Friday, October 10, 2008

Economic Crisis Survival Tips

There's a Tagalog phrase that Pinoys like to say whenever a financial problem hits them: Kailangang maghigpit ng sinturon.

In today's nightmarish economy, belt-tightening has become mandatory.

So, starting today, I will regularly post one or two belt-tightening and money-saving tips that would be a good to follow year-round, crisis or no crisis. If you have a tip of your own, please let us know!

1.) Claim those rewards
Most of our credit cards have some sort of rewards program. Even if you keep a zero balance (Good for you! That's the smart way to go.), you get reward points anytime you use your card so the experience of claiming it can be like finding money under your bed. So review your credit card statement today and find out how much points you have, then claim it! It's easy to claim - log on to their website and choose the reward you want. I recently got about $250 doing this, that's grocery money galore - cash that I don't have to eke out from my budget so it was lovely. I opted for the debit card-type of reward which can be used everywhere.

2.) Get a loyalty card
The painful lesson that a lot of us are learning in today's economic downturn is that mortgaging our future by charging everything to credit cards that we can't pay in full monthly is disastrous. But there are cards that allow us to save: grocery loyalty cards. Because I used to live near Filipino stores like Seafood City where food items are usually cheaper, I rarely shopped at mainstream stores like Albertsons and Ralph's. But when I moved a couple of years ago, those two became the ones I bought grocery items from regularly so I got their loyally cards which allowed me to save hundreds of dollars since. (Here's a caveat, though. When you sign up, they will have your name and shopped items on file but I don't think them knowing I buy bokchoy every week is a huge invasion of privacy.)

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