Planning Ahead

    July 31, 2003

What do you think of that title? Just another article about the impossible task of trying to predict the future. Not this time. This is an article that may give you some ideas on, not how to predict the future, but to be ready when it gets here.

Naturally, I’m talking about your finances. When it comes to your regular bills and expenses many of us have a hard time making plans to pay the bills that we know are coming. What can we do to plan for the unexpected?

All to often when we have an expense that wasn’t neatly placed in our budget we grab the credit cards. Needless to say this is just what the credit card companies are hoping for. If this persists the result is serious financial problems. It all boils down to spending more than you make each month.

To avoid this you need to have money put back to cover your unexpected or unplanned expenses. As always this is easier said than done if you are already struggling. But, like we used to say in the Navy, “The difficult tasks are a piece of cake. It’s the impossible that takes a little longer”.

First, what do you do if you don’t have enough money? You either cut your expenses or you get more money. It’s just that simple. Your best bet is to cut your expense as much as possible and still be able to have enough money for the essentials. Check the web. There are thousands of ideas online to help you save on your expenses. Use search words like “saving money, cutting expenses, etc.”. You can start by visiting the following sites:
Debt Smart
The Stay-At-Home Parents Page
Brighter Futures
Tidbits from the Pantry
Dollar Stretcher

Now lets get into some possible ways to bring in more money. Everybody I know has a talent that has the potential to make extra money. Even things like holding a monthly yard sale can bring in some money. I would suggest that if you need some extra income that you sit down and think about what talents you have. Then try to picture how you could use those talents to earn money.

My daughter, a stay-at-home Mom, wanted to earn some extra money. Just recently she brought some pictures to my house that had a magnetic backing, perfect for displaying those cherished pictures on the refrigerator. After we discussed it we decided to make this service available on the web. The easiest thing to do is to forward pictures as attachments to email so that is the way she going to start. A customer places an order and sends the pictures, she prints them using the software she has on her computer and mails the pictures. Eventually, she will get a scanner and customers will be able to mail her their pictures. Presto, she has a service that almost everyone would like to have.

This is just an example of taking what you have and making something out of it. No, you may not make a lot of money at first but it is money that you didn’t have. Try to find something that doesn’t cost you a lot to get started.

Just one caution. There are almost as many scams on the internet as there are users. A rule of thumb if you are going to try to earn money on the internet: If you have to pay to make money with their offer then it’s usually not a money maker for anyone except them.

Now, back to the topic. There are a lot of us having money problems and not all of these can be solved by cutting expenses or earning a little extra money. What can solve many of the problems is knowing what state your finances are in. Prepare a budget and stick to it. Look at it often especially before you make any major purchases. Know whether or not you can afford what you are buying. Put money aside to cover unexpected expenses. If you don’t have it, find it.

Terry Rigg is the author of Living Within Your Means – The Easy
Way and editor
of The FREE Budget Stretcher Newsletter and Budget Stretcher
web site He has 25 years of
experience counseling individuals and families concerning their
personal finances.