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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Tips for surviving hard times


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Tips for surviving hard times

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There will be no quick turnaround in the economy; we can expect to struggle on with our finances for a good while yet. With your debt situation controlled as discussed in the last article, here then are some more important tips in handling your finances during these hard times:
Examine your budget. Start first by reviewing your spending. Are there some expenses that you can do without? Are there luxuries that can be cut back? Scrutinize every single expense for the opportunity to reduce the cost in your budget. Treat every penny that you spend as precious; wherever possible, find ways to spend less. 
Proactively seek way to reduce even the essential expenses. Maybe you can approach your landlord and ask for a reduced rent payment; he may prefer to keep you rather than lose a reliable tenant and have to search for a new tenant that may be worse to deal with. 
Reduce your cost for food and try to minimize the funds expended. For example: eat out less; take a packed lunch to work; reduce the use of bottled water; grow your vegetables and spices; and buy in bulk in order to access cheaper prices.
Take care of your possessions such as your car, your furniture and your clothes – so they last longer. Ask for discounts at every turn. The worst that can happen is that you are refused, yet you may be surprised more often than you think. Even the merchants are seeing difficult times and would rather not lose a sale.
Avoid excesses. Do you really need a second vehicle? Do you need that new, fancy evening dress/suit right now? Must you have the latest Blackberry mobile phone? Do you need all of those features on your car/telephone/appliance or other gadget? This may be a good time to consider carpooling with a neighbour or friend.
Find cheaper recreation. When it comes to your recreation and entertainment, search out free public events. Relatively cheap, wholesome and fun recreation can be sought through hikes, picnics with family and friends, pot luck parties held at home, and games evenings. When vacation time comes around, why not holiday at your own home paradise? Barbados has lots of interesting and beautiful places to see and enjoy that can cost less than making an overseas trip.
Hold on to your job. Even if it pays a meagre amount, this is not the time to lose your employment. It may be a period of more work and even less pay because that is typically the effect of recessionary times on businesses. Accept the changes and keep positive.
In fact, flee negative people like the plague and wherever possible volunteer even more than usual, displaying the most positive of attitudes. During recessionary times, cash is king and your job is your sure source of a steady stream of cash.
Make your hobby pay. Hard times usually find you with less cash and more time on your hands. That is when you should try to make the most of that excess time. If you have a hobby, think of a way of making it generate cash or reduce your spending. Are you good at fixing cars? Can you style/cut hair? Do you enjoy growing/arranging flowers? Are you willing to run an errand for someone? Just consider how your interest could reduce your own cost or someone else’s and make that service/product count in value. 
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management advisor, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances.

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