Economists agree that the last recession ended in June 2009, but that is small comfort for most Americans. With nearly 15 million people unemployed, signs of recovery are nearly impossible to find.
Democrats are blaming Republicans and Republicans are blaming Democrats, with neither side doing much to correct the course our economy has taken. Inflation may be contained, but the housing market is weak, consumer sentiment is unfavorable and businesses are hesitant to add jobs.
For the American consumer, finding ways to save money becomes an important way to reduce their expenses and keep their heads above water. Eventually, the economy is likely to improve, but few of us can wait for that to happen. In the meantime, seeking out cost saving measures becomes critically important for the cash strapped consumer.
Trim the food bill — Saving money on food can be accomplished by purchasing items on sale, clipping coupons and using the store’s consumer card. You can realize additional savings by purchasing some of your food items as a warehouse club such as BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club. You’ll pay $40-50 for your annual membership, but you’ll recover those costs quickly as warehouse club prices average 30 percent lower than supermarkets.
Cut your insurance — You may not be able to do much about reducing your health insurance, but you can raise your deductible to keep annual increases down. Combine your home and auto insurance to one provider and you may be able to save up to 15 percent on each premium. Drop collision on your oldest, paid off car. Shop around for a better life insurance policy.
Slash your utility bills — These days, we have bills for electricity, heat, water, sewer, garbage pickup, recycling, cell phones, landlines, cable or satellite, Internet connection and more. Some services are essential and cannot be cut, but do you need both a landline and a cell phone? If not, ditch the landline. Ask your cable or satellite provider for their best deal, consider combining phone service, Internet connection and TV to one provider.
Buy used, recycle — Recycling isn’t just for cans and bottles! Many Americans are doing the same with clothing, consumer goods, cars and what not, buying what they need through Craigslist, a local bulletin board or from a neighbor. Shiny and new is nice, but that is what gets us into trouble. Consignment shops, tag sales and close-out stores are popular places to shop and save. Consider bartering too: I’ll do for you if you do for me.
Reconsider your leisure costs — How many of us put a price tag on what we spend to amuse ourselves? Besides cable and Internet, are magazines, newspapers, book clubs, wine of the month, museum visits and vacation costs taking their toll? Assess what you spend and how. Consider getting your books from the library, sharing vacation costs with another family, or canceling that unneeded subscription.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is acknowledging that the U.S. economy is “very tough,” with the construction industry struggling. When the politicians “get it” real reform may be on the way no matter what happens at the voting booth in November.
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