Create Your Own Financial Safety Net
By Shannon M. Medisky
Economic times are tough for everyone. From soaring prices and unemployment, it seems the only thing you can really expect is the unexpected. It makes good sense to create a financial safety net for yourself that you can depend on when tough times come your way.
If you’re sitting back in your seat thinking I’m going to write about the importance of a savings account, you’re wrong. Granted, a stash of cash that you can draw from is an obvious advantage, but chances are it’s also a luxury when many of us are working hard just to meet our current financial needs. The great news is that there are many ways you can go about creating a financial safety net for yourself. So, if you can find the extra money in your budget to start stashing cash in a high-interest savings account, great, start doing it. If not, take heart and keep reading to find things you can do.
Stockpile food when there’s savings. Unexpected expenses undoubtedly pop up from time to time and you likely don’t budget for them. You likely do, however, budget groceries on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis, however. Start stockpiling your own staples whenever you can snag them on sale or with great coupons. Whether it’s a stocked pantry or stuffed freezer or-even better-both, stockpiled groceries can be a very real financial safety net. If you already have food in the house that you can use to readily create family favorites without having to spend money, then you can immediately use the budgeted amount ordinarily allotted for food and instead use it to pay for the unexpected.
Small change is nothing to scoff at. There’s been more than one time when I simply didn’t have the money to purchase groceries. That would have been fine had then been the only issue, however, it often seemed to coincide with other expenses such as doctor visit copays or prescription costs. While obviously all of these are necessities that would ordinarily have had me reaching in my wallet for a credit card, I was fortunate in the fact that I didn’t have to. Inside one of our closets way in the back is a small basket. The contents of this little basket is a safety net in and of its own. Think of it as a forced savings of sorts because that’s exactly how we look at it. From pennies to nickels to quarters to dimes, an ever-growing collection of rolled coins can be dipped into when needed, however, because it does take a bit of effort to go and cash them in for bills, we’re less likely to access and use them unless we really need to.
Know the value of what you have. Your financial resources needn’t be limited to just cash. If you have extra skills such as sewing or crafting or computer troubleshooting, honor those skills as the financial asset they are and put them to work for you. Feeling a little cramped for space around the house and cramped in the checkbook for some cash? Consider selling some of the superfluous “stuff” for the cash you need on Craig’s List or Ebay. You’ll declutter, gain space and earn cash. Win-win-win!
Photo credit: Jeroen Latour
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