These are some approaches for managing our money during these difficult times. Ideas from March 1, 2009 issue of BottomLinePersonal with my two cents thrown in for good measure :o)
$4-a-Gallon Savings Club:Every time you fill up, calculate the difference between what you pay at the pump and what it would have cost you at $4 per gallon. Put the money away for the time when the prices inevitably go back up.
Financial Fire Drill: Evaluate the risk of job loss, loss or reduction in pay and/or benefits, and start your research now. Do on-line research into health care costs or insurance programs, while you are not in a crisis mode. We tend to make better decisions when our backs are not against the wall.
Barter: Check out Craigslist.org or BarterBart.com or uSwapit.com for ideas on swapping goods and services rather than paying for them.
Delay Purchases: Do not make spur of the moment purchases. Most of us eventually regret more than half of the discretionary purchases we make. Wait at least a week, and the odds are that you will not go back and make the purchase. Keep track of your discretionary purchases and review it before you go on a shopping trip, you may find that you reduce impulse and discretionary buying.
Grow Your Own: I am to young to remember victory gardens, but it is time to bring these small gardens back into vogue. Even a 4 ft by 4 ft garden can provide a lot of fresh produce in a growing season. If you do not have that space, consider herbs indoors and container tomatoes and cucumbers on the deck. Alternatives are to find a community garden to participate in http://www.communitygarden.org/. Another alternative is to by the share of a harvest for your own use, http://www.localharvest.org/.
Ask and You May Receive: With how difficult times are, customers have gained bargaining power and might be able to negotiate better prices. You never know unless you ask. Purchases that are likely to be negotiable are electronics, appliances, furniture, and medical expenses. The key is to be friendly and polite. Do not be afraid to say no thanks and look elsewhere.