Times are tough. Financial pressure can impact your physical and mental health, your relationships, and your ability to be a good spouse, parent, and employee. Here are some great ways to lower your stress by making a few simple changes in the way you “do life” and handle your money.
•If you don’t need it, sell it: All of us have stuff that we no longer need or want, and much of it has value. If you have lots of small items, consider having a garage sale. If you have large items or items that have significant value, post them on Craigslist or eBay. Selling your “extra stuff” has the double benefit of clearing out unwanted clutter and giving you some extra cash.
•Don’t pay retail: Almost anything you need or want can be purchased at a discount. Shopping at discount retail stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx lets you wear the latest fashions without having to pay full retail price. Use coupons and buy in bulk whenever possible. Know retailers’ seasonal sale cycles and wait for sales. And don’t overlook shopping online. Not only is it easier to comparison shop, but many online retailers offer promotions and discount codes that can save you tons of money.
•Brew your own coffee: Sometimes it’s the small things that are the difference between budgeting success and failure. That cup of coffee you buy on the way to work probably costs you between $2 and $5. On an annual basis, that can easily cost you $400 to $1,000! For much less than what you would spend on your favorite latte, you can brew your own premium brand coffee and add just about any flavor imaginable. Your morning Cup O’ Joe will be even more enjoyable when you think about the money you are saving.
•Practice the art of bartering: Don’t be afraid to haggle on large purchases and services. When buying something like a water softener, it’s not unusual get a discount by naming your own price or by asking for free “add-ons” like a supply of softener salt. Many companies such as those in the home remodeling and construction industry are scrambling for business in this difficult economy. Most tradesmen are willing to forgo larger profit margins for the chance to stay busy and maintain a relatively predictable income. Negotiating can even work with retailers, especially if you can point to offers from their competitors.
•Be a smart Back-to-School shopper: Labor Day sales are a retailer’s last big opportunity to push Back-to-School sales and deals. Many Labor Day sale items are holdovers from summer and are deeply discounted, but they are still in fashion and can often be worn by many kids into or through the fall. Don’t stray too far from your “needs list.” The urge to buy extra clothes and supplies during the Back-to-School savings blitz is tempting, but acting on the urge can drive up your costs and leave you with little left for those unexpected expenses that are sure to crop up after classes begin. Weekly circulars from your local supermarket or drug store often offer discount pricing on school supplies to encourage customers to shop in their stores. Kid-oriented stores like Gap and Old Navy offer great deals that are typically updated each week beginning in mid to late July through the end of August.
Paul Vazquez is the Director of Media Relations at Keycode.com , an online coupon and promotion code company. The vision of Paul and his two partners at Keycode.com is to help consumers find outstanding online deals and discounts by offering the best available coupons and promotion codes to online shoppers from over 3,000 retailers.