Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Does It Mean to Be Self-Reliant?

This blog focuses most on managing your money wisely, but there is a lot more to being self-reliant than just spending less than you earn.

My friend Molly writes a great summary of self-reliance in the latest post to her blog Naturally Molly.

Read it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grocery Buying Thought # 4: Use the Step-Down Method

In the spirit of being overwhelmed...

Looking back over my posts about grocery buying, I realize some of it sounds a little extreme. Budgeting should not stress you out. If you hate cooking, it probably isn't worth it to make everything from scratch.

So, what can you do?

Use the step-down method! (See my original post about it. I love this.) You don't have to go from buying all the finest groceries to all the cheapest. You just have to take a few steps down, and keep doing it until you are within budget.

What do you really care about?

Prioritize. If you love gourmet butter, buy it. But that might mean you need to buy store-brand on a few other items. Keep the things you really want, and step down on the things that don't make as much difference. You'll hardly notice (but your budget will).

Improve your plan. Have to have deluxe frozen pizza? You could decide to buy only when it's half price. Or you could start buying it half as often. That counts as stepping down too.

See, we really don't have to do everything. Life is good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rebooting the Job Hunt

If you've been looking for a job for more than a month or two, check out this article in the New York Times:

Getting Back in Shape for the Job Chase

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adapting Slowly

One thing that I discovered the last time I was unemployed for a significant time (which was thankfully quite a while ago) was that I spent more money while unemployed then I had before! Looking back on it, it still doesn't make much sense to me.
Here's on article on Yahoo Finance that reminded me of that:

Life on Severance: Comfort, Then Crisis

This article details the experiences of various people who lost very well-paying jobs, but did not immediately adjust their standard of living to compensate. Losing a job should require serious "stepping down" in each area of your expenses.

There were a number of other points I noticed in the article:
  1. One women was sending out ten resumes a day through Monster.com. Another fellow figured he'd sent out 3000 copies total. Though it is a useful website, it's possible to send out a lot of resumes with poor results. Without networking and a good resume, you can easily send out hundreds of ignored resumes.
  2. If you've saved enough before losing a job, it can actually be a great time to work on your education, giving you a chance to get a better job than the one you lost.
  3. Identify and track your expenses, so that you know what to cut to make the biggest difference.
  4. Try not to worry about what neighbors or family will think when you are cutting back. Trying to "keep up with the Joneses" is foolish enough when you actually have a job.