The holiday season has ended, but the bills and debts of yesteryear seemed to have never stopped. And it’s always the same story…as soon as you think you’re pulling ahead, the car needs a new set of tires, the water heater busted and you didn’t get that raise you thought you’d get. Will this thing ever end?
About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article featured on Holy Culture called “Help Save Ben Franklin (5 Tips to Help You Save Money)”. It brought five tips to the table to help save your boy Ben. Read up on that article before continuing to read here. I’ll wait for you to get done…
Welcome back…Before we actually get to the tips, let’s checks the facts as they’ve changed since the last episode. The United States debt now stands well over $14.1 TRILLION dollars. In a similar fashion, the average American has over $52,000 in personal debt (enough to pay cash money for a 2011 Lincoln Navigator!). For those who know me, you already know I’m well above average…in 2006, the wife and I were $80K in debt between student loans, two car payments and three credit cards. So I decided to start tracking our debt and seeing what we could do to BYOB…”Bring Your Own Bailout” because the Government wasn’t going to do it for me! As of February 3, 2011, our debt is just over $16,000. No car payments, no credit card bills, definitely less headache. We watched what we spent and used the rest to pay things off. Like before, I challenge you to follow these tips and see if your paycheck stretches a little further than it did before…help save Ben Franklin.
Look for “Unclaimed Cash”. About a year ago, a family member told me my name was in a State database for unclaimed money/property. Sure enough, I had $23 due to me from a company that I didn’t know owed me money in the first place. Many State territories have a Comptroller or Treasury Office with a searchable database. Put your or your business name into the search and see what it do! After I found my name on the list, I started looking up the names of friends and family members, even places like my dentist. I have put people onto over $6,000 in unclaimed money. Check it out for free on a national level at Missing Money. Be sure to post a reply onto this article if you find unclaimed money…
Eat Out Less. I looked up all the times the family and I used our debit card during the month of January. I was shocked to see we spent almost $350 above what we normally pay for our groceries! In my defense, I often dine out because it’s selfishly easier to hit the local take out spot than it is to make my own meal. After looking at these stats though, I think it’s time for me to stop being so lazy. And let’s not even get started on how much more healthy you can make your own meal versus hittin’ the local burger joint and all those medical bills that can come with it. If you eat out too much and want to save money, then packing your lunch like its 6th grade all over again.
Cut the Fat. Consider going through all of your “haves” and figure out which are really “musts”. Just before my son was born, we decided to cut our cable contract and go with the local channels. At about $35/month, that saved us $420.00/year. Good look! What about your cell phone (my phone is does everything except make phone calls)? My data plan is $25/month per phone, plus $30/month for unlimited texting and another $70/month for the minutes. Obviously that’s a total of $150 a month for two cell phones. Dag! I’m not saying you necessarily need to cut your services, but shop around for the best rate when your contract is up. This includes all recurring bills (insurance, energy, even credit cards). What non-essentials can you reduce to ensure you’re being a good steward?
Coupons All Day. This is probably the cheesiest of all the tips but there’s a lot to be said about snippin’ some coupons. A dollar here or twenty-five cents there, it all starts adding up. The secret to using coupons isn’t to cut out any and every discount offer but to do it tactically. By this, you should determine which items are on sale and combine it with a manufacturer or store coupon. For example, a twelve pack of Holy Culture Cola costs $2.50. You find a coupon giving you $1.00 off. That same item goes on sale next week for $1.50. If you can wait until next week for some Holy Culture Cola, add the coupon and you got it for $.50! Who wouldn’t want Holy Culture Cola for only $.50?! I’m just sayin. All in all, you can save a lot of money by paying closer attention to sales ads and coupons.
One Family, One Page. It’s difficult to save money if the people you’re around aren’t on the same page as you. When you go on a diet, you pass on grandma’s chocolaty chocolate chunks because you want to slim down. Your family and friends respect that and usually won’t offer a second time. In the same way, let people know you’re rocking a financial diet. It doesn’t mean you stop having fun, it just means you stop paying full price for fun – just look for discounts, half-price days or free activities. Chances are good your friends will be cool with saving money on their end too. Since you came up with the great idea to save money in the first place, you can always encourage them to buy your lunch…yet another money saving tip. Already!
It’s important to save money, but it’s paramount that you’re open to what God would have you do with it. Seek Him and pray for wisdom, even within your finances. And just remember, forget Ben Frank…In God We Trust!
If you need guidance in finding additional resources pertaining to debt relief or just need prayer, please give your boy a shout!