Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Time To Tighten Your Belt

As I hear of more and more people being laid off from their jobs or cut back in the number of hours they work, forced to take "comp" time without pay in order to retain their positions, I realize how important it is that we discuss preparing ourselves for the possibility that we may not have a job to go to next week.

I think it is time that we talk about tightening our belts now, so that we have a cushion to fall onto if the rug is pulled out from underneath us.

Don't wait until you hear those dreaded words "I'm sorry we have to cut our workforce back, or we are closing the business."  Prepare and protect yourself now!

Sit down with your budget and a really sharp pencil and start deciding what you can get rid of right now.  Then take the money that you would have spent for that item and put it into a safe place. 

Some ways you can begin to cut expenses:

1. Get rid of Cable TV.  If you just can't bare the idea of parting with it, at least cut back to just the basic plan. Once you have been able to go back to the basic plan for several months you might find that you are ready to go ditch it entirely and go to just a converter box!

2. Go back to a basic phone line or a pay as you go cell phone. Ditch the call waiting, caller id, call forwarding. You don't need all that extra stuff. If someone wants to get a hold of you they'll call back. Go back to the element of surprise of the good old days when you didn't know who was on the other end until you said hello.

3. Stop buying your lunch. Start carrying your lunch to work.  Also stop buying that cup of coffee on the way to work, or the soda on the way home!

4. Make Changes in your car insurance. Increase the deductible, drop some of the different types of coverage, go to just your state minimum coverages for awhile in order to give you more money in your pocket.  If you have an older car, you may want to drop the comprehensive coverage. Instead of carrying uninsured motorist, go to the medical coverage instead. Look into changing companies for a better rate.

5. Increase the deductible on your house insurance. Raise the deductible from $500 to $1000. Look into changing companies for a better rate.

6. Stop buying prepared foods at the grocery store. First of all, most of them are loaded with preservatives that really aren't good for you and for the cost of having prepared foods, you can make them from scratch for about 1/3rd the cost!

7. Start shopping at discount stores,thrift stores and garage sales for clothes. Especially for children's clothes.  They outgrow their clothes before they wear them out and you can pick up lots of really nice things at the thrift store or at garage sales.
8. Freecycle. Type in and insert your zipcode, chances are you are going to come up with a freecycle group in your area. People list all types of items that they are giving away free, all you have to do is let them know you want it and go pick it up. I am continually amazed at the variety of items that are either offered or asked for.

9. Think about possibly refinancing your house. Depending on the interest rate on your home, how many years you still have to pay on the present mortgage, it might be wise to consider refinancing to a lower rate.If you are able to reduce your interest rate by 2.5% or more, and you don't have to come up with money to refinance, it may be worth looking into. With the present lending guidelines of most banks, you will have to have an extremely good credit rating to do this.

If you are pretty close to paying it off (say within 15 years on a 30 year note) it might be wiser to consider putting more money onto each principal payment every month and pay it off early. If you decide to do this, be sure to make a totally separate check out and write on it that it is to be applied to principal only. By doing this, you will also decrease the amount of interest that you are paying on your note.

10. Pay off the Plastic!  Get rid of all your credit cards except for one. Only keep that one for extreme emergencies and hopefully you can ditch it too down the road.  I don't care what the interest rate is that you are paying on your cards, start with the one with the smallest balance. Get it paid off as quickly as possible. Then move to the next card, adding the amount you would have paid on the previous card as a payment along with the amount that you have to pay as a payment on this card and do it religiously every month until paid off.  Do this with each and every card you have until they are all paid in full!

11. Get a part-time job if you are able to find one or create one in order to help get you out of debt.

12. Put in a garden so that you can grow some of your own food, seeds and water are a lot cheaper than buying at the store.

13. When you do have to make purchases, BUY AMERICAN! Help improve our economy by supporting those who keep their businesses here in our country.

14. Wait 24 hours before you buy and pay cash. Plan your purchases don't be an impulse buyer. Be a tightwad now so you can continue later with a life style you want to have.

Believe it or not, the amazing thing is, you are going to find out that it is really great to be able to make a few changes in your lifestyle in order to save money and you will not even consider going back to the way you did things before.  The peace of mind that will come from being debt free and having time to spend with your family will surpass any "stuff" that you thought you had to buy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Working A Temporary Job Through Agencies

I just finished reading an article on the Yahoo financial page regarding temporary work  in case you would like to read it. The article states how in other downturns of the economy, as we began to pull out of the slump, companies would hire temporary workers to fill in the gaps and with the idea that they would become permanent employees in a short period of time.

Things are different this time around. Employers are still very concerned about the stability of the economy so if they are hiring temporary personnel, they are keeping them as temporary at this point in time.

It used to be if you worked for a company as a temporary for about three months, you could almost be assured that you were a good match with the company and would be hired on a permanent basis.

Some reasons that companies are hiring on a temporary basis, is that they do not have to match your Social Security and FICA funds, they do not have to offer you health insurance benefits, they do not have to give you vacation time or enroll you in their retirement programs and they don't have to worry about unemployment benefits if they wish to let you go.

Even though they have the additional cost of hiring someone through a temporary personnel employment agency, it is worth it to them to save all the other expenses of a permanent hire.

After reading the article and with my past experience as a personnel officer for temporary employment agencies, I can see how this type of employment is going to be on the increase for many years to come with our present recovery mode of the economy.

If you are out looking for a job, you can look at this in either a positive or negative way.  I hope you will look at it as an excellent opportunity for you to be able to explore new occupations that you may not have considered in the past.

One of the great things about working as a temporary is that you can get out of an assignment if it isn't a good fit, just as well as the company that needed a temporary!

There could be positions available that are only a day in length to those that are months long. The variety of positions available are numerous and your agency will try to match your skills to those positions that are available.

One of the drawbacks is you never know when you will be called for work and that there can be times between jobs where you will not work and you will worry about having income to come in. That is why many people who work as temporaries will sign up with several different agencies in the hopes of having work through one of them at all times.

If you have been unemployed for any length of time and your networking hasn't seemed to be working and you aren't sure about working from home on your own, perhaps this will be an alternative way for you to find some employment.

**** Please let me know if this article was helpful*******

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Farmer's Markets And Other Ways to Sell and Make Money

Another source of income that you may not have considered would be selling produce, herbs and handmade products at your local farmer's markets, which will be opening up soon.

We have a lot of Farmer's Markets here in Oklahoma not only in many of the small towns but in the large ones as well.  You can usually find anything from fresh produce and eggs to bouquets of fresh flowers and fresh local honey. Some will also have booths where people sell homemade items like baby clothes, quilts, candles, potpourri, homemade soaps, and wooden products like cute plaques for your walls and garden stakes to cutting boards.

You might start checking in now to see what might be available in the way of booth spaces and what other requirements might be needed in order to sell your goods. Some states will require that you have a business license whereas others won't.

Also with spring right around the corner, we will start seeing people having yard sales, or in some parts of the country they are called "tag sales."  Some people have found this to be a very profitable way to get rid of things in their house that they don't really want. Sometimes several neighbors will all go in together and have a big sale which is great because it increases your customer traffic up and down the block.

Others may find it more financially rewarding and less of a hassle to just clean out their closets and take things to either a consignment store or a pawn shop to be put out for sale. Now granted, the consignment store and the pawn shop will take a percentage of the sale of the item, but you will have longer exposure to customers than with a yard sale (some cities only allow you so many per year and also charge you a fee to have one) and the stores also will handle the pricing and the actual sale and all you have to do is come pick up your money when it sells.

Some people have found a little storefront internet site called that has proved to be very profitable for them. There are certain requirements about being homemade items only advertised, but if you are talented and make things it would be a great venue to look into.

Others will advertise on This is something that I have never done personally, but I do know others who have had tremendous success with this.

There are quite a few books out about starting your own home based businesses including

When I started my gift basket business many years ago, one of the books I purchased was this one by Barbara Brabec
I used it to help me decide what type of business I wanted to go into and gave me a ton of valueable information!