Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts

Friday, September 3, 2010

Save $500 A Month By Reducing Big Expenses

Two years after the Great Recession, economic recovery is anemic at best. Though the stock market has managed a remarkable recovery, unemployment rate still hovers around 10%, home sales are languishing and consumer sentiment is low.

Let's not forget about basics of saving money which is to reduce our money expenses.
For those who saw a lower or even zero household income, reducing expenses is a necessary skill.

Here are some quick ways to save at least $500 by reducing some big expenses.

1. Reduce APR’s On Our Credit Cards

Call up your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction. If you have good credit with them, they will drop your interest rate by a few percentage points.

Don't feel shy about asking. If you are being charged an exorbitant 30% for an outstanding balance and in danger of default, the credit card company is actually more worried that you stop paying altogether.

Sometimes, they grant a reprieve period of say 6 months with low interest rates, which lowers your minimum monthly payment by as much as 2-3 times. Although it is temporary, you can always go back to negotiate for another rate reduction. That is easily worth $100-$300 of savings for most people.

2. Modification On Home Loans

Not everyone will be qualified for a home modification and the process is time consuming. The approval process may take up to 90 days, but it could be well worth it in the end. If you loan modification is approved, you can save at least $100 per month on your mortgage.

3. Cable, Phone and Internet

When you are jobless, you can do away with lots of entertainment, like cable and internet. Rather than staying home to watch TV or surfing the net, going for interviews will be more practical. And if you use mobile phones most of the time, just do away with the landline too.

Again you can easily save $50-$100 per month.

4. Consolidate Cell Phone Bills

Look around the internet for providers which allow you to consolidate cell phone bills. Of course, you got to sort out every month the bills and usage between your family members but it is easily $50-$100 savings for the household once you do that.

With the expenses reduced, say $500, you can put more food on the table, invest, pay down outstanding loan (especially credit card debts) or simply save the money for a rainy day.

I think every household can find areas of improvement when it comes to finances. You just have to look hard enough at where your money is going. It’s important though that the money you “save” is not used to purchase extravagant items, like flashy gadgets or fashionable accessories.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mind-boggling Personal Bankruptcies In March 2010

The number of personal bankruptcies in March has reached mind-boggling levels. Federal reports indicate 158,000 bankruptcy filings in March. That works out to 6,900 per day and a rise of 35% from February.

The reason for this jump is mainly due to unemployment which rose to nearly 17% for all categories labeled by the U.S. Labor Department.

Katherine M. Porter of the University of Iowa said: "Fewer people are trying to save their homes. ... They realize their payments are not affordable and bankruptcy judges do not have the power to adjust the mortgages to make them more affordable."

The greatest rise in bankruptcy filings are under Chapter 7, which is easier than Chapter 13. With Chapter 13, you need ongoing income and are able to reorganize your debts. Of the 158,141 bankruptcy filings in March, some 75%, or 118,505, were under Chapter 7. Chapter 7 filings have increased about 73% in 2009.

Professor Porter went on to say, "We think that means fewer families think they're really going to save their homes. ... They don't have any equity, so why try to keep up with their home payments? People use their tax refunds to pay their attorney fees."

The personal bankruptcies statistics contrast sharply with the ongoing stock market rally and Wall Street exuberance. This makes me wonder: when will fantasy and reality come together?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Charity In A Recession Is More Meaningful

Is the end of recession here? From the recent slew of "bleak" economic data, I remain pessimistic. In fact, I don't want the recession to end too soon, lest we forget important lessons from the financial crisis and go back to our spending binges.

I believe many Americans are still staying true to their newfound frugality. They are cutting back on expenses and setting aside money to weather turbulence in the coming months.

Charity In A Recession Is More MeaningfulHowever, it is one thing to save money but quite another when our frugal living gives rise rise to an uncaring society where there is little room for charitable giving.

I can understand during a recession, charity work is among the first expense to be sacrificed. That is hardly a tough decision; after all, you have to make ends meet first before helping others.

But charity is even more important during a recession. People who are living at the lowest rungs of poverty are affected more by rising costs or the loss of income. Every dollar counts for them.

Forget about the idea that only the wealthy can afford to be charitable. So long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table and enjoy basic amenities, you are already more fortunate and can make a difference in the life of those struggling with poverty.

At the moment, many charities are struggling to stay afloat. Recession deals a double blow to charities as sharp drops in donations and investment income have been coupled by soaring demand for their services.

Being charitable in a recession means we have to do more with less. It takes creativity but more importantly, the heart to share and give. Here are some tips to get you started on charitable giving:

1. Be A Volunteer
If you can't write a check, then be a volunteer. It also looks good on your resume as job interviewers look favorably on time spent volunteering than watching TV or wallowing in self pity.

2. Put Your Skills To Use
If you have a practical skill or hobby, why not use it to help someone? Charities will always require people to do maintenance, landscaping, property improvement, hair-cutting, administrative work, cooking, etc.

Thus, if you are a handyman, carpenter, landscaper, hair stylist or a cook, then your services will be greatly appreciated. It is also beneficial to you as your skills will not be rusty and you may even acquire new skills which come in handy for a career switch or to impress your current employer.

3. Donate Household Items To Charity
Have a wardrobe full of "new" clothing that no longer fits or isn’t quite
fashionable enough? Those items can be especially helpful to a charity. So do your toys and unopened gifts.

4. Send Extra Food To The Food Bank
If you bought extra food at the grocery store because of special discounts or buying in bulk, you can always send some items to the food bank. It is good to give nutritious items but even biscuits, crackers, canned food are better than nothing.

5. Utilize your network
Don’t be shy. Tell your friends, neighbors and relatives that you are doing charity and ask if they want to help out. You will be surprised by the positive response.

If you still need a final kick to begin your charity work, think about setting a good example for your children. It is a good chance to impart right life values to them.

Rather than engaging in extravagant lifestyles and forever complaining that money is not enough, it is better to let our kids learn to make do with they have and yet, give to the less fortunate at the same time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How To Have A Baby Amid A Recession?

Having a baby can really throw one's finances into disarray. The costs of raising a baby to age 18 is estimated between $125,000-$250,000 and that is assuming your kid sponsor his/her own way to college.

A family can expect to wash out their savings of about $9,000-$11,000 after having a baby in the first year alone (for diapers, formula, baby furniture, clothing, baby gear, etc.)

And not to forget, the delivery itself. A normal vaginal delivery costs between $5,000-$8,000, and for Cesarean delivery, you could be staring at bills of $12,000 to $15,000, depending on complications which develop. Check your insurance to see if they cover these cost.

Having A Baby Amid A Recession?
When you are toting up these mind-boggling costs of having a baby amid a recession and your spouse is laid off, things can get pretty challenging financially. But a recession need not dampen the arrival of your bundle of joy.

I feel that bringing a child into this world is a miraculous event for any couples. Implement these baby budgeting tips, and you can prevent a lot of money squabbles by spending your money wisely instead of surviving on credit cards:

1. Make your own baby food

Occasionally, there are special sales of baby foods in your neighborhood grocery stores. You can take advantage of them but I prefer making our own baby food. It may be time-consuming but you can add whatever your baby likes to it. For homemade baby recipes, click here.

2. Hand-me-downs

If you have more than a baby, a lot of stuff can be reused. In fact, I am a big fan of hand-me-downs as it is wasteful to throw away clothes worn by an older brother or sister which are in good condition. You save hundreds of dollars a year from buying fancy baby clothes at upmarket departmental stores. Even if you are having your first kid, you can always ask a friend or neighbor for hand-me-downs.

3. Make your own baby wipes

Baby wipes are expensive but who says you can't make your own? It's easy and shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes. Be creative and follow instructions for making your own baby wipes here.

4. Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

Although hand-me-downs is a great way to save money, you should also stake out garage sales to purchase baby cloths. Other items like cribs, toys, and other baby products are offered at a bargain price during garage sales too! Also don't forget thrift stores like Good Will where you can buy maternity clothes for only $10-$20.

5. Switch to cloth diapers

Having a baby will turn any parent into an expert diaper changer. After all, you get to perform the laborious task 10-12 times a day.

When you use disposable diapers, that is a lot of money involved every month. Thus, if you don't mind doing laundry, I recommend the use of cloth diapers. You may need more effort in washing and drying the diapers but you cut down on buying diapers and save more money.

gDiapers is environmentally friendly. They're organic and feel like cloth, so your baby will feel cozy and comfortable.

6. Breastfeed

You can expect to spend (until your baby is one-year-old) between $1000-$2300 if you use milk powder or ready-to-pour liquids. That works out to about $40 a week on infant formula. Breastfeeding for a year or more will reduce these cost drastically.

Besides saving money, breastfeeding is also a healthier choice. Remember the melamine tainted milk from China? You also save time time making baby food.

It may be a good idea to borrow a breast pump or even purchase one if you're planning on having more than one baby.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shocking Recession Pics

Shocking Recession Pics
Shocking Recession Pics
Source: Boston - The Big Picture

The "Great Recession" has brought about increasing foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, layoffs, abandoned projects, and the people and industries caught in the middle.

It can be challenging to capture all the misery of recession in pictures but I think Boston has done an excellent job here.

What really caught my eyes are pictures of the unemployed in China... they totally dwarfed the numbers in America. That is not to say Americans are better off in this recession though.

I must say it is an employers' market out there, so we cannot afford to be choosy about jobs or wages any more. This message is especially important for new graduates who are about to enter the job market. Just look at the number of China job applicants who are willing to fill up your position, work longer hours and for lesser pay.

Obama and his administration is planning to spend their way out of the recession. Notwithstanding critics who damned the plan as fiscally irresponsible and just kicking the can down the road, I am pragmatic and see it as the only feasible measure to get the global economy up and running.

Only thing is when can the politicking stop, contracts awarded out and job vacanies start getting filled?