Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Money Advice

I did not write the following information, I got it from Yahoo. It has some good money advice in it. Along these same lines of thinking, I had Ron show me how to create a simple spreadsheet, for me to use to compare grocery prices. I use a few coupons, but my problem with coupons is when they are used to buy items that you would not normally buy- just because you have a coupon. It is a better plan, for me, to buy my "regular stuff" from whatever store has the best price on those items. And to take advantage of "sales" on those items. I am still in the process of collecting my information, but I have been surprised at how much the prices can vary from one store to another. I now have all of these prices on a piece of paper rather than in my head :)

First Person: How the Recession Made Me Smarter Financially

tweet6EmailPrintMimi Bullock, On Tuesday November 8, 2011, 2:20 pm EST

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

As a small-business owner and the parent of two children who like to shop, I'm not ignorant about the economy. From gas prices to grocery bills, I've seen everything increase except my income. Instead of bemoaning my situation and falling apart, I've decided to focus on the positive aspects. One good thing that has come from these hard economic lessons is that I'm financially smarter. I manage my household and business affairs more smoothly and tightly than anytime before.

That's not to say I won't welcome economic relief, but I have learned a thing or two. Today, many things I've experienced have made me a better businessperson and household manager.

I make saving a priority. Strangely enough, getting loans isn't easy today. Lesson one, always save. Every paycheck, every contract paid, squirrel away something. Some weeks I could save only a few dollars, others times I saved a few hundred. Before the recession, I lived with minimal savings and threw sudden expenses like car repairs on my credit card. No more! (On a side note, I've noticed my kids save more now, too. Not only am I smarter, but they are too.)

I pay debts on time or early. When every dollar counts, high interest rates aren't an option. I pay my debts on time, and I pay them down as quickly as possible. I know a healthy amount of debt is good for your credit, but I feel better knowing my debt is small. That's good for me mentally.

I know how to price-match. Before the recession, my husband and I saw what we wanted and then purchased it. Today, we don't make snap decisions about high-priced items. We've adopted a two-day price-match rule for big-ticket items. We search the Web and call or visit stores for the best deal. Never, ever rely on one store to give you an honest "best" price. I do my own homework.

I question my purchases. Before 2008, I was an impulse buyer. I loved walking into stores shopping for "sales" even when I didn't need the items. I don't do that anymore. I don't buy things unless I need them, and I stay away from sales and discount stores.

I know more. Until a few years ago, I couldn't care less about the stock market. I know that's crazy because I'm a business owner, but it all seemed so far away from me. Today, I watch business shows at least once a week and I know the basic business terms. Learning how the financial markets work makes me feel empowered and less helpless--even when I'm pumping $4 a gallon gas.

I plan ahead. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a freewheeling, spontaneous kind of gal. Today, I'm much more careful. I don't just hope and expect a good future, I plan for it. I've even met with a financial planner. I think about what the next five, 10, and 20 years will bring, and I have a plan. That lesson has kept me sane.

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