2009 saw its fair share of economic hardships. With bank closings, bad mortgages, and unemployment rates at an all-time high, people found themselves cutting back and doing without items that they once purchased and enjoyed.
Family vacations became shorter while the average workday got longer. Items like eggs, milk, and gasoline gradually increased in cost and ate away at even the most liberal budgets. People scaled back, Freecycled, and bought secondhand but could not help feeling the throngs of financial uncertainty.
With the promise of change serving as a backdrop for the previous year’s Presidential Election in the United States, not everyone was convinced that the nation was headed in the right direction. Topics like health care reform and government bailouts were heavily debated on Capitol Hill.
In the worst of times, select cities triumphed. Communities came together and people from around the world shared stories and advice concerning budgeting and other money related matters. Towns printed their own money as a way of stimulating local economies and people learned the power of bartering goods and services through websites and swap meets.
Self-sufficiency became a hot topic as people started growing vegetable gardens, making their own clothes, and repairing items by hand with more fervor than years before. In a sense, many people were more efficient in stretching their dollars.
Although I cannot predict this year’s financial forecast, I can offer you a few thoughtful tips that will help you achieve prosperity in 2010. In no particular order they are:
- Spend less. Find ways to live below your means. Lower the interest rates on your credit cards. Bundle service packages. Skip all the extras offered with your cell phone. Ask for discounts.
- Make more. Create multiple streams of income. Make the internet work for you. List items that you no longer need on Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon.com. Start a small business on the side. Join the ranks of Stay-At-Home Moms and Dads and telecommute. There are a number of ways to make extra money without sacrificing large amounts of your time.
- Get creative. Learn to think outside the box. Rather than use your hard earned cash to buy things, see if you can get them for free or through yard sales, auctions, and thrift stores. Wear things out and repair them yourself. Bake your own birthday cakes. Make your own holiday gifts. Sew and mend your own clothes. Not only will you get the satisfaction of doing-it-yourself, you will also save yourself a mint.
- Connect with others. Join an online community and share your wealth of knowledge about couponing, contesting, and parenting. Having a group of like-minded individuals support you throughout your quest for frugality will make it that much easier. You may also want to update or even create a profile on LinkedIn where you can network with others in your industry.
- Keep your options open. Do not remain committed to one location or employer. If opportunities arise, seize them. If securing a better future requires you to relocate or change jobs, so be it. Bite the bullet and take the plunge. You’ll be thanking yourself in the long run for being so brave.
The key to survival in tough economic times is a positive attitude and the willingness to go the extra mile no matter how difficult or frightening it may be. Being resilient takes persistence. Every challenge produces a number of solutions.
Start the New Year out right. Take an active stance in securing you and your family’s financial future. You’ll thank yourself later on.
Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer for ChickSpeak, Buzzine, DisFUNKshion Magazine, Student Stuff, and a guest contributor for Wisebread. She loves thrift related topics and can spot a bargain a mile away.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.