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The Secret to Staying Out of the Red and in the Black

When I am not writing about personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

professional woman sitting at her desk, knitting.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I’m a great knitter but because I can “tink” almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backward is tearing out).

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn’t take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and corrected.

Just two options

Money is a lot like knitting. By some miracle, all knitting consists of just two stitches: knit and purl. Likewise, with money you have two options: spend or save. And who among us can say they have never made a financial error? We all make mistakes but the secret to staying out of the red is correcting the little mistakes before they lead to disastrous results.

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6 Simple Ways to Develop a Saver’s Attitude

Cutting expenses is the way to spend less so you have money to save. But unless you are actually putting that money into a safe place to be held for some future use, you’re not really saving at all. You’re just spending less.

Even if you cannot save a great deal of money right now, that’s okay. It’s not the amount you save that matters as much as the fact that you make saving money a regular habit.

Stacks of $5 bills showing the result of a saver's attitude

Grab all the discounts

Many mortgage lenders and student loan companies offer incentives for their customers who set up automatic payments for their monthly payments. It’s worth knowing you’ll never be late, and if you can get even 1/4-point reduction in the interest rate, over time that will really add up to be something significant. Automobile insurers give discounts to good drivers, non-smokers, good students, cars with particular safety-equipment and any number of other situations. But you have to ask. Make the call. Then save the difference.

Get fanatic about coupons, coupon codes and getting cash back when it’s available. But don’t stop there. Once you have that discount, be disciplined enough to actually save that $.50 or $5.00 or whatever it is. Stash that cash. Rakuten, formerly Ebates, is the best way I know to keep all those small cash-back amounts in a safe place. If you don’t have an account and are not adding even the smallest amounts to it every time you shop, you’re really missing out. Open a Rakuten (Ebates) account here, then remember to use it.

MORE: Ebates—an Awesome Way to Build a Cash Stash

Set dollar limits

Okay, so this sounds curiously like “budgeting.” It is. Deciding ahead of time the amount you are willing to spend for anything is to impose important limitations on yourself. Maybe it’s time to let your inner parent out—that part of you that knows how to demand discipline and good behavior.

MORE: How to Create a Household Budget

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Encouragement is One Thing I Need to Keep Going

Encouragement. For me it is a basic need or perhaps a character flaw, I’m not quite sure. All I know is that I need encouragement, and I need it often.

I have a feeling that you do, too.

 

mountain-climber-helping-companion-reach-the-top

 

This matter of learning how to manage money, living below our means, and getting out of debt can be a discouraging proposition at times.

I want to be one of the encouragers in your life—someone you can count on to cheer you on in the good times and help dust you off so you can get up and back on track during the bad times.

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How to Live Your Life Above Your Circumstances

Her letter was long. Page after page she went on about every aspect of her miserable life.

In between the accounts of her husband’s unemployment and her high blood pressure, this woman managed to weave each and every detail of their broken down cars, leaking roof, busted faucets, ungrateful children, delinquent taxes, nosy neighbors, empty retirement account and unpaid bills.

I’m telling you, by the time I reached the word that for me spelled relief (Sincerely), I was nearly worn out.

Couple-Jumping with Joy above their circumstances

My immediate reaction was a sympathetic, “Oh, you poor thing!” I mean really, the way she carried on I was nearly convinced she was enduring troubles and pressures way beyond the legal limit. Her situation as she described it did appear to be without solution.

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