Like many Americans I have financial issues. I know how it is to struggle to make ends meet. Part of my problem is, to coin my own phrase, I “think in a straight line”. That is, if I’m buying used appliances, furniture or the like, I tend to forget that some new items may be priced well and I get warranties with them. When I buy new for a while I forget that there are some worthwhile bargains at yard sales, classifieds, and used item stores. A balanced view of purchases helps.

You’ve also heard all the standard stuff about a budget, writing down all that you purchase and so on. This usually lasts for about a day or two and we don’t follow through. So what can we do. Depending on our family’s size and age of children we could do that balance thing and watch how much we eat out. That’s to say that we will eat out some but it should be balanced with home prepared meals. Another balancing act is cost of food. The more healthy the food the more expensive it usually is. Heavily processed foods are the cheapest and natural or organic foods are usually the most expensive. So a compromise is in order there as well. Try to mix in the healthy things with the less expensive items.

On that budget situation, try to have a good feel for your income and out-go. This may seem simple but in these hectic times that may be all that you can do. Could you do this? How ever often you get paid calculate what must be spent. How much is absolutely needed to get by. If you can, by all means save something. I heard it said that “its not how much you make but how much you save”. If a guy makes $75,000 a year and spends $85,000 he is ultimately worse off than the guy that makes $40,000, lives on $35,000 and saves $5,000 a year. So try to save some amount no matter how small, from each paycheck. I know you’re probably saying “we’re barely getting by as it is ” and you’re talking about saving. Yes, maybe one family sized carry-out meal a month at a cost of $25-$30 could be sacrificed. Twelve months times $30 a month is $360 a year. Save it and do your best to hide your eyes and forget it’s there unless you have an absolute emergency.