Chances are you either know someone that has been severely affected by our current economic avalanche or you yourself have had to, at a minimum, scale back your spending.
I've made adjustments to the way I live to help reduce the amount of money pouring out of my pockets:
I'm More Discriminating
When cash floweth freely, many of us tend to buy without consequence. I've been severely guilty of that in the past. Slow money times remind us that every dollar counts. This is the perfect time to gain financial discipline, so I'm more discriminating about what types of activities I choose. A friend and I recently saw a much anticipated, yet highly disappointing movie on IMAX. A half dollar over 15 is what the tickets cost. That's a lot of money for a movie, especially one that disappoints. Afterward we talked of how we could have experienced a nice meal or a number of other things for the collective money we spent that night, tickets and beyond. I'm not suggesting you ditch the big screen for a small plate. I do recommend, however, that you choose your activities based on the value of the experience and how much you can afford to spend.
I Give Where It Counts
It's not unlikely for non-profit LGBT-focused organizations to feel the affects of an economic crunch. Many of their programs, whether that be youth homeless services, career empowerment, economic empowerment, health and HIV prevention and resources or the like, are supported by both public and private contributions. Without this much needed funding, programs that directly service LGBT people run the risk of being scaled back.
I Hit The Sales
It's just not good enough to pay full price anymore. Many businesses (or at least the savvy ones) are trying to move merchandise. Take advantage of the sales, shop around and get the deal. Check online first, then visit the store. Some merchants have different pricing points online than they do in the store. If there isn't a red slash through the original price, I don't buy it.
I Go Early
Free days at the museum, matinees, happy hour anyone? Who says the early gay doesn't get the worm. Take advantage of free days at your local museum. They are often on days early in the month or at early times in the day. Many restaurants and lounges have extended their happy hours or are carrying more specials. Notice how your local restaurants are advertising more special prix fixe meals for early diners. Vacation packages are cheaper when you book well in advance. Booksellers offer discounts for pre-orders. The list goes on. If you seek, you can find a deal on just about anything.
I Call My Lenders
Just because you call your lender and ask that your interest rates be reduced or that your rent is lowered or your mortgage refinanced doesn't mean they'll agree, but it's worth a try–especially if you didn't get that 3% you were anticipating from work. Give them a call. You run the risk of being the punch line of their daily office joke, but you also may hit big and score a lower bill. Your lenders, although callous on most occasions, aren't headless. They know that more individuals are spending less money, whether they take advantage of that is up to them. Do your part and save yourself. Talk to them and see what they are willing to do to keep you as a customer. Research your options.
I Call My Friends
An old bathroom proverb I saw around town once said, "If you lend a friend $20 and you never hear from them again. Good." Wise words, but you know which people in your life you should be dodging and which ones might need an appreciated hand. Check in with your besties and see how they are fairing. You may not be able to help them out financially, nor may they want or need assistance, but checking in with a listening ear can fill your friendship account far larger than you anticipated. Ultimately in the end, the most important things are the relationships in our lives. Foster them. Sometimes the best way to do that is to check in and listen.
I Go Dutch
Manage your entertainment funds by controlling your own consumption. I still believe in a little chivalry, so if you're going to take someone out, then take them. Just keep it managed. If you pick up dinner. Let him pay for the Red Mango or the after dinner drinks. Going out with friends? Keep the group quantity low and decide beforehand how much you are willing to spend for the night.