According to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, the top financial priority of American families is to simply get caught up on the bills. This is complicated by a record number of Americans completely out of the work force and not actively seeking employment. The new jobs being created are temporary and low income in nature. And traditional jobs are being replaced by automation. The “American Dream” is being transformed, or at least altered, and a lot of people are struggling with that reality.
These realities are forcing us to take hard looks at where we are spending our money. All of us wish to provide comfortable and safe lives for our families. In addition, we would like to have enough left over for future expenses, such as college and retirement. However, the expenses of the family are skyrocketing, while salaries stay flat.
That’s why it is important that we take a look at the most common financial priorities of the family. Survivors learn to adapt and improvise. So let’s examine how we can work to meet them in this new reality by cutting costs and eliminating expenses.
Priority number one is putting a roof over the family head. The mindset of huge and luxurious homes as the indicator of success was shattered to pieces in the housing crash of 2008. More and more people have joined the movement of downsizing. It’s not about having more garage doors than the next guy. It’s about local education, safety, quality of life, and affordability. If your mortgage is eating your budget like a bad sci-fi movie, don’t be afraid to reconsider how you’re living.
We waste a lot of food. We also waste a lot of money on food. Eating out at restaurants too often adds up. The way to get our food budgets under control is using a method of careful meal planning. Buy your groceries knowing specifically what you are going to need and save “going out” for special occasions, choosing local venues that offer quality in return for your money.
3. Hobbies and Activities
Remember when riding a bike meant picking up your Schwinn where it was probably laying in the yard and taking off as is? Nowadays you have to be dressed and trained like Lance Armstrong and have a ride good enough for the Tour de France. The things we like to do in our free time eat up a lot of resources that are needed elsewhere. Be more efficient perhaps buying secondhand or discounted gear. For instance, I’ve played drums since I was 10 years old. I can make a cheap drum set sound good, and I can make a world class drum set sound good. It’s in the technique. Learning technique is mostly free.
Your teenager says, “Oh my gosh” when she sees a new blouse she likes. You say, “Oh my gosh” when you sees the price tag. The cost of clothing ourselves is expensive. That same blouse will be 50-70% off in few weeks. Practice financial discipline by knowing when to purchase. We all want to make our kids happy, but their happiness won’t be found in wasting valuable resources for a temporary feeling. She will most likely see a new favorite blouse in a store as soon as tomorrow.
5. Organize Resources Wisely
If we practice discipline and dig deep, we’ll find that there is disposable income we can harvest from our waste. Turn that waste into valuable future resources. College funds, wedding funds, retirement, vacations, etc. Our new cultural mindset should be to dispose of waste. Our grandparents did. What are we doing?
SOUND OFF: Where in your family budget can you find tremendous waste of valuable resources?
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