The recession may be officially over, but that doesn’t mean everyone has seen a personal financial recovery. The rate of unemployment, always the last piece of the economy to improve after a recession, is still high. A friend of mine who was laid off during the financial upheaval finally reached his 99th week of unemployment and no longer receives benefits. He has a job lined up, one that requires training ahead of time. He’ll be officially employed in January. For the last couple of years, he has had to find income here and there and stretch his dollars while going on as many job interviews as possible.
So for those who are looking to make the most of their cash in a tight economy — and even those with jobs could be feeling the pinch — here is a sampling of suggestions from the blog 31 and Holding:
Before the price of your health care insurance goes up or if you’ve met your deductible, renew any medications that have either a high co-pay or you use in frequently but keep on hand. For example, I have a non-narcotic pain patch that I use about 20 a month of on my back. My former insurance had a maximum out of pocket that included prescriptions. My new insurance does not: I renewed the prescription twice as I had met the maximum out of pocket (thanks ankle surgery!) saving $50 a renewal on the new prescription.
It’s been said a ton: ask if there is a generic option for prescriptions. Check into local pharmacies to see if they have options: many offer free antibiotics on some types of antibiotic prescriptions.
Eat ethnic. Seriously. Many, if not most, cuisines from developing nations can be both nutritious, better for you and cheaper. I purchase many groceries from local “ethnic” grocery stores. I’ve picked up a few words of Portuguese thanks to the Brazilian grocery, a bit of Hmong thanks to the Cambodian market saved money as well as put money back into locally owned businesses in my community. Black beans, brown rice and a myriad of interesting foods wait: with recipes abounding all over the internet!
Recycle! Bringing your own bags to many retailers earns $0.10 to $0.25 off per bag. In states where you pay a bottle deposit, return them. I’m stunned at the number of people who toss the bottles they paid a deposit on in Massachusetts.
Create a budget. You don’t need fancy budgeting software: Excel works just as well (although MS Money is also good and comes preinstalled on most windows based systems). Write down everything you spend money on: it’s an eye opening experience.
Know what is tax-deductible if you itemize. Keep track of expenditures for medical bills including mileage and parking! If you met the deductible for medical expenses, this is additional expenditure you can write off.
Updated September 12, 2011 and originally published September 29, 2010.