2.3.08

Better Save than Sorry

In today’s almost recession-like living conditions, people are seldom able to escape a debt ridden lifestyle. It doesn’t help that oil prices have astoundingly gone up, everything is running into dizzying speeds - gas is skyrocketing, prescription drugs are up, cash is slow, interest rates are up. Time for debt management.

I must admit that my own family’s financial struggles have been brought about by many unwise money decisions. We handled our finances recklessly. Fact is, our overindulgent use of credit resources have almost led us to bankruptcy. Our lessons were learned the hard way. We managed to stay afloat by employing certain lifestyle changes. First stop is reduce the use of credit. From three credit cards it was cut down to just one. Less temptation, less unprogrammed purchases. Remember, cards have credit limits. Less cards, less limits.

We also learned to use online payment systems regularly so we save on transportation costs. Instead of going to the bank, we have all our bills payable through our bank account. The bank debits our account for utility and credit card payments.

Also instead of mobile voice phone services we started using SMS or text messaging. Eating or dining out became a thing of the past. No more fashionable and expensive gourmet coffee. Up until this time, I didn’t realize a lot of money was spent unnecessarily.

Having a budget and making sure it is followed ensured that all our purchases were and are necessary. I also used discount shopping cards and that was money saved. You see, supermarkets liberally gave away discount points as part of their customer loyalty programs. So customarily, I accumulated shopping points that paid part of my grocery bill.

In the last three years we earned cash by disposing things we did not really need anymore, like old but still wearable jackets or sweaters, denim pants, etc. I sold those items through periodic garage sales. Money saved is money earned.

The financial difficulties we went through taught us that it is okey to spend money but like anything in this life, it should be done judiciously. As a family, the greatest lesson learned was to delay gratification. It is always the first step towards managing finances, including debt.