from the library and then buy the paperback when it is released. That in itself saves me a minimum of $20.) At this very moment, I own 189 books that have NOT BEEN READ. Crazy, right? A bunch of those I will probably end up getting rid of and selling them either on Kijiji or at a used bookstore (I’m only keeping books I really love and ones I can see myself re-reading.) Last year I challenged myself not to buy any books for June, July and August. I succeeded in this challenge, except for one book I picked up in August. Since I felt so good about the first time, I am trying it again. Right now I am not buying any books for the winter season. This challenge started on December 21st and I have not purchased ANY books for myself since! I purchased one book for my mom for her birthday, but that does not count toward my challenge as it was not for myself. I find that the longer you go without something, the easier it is. I can’t live without books, but that doesn’t mean I need to buy everything. Not working at a bookstore certainly helps with not buying books! My latest challenge is to designate a specific period of time in which I will not spend money on ANYTHING. There are certain times at which I have to spend money (to make debt payments, pay a bill, etc.) so I will not choose a time in which I get paid. Starting February 2nd, I am challenging myself not to spend $0.01 on a thing for 7 days. I know it will be tough, but it’s definitely possible. For me, this includes not using gift cards either. Another thing I am trying to do is shop around. I am not willing to go out of my way to save $0.10 (you end up spending more in gas), but out of the few places I am near on a regular basis, I am going to make a list of the prices of the things I buy so I can find out where is the cheapest.

I hope you have enjoyed my personal post for this week. Talking about money can be a very tough thing and it’s hard to admit when you are in debt. I hope to be debt free in the very near future and I am going to do everything I can to make this a reality. You do not have to be like me and put this on a blog post, but if you have debt, you should talk about it with someone. It makes it real, makes you take it more seriously, and other people can give you great ideas on how to go about making your debt disappear. Best of luck!

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