Introduction: Lessen Your Stress in Today's Economy
Feeling overwhelmed and consumed with life’s problems?
When it comes to stress today most people have one thing in common. Money. It doesn’t seem to matter if you make oodles of money or are living paycheck to paycheck; everyone is stressed about having enough of it.
I know, people who live paycheck to paycheck don’t buy that but it’s true. There’s a lifestyle that goes hand in hand with having money and it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into.
So, without going down that particular road of discussion, I thought I’d share some tried and true tips that apply to everyone. The goal is to survive this economy and cut some of the stressors back so you can enjoy life more. A stress prune, you might say.
Most of these are free or very cheap to apply and fair warning, some are biggies! You don’t have to do them all, but consider trying a couple of them.
I’ll start with lifestyle changers.
Step 1: Downsize
Downsize ~ everything that you can, but especially where and how you live.
Move to a smaller house, or to an apartment. You’ll save on utilities and services, and you may gain extras like a pool and gym.
Cut your cable to basic service, use an antenna, or cut service altogether. Most things are online now, and you can rent movies.
Bundle your services. Combine phone, cable, and Internet.
Drop your landline and go to just a cell phone if you can, and use a non-contract company. They’re more reliable than you think, and usually have unlimited talk and text.
Consolidate credit cards onto one or two cards at a better interest rate if possible.
Simply paying $5-10 dollars extra on your car payment will affect your amount due each month, lessening it. Just keep paying the regular amount plus the extra so that if you have a tight month because of other bills, you only have the reduced amount actually due.
Keep your vehicles maintained. Just keeping the tires inflated at the proper pressure will raise your gas mileage making fill-ups less frequent.
Buy groceries at discount stores instead of the big supermarkets. This means:
~ Buy produce at local farmer markets, or farm co-ops if possible.
~ Buy dry goods at stores like Wal-Mart and Sav-On Foods, etc.
~ Buying at Sam’s and Costco are only helpful if you have storage room and you forego the ringer items that aren’t so cheap after all.
Change your food habits.
~ Eat meat less often. I’m amazed at how many people eat it daily.
~ Add more fish, pasta, home made pizza, soups, potato dishes etc.
~ Eat simple foods and desserts such as fresh fruit with cream.
~ Drink less soda, and more ice water, tea, lemonade, etc.
Eat out at restaurants less. Make it a treat again, instead of a fall back plan.
Downsize paid kids activities if possible and look at cheaper alternatives.
~ Consider groups for things like music lessons where the fee is smaller.
Encourage entrepreneurship in your kids. This means minimal parental oversight.
~ Animal care such as dog walking, bathing, pet sitting, etc.
~ Yard maintenance in the neighborhood; raking, mowing, weeding, watering, etc.
~ Computer help in the neighborhood if your child is an IT wizard like mine is.
~ Babysitting. A babysitting safety course is available for a minimal fee through the Red Cross and is a great confidence booster and selling point.
~ Jewelry or craft making that can be sold at craft fairs or on Ebay safely.
~ Tutoring if your child is an expert at something school related.
~ Music mentoring or teaching lessons to other kids for a nominal fee.
Step 2: Lastly
Lastly, look at home maintenance issues to see if you can cut costs there.
~ Block or fix drafty doors and windows.
~ Check with your utility to see if they have programs or incentives to upgrade windows, doors, heaters, or other appliances.
~ Consider using a space heater.
~ Fireplaces and woodstoves are great, but need to be efficient and absolutely need to have the chimney cleaned periodically for safety.
~ Consider using brighter but fewer lights in your house.
~ Use cold water for laundry as much as possible.
~ Always run your dishwasher full, but also consider washing dishes by hand. Making it a family activity can make it less of a chore and can build good memories if you make it fun.
Step 3: Conclusion
Again, these are a few things to try if you’re at your wits end about how to cut costs. I’d love to hear more ideas from readers who have other tried and true tips I didn’t mention.
There’s something to be said about simplicity. It makes the heart calm, the stress less, and the joy deeper because your mind is free to see the joyful things. Downsizing is scary to most people, yet so very liberating. Try one or all of these tips and see for yourself. Reach for the joy!