A Geek in Crisis: Surviving the Economic Slump

I never thought I'd post something about money in this blog. But with the recession going on, it's a hard time for geeks like me who have many hobbies but only earns a paltry sum of cash each month. So while I was doing my budget plan for the month of October, I thought I'd share the things I do in order to survive and enjoy my meager monthly salary.

But a little caveat before I start. Like I said, I'm just a guy who have tons of hobbies but has a very shallow pocket. So I'm not a financial expert, and this is not a post -like most blogs- of how to earn a quick buck. I'm only a frugal person who knows how to spend his money wisely on the things he needs and the things he really wants.

So without further delay, here are my advice for surviving the economic slump.

  • Budgeting and Limiting
Budgeting is the most simplest and easiest way to save money. But I'm surprised a lot of people don't do it. I often hear them say "I'm short -X amount of money- this month". That's because they don't plan and limit themselves on what they spend, or they just don't keep track of their money.

What I usually do, to control and limit myself from buying useless things, is make a budget plan every month. Every first week of the month, I try to list down all the commodities that I need, such as gas and groceries, and all the bills that I need to pay. Then I'd calculate, overestimate and set aside some money for those things. 50% of what's left of my salary will then go to my savings, and the other 50% will be my spending budget for things like comics, books and games.
  • Planning and Listing
Plan ahead and list the things you need before you head out. Try going to a grocery store without a list and I'm certain you'd end up buying things that you don't need. Try going out to a store to buy a gadget you don't know much about and you'd end up buying useless accessories because the sales rep told you so. So make a list of the things you want or research a product before you purchase. Not only it'll help you save money but it'll also save you time.

As an impulsive buyer, it's always easy for me to go over my budget limit when it comes to comics, music and games. So, in order to prevent that, I always look for a list of release dates so I can check out previews and make a list of the things that are worth getting. If I'm not too sure about something, I'd check out the reviews first before buying.
  • Used and Sale
I know a lot of people like their things new. But there are some stuff that you can just buy as used. My CDs, which I painstakingly got all back when I left my old ones during migration, are mostly used. Some of my books, which I got from Amazon and other websites, are used as well.

If you won't buy it used, then at least buy it on sale. As for me, I don't like buying used PC games or softwares. But Best Buy always offers a price off on most of their CDs and games on the week of release. The same goes with other electronic stores. That's why it's wise to check out weekly ads online and on free newspapers. If they don't go on sale, then I usually wait for the price to drop.
  • Learn and Live
We're living in the information age and there's a lot of DIY guides floating around the net. So instead of hiring an expensive professional service man to fix a minor clog problem in your sink or to plant a tree in your garden, why don't you utilize some of the guides on the net and do it yourself. If you're not comfortable of doing it yourself, at least try and learn these things so you won't get ripped off.

As for me, I tried to learn how to cook. My cooking might not be the best, but at least I have something edible to bring to work. Not only this has save me money from buying out in our hospital cafeteria, whose food is as equally as bad as mine, I also started eating healthy.
  • Cutting and Trimming
Lose what you don't need such as home phone and gym memberships. Home phone seems unpractical now, especially since you can get cheap cellphones with cheap pre-paid plans. Besides, cellphones, unlike home phones, are also much cooler since you can almost go everywhere with them. Gym memberships? Ever heard of push-ups or running in that beautiful park?

As for me, I also cancelled my cable TV. I don't watch it that much. I'm not into sports and I'm not into soap operas. Instead, I just rent out movies or TV series and watch it on my dvd player (which died a couple months ago). Internet, since I don't download big files or play online games, I just got the cheapest DSL plan from AT&T. Also, from time to time, I trim out my comics pull list and adjust it to my budget plans.

So these are the things I do in order to survive everyday life -with my almost decent salary- but still enjoy the fruits of my hardwork. Hopefully, It'll help you out.

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