Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Money On Mondays - A Penny For Your Thoughts

Some of you (my large following, ha-ha) may have noticed that I seem to be a day or so behind in getting my postings done and I find myself  playing catch  up quite often lately.  Of course, I can say I was very busy during the holidays!  But I realize now, how paid reporters and columnists often have to deal with the stress of meeting deadlines.  Well doing this blog of mine is self-inflicted, so it's not like I got this imposed on me.  It is of my own chosing that I wanted to post something daily, and by naming a topic for each day, I thought it would give me some direction.

So what can I say about money?  Don't know if I have any great advice to give.  Maybe no one wants my advice!  But I've said before, even if hardly anyone is reading this but me, it's still worth doing.  Why?  Because it's a form of therapy for myself.  I've heard that mental health professionals sometimes ask their patients to write down their thoughts.  So maybe I'm saving myself huge amounts of MONEY by doing this blog!  I'm not saying my troubles are all that bad.  However, we are living in troubled times, and I do worry. 

Most of us are watching our pennies, especially nowadays.  More of us are scoping out the sales, clipping coupons, and even doing without certain luxuries if we don't have the money for it.  Eating out at restaurants and going to the movies can be considered luxuries now.  Brown bagging your lunch, skipping Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and instead, making your own coffee at home and bringing it in a insulated mug saves you money.  Don't buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned.  Additionally, for the women, you can maintain your own hair and nails at home too.  Of course, all that I'm suggesting here will be hurting these businesses, which is not good for the economy right now either.  I actually don't want to see any more businesses closing their doors, but it's survival of the fittest right now.   

I heard it reported that more people are using their credit cards less, because of what the banks are doing with the increases in interest rates and late fees.  The ultimate is when you can get to the point where you only charge what you can afford to pay off every month.  Don't carry a balance, if you can help it.  Also, having the type of credit card where your card compay pays you rebates for certain purchases like gas or groceries is the best way to go.  I prefer the ones who give you cash, well actually it's a check, or give you the choice of using your rebate towards paying down your balance, instead of using your rebate at a list of stores like a gift card.  But that, once again, hurts some businesses.  However, as of now, you should have the attitude that charity begins at home. 

I started saving my loose change in a big glass bottle awhile back.  It will surprise you how fast that can build up.  I just hope inflation doesn't happen, to where our dollar keeps getting devalued, and is worth less and less.  It's our country's massive debt that will be causing that.  So we should all be paying off as much debt as we can.  The government should be taking this advice too! 

It's hard to know what to invest in, that is if you have any extra cash to put towards savings.  It's nice if your employer offers you the option of a credit union, where an amount you choose can be deducted from your paycheck.  Some people need every penny of their paycheck, but if you tighten your belts, and you can afford to have that money taken out before you get your hands on it, it's actually called paying yourself first.  It forces you to get by with a little less take home money too.  It's important to have that rainy day fund.  But, on the down side, banks or credit unions aren't paying very much in interest right now.  The stock market is still kind of shaky too.  So it's hard to know what to do as far as investing goes. 

Just being able to pay your basic everyday bills is a blessing right now.  Having a roof over your head, some food in your refrigerator and pantry, a warm bed at night, a car that starts in this cold weather in the morning, and a job to go to, are all things to be thankful for.  And I can't forget mentioning, if you and your family are fairly healthy, that's a blessing too.  So as bad as it seems at times, we have to hang in there and be grateful for the basic little things....that really aren't so minor.   

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