Tuesday, January 18, 2011
12 Things to Watch for in 2011 by Gary Foreman
This is a guest blog from Mrs. Roy's friend Gary at The Dollar Stretcher.com. Mrs. Roy thinks Gary is right on and hopes you will consider following his advice.
I enjoy watching the old westerns on TV. One thing I've learned is that is that if you're going to be a gunfighter, you need to always know what's happening around you. Failure to do that could put you in the Boot Hill cemetery.
Right now our economy is a little like the Wild West. Sometimes it seems like there are no rules. Or that whoever has the most guns gets to make his/her own rules. So we might be wise to learn something from that old gunslinger and watch carefully what happens around us. We might keep our finances from an early burial. So here are 12 things to watch out for in 2011.
Watch for old pricing rules to become obsolete. You're going to have to pay attention to prices in the new year. Some prices will be trending up, while others slide down. And, some will change direction during the year. Now, more than ever, it's important to know your prices. Shop around for any major item. Use a grocery pricebook to keep track of food prices.
It's a good time to challenge your assumptions. Just because you always bought a specific brand or store doesn't mean that you should continue. Challenging times cause companies to do things they wouldn't normally do. Some may drop prices significantly. Others could lower quality. Just because you've known a product or company for years doesn't mean that they can't change. In fact, you should expect it to happen.
Watch for ways to save a few dollars. Even if it's only a dollar or two a day. With an increase in uncertainty, it's much more likely that you could need a few extra bucks in a pinch.
Watch out for inflation in 2011. As the government borrows more and more, some prices are bound to rise. It probably won't happen until people are comfortable that they can spend their money again. When they do, we'll all remember why government borrowing is dangerous.
Watch for opportunities to strengthen your position at work. Learn new skills. Be flexible. Do anything you can to make yourself valuable to your employer.
Watch for ways to help your friends and family. Even if you don't have money to spare, you can help. Volunteer to help with a plumbing problem. Or save them the expense of a trip to the store by offering to pick up a few items for them.
Watch out that you don't put your family in jeopardy helping others. It's nice to be generous, but things like co-signing a note could put your finances in a world of hurt.
Watch for opportunities. Even in the most challenging times, there are some opportunities. You'll need to think creatively, and it might take some work. But I bet that there's someone who owns an unoccupied "fixer-upper" home that would be willing to let a family live in it while repairs and upgrades were made in trade for rent.
Watch your stress levels. When finances are tight it's easy to get stressed-out. Letting that stress build up will only make things worse. Don't sacrifice your mental or physical health or marriage to stress. Watch a sunset, listen to music or find some other healthy stress reliever. By the way, shopping is not an acceptable stress reliever.
Watch for unusual bargains. You'll find more "liquidation pricing" on a variety of goods. Auctions will have fewer bidders and thus more bargains.
Watch your step. Now is a time to be careful in making big financial decisions, especially since some of your prior assumptions could be wrong. It's true that many mistakes are made when we're in a hurry. Those mistakes could be very damaging in this economy.
Watch your tongue. Saying too little or too much could be bad for your financial health. There's nothing wrong with letting a few close friends and family know that you're facing some financial challenges. In fact, it's wise to do so. But, you don't want to go to the other extreme where every conversation revolves around your problems. If you go there, you'll notice that people begin to stay away from you.
Watch your back. Is there some problem or debt that's sneaking up on you? Do you have a major appliance (think furnace, A/C unit, refrigerator) or car that's getting old and may need repair or replacement? Or maybe you're close to being unable to make a minimum payment that would trigger a slide in your credit score. Anticipating problems can allow you to fix them before they catch up with you.
Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar Stretcher.com website and enewsletters. Visit the site for more info on how to reduce credit card debt and live frugally.