10 Things to Cut Back on During These Hard Economic Times

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Credit card use dropped by 50 percent in 2010.
Credit card use dropped by 50 percent in 2010. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Cutting back during these hard economic times is difficult. The early 2000s were a time of plenty. Coming out of the Bush era, economic recovery has been slow. More than 10 million Americans were recently unemployed. Some states have 14 percent unemployment or higher during these tough times. With incomes stagnant or even going down in the U.S., it makes sense to reduce personal spending. Several lessons from the Great Depression era apply during the current Great Recession.

Electronic Toys (Phones, Tablets and Laptops)

Personal electronics are definitely a waste of money. The newest, shiniest thing isn't always what we need. New cellular phones, tablet PCs and laptops aren't things most of us need to buy in 2011. The average home already has 2.4 personal computers. How many computers does one person really need?

Eating Out

The average American eats out two to three times a week. This can mean a very large bill for something that most of us already have in the refrigerator. Expenses for eating out are higher than they should be for most homes in the United States. Doing more with what you have is one of the primary lessons people learned from the Great Depression. Eating out when a refrigerator full of food is at home is irresponsible.

Banking Fees (Credit card fees, debit card fees and teller fees)

Credit card fees, debit card fees and automated teller fees are little more than three forms of wasted money. Banking fees in these forms provide no return of value to the customer. Banks tout these fees as convenience fees, but they are little more than giving money away. Saving what you have is a touchstone during hard economic times. These fees represent spending with nothing tangible in return.

Late Fees

Late fees on our bills provide us with no return on value. We pay these fees for the comfort of paying bills late. They have no redeeming value and can ultimately damage our credit. We should all do our best to pay on time and avoid valueless late fees.

Luxury Jewelry

High-end rings and necklaces are a poor store of value and provide no economic recovery during hard economic times. Purchasing jewelry is rarely a good investment and with cash a rare commodity, now is not the time to waste money on jewelry.

Gasoline

Gasoline is starting to skyrocket again. As of April 6th, 2011 the American Petroleum institute says that the price of gas has increased 2 dollars and eleven cents since this same time in 2008. That is more than 120 percent in 3 years. Driving to work and home is expensive enough without the cost of side trips to the store or parks. Non-essential consumption of gasoline is a serious issue, and should be curtailed.

Electricity

The price of electricity has never been cheap but plentiful coal in the Earth's crust makes us feel like it is. The green movement has been speaking to us for years about our abuse of fossil fuels, and we can never forget that 45 percent of electricity is generated by coal technologies. The Department of Energy has asked us to cut back by asking for tax incentives and energy ratings for appliances. The use of electrical power is very much a personal matter of dilligence and we must all be sure to turn out the lights when not in use. Simple and repetitive actions can reduce your utility bill.

Water

Water bills vary widely between communities, but it is never free. As global resources for water become more strained some communities have made elective use of water illegal. Other communities have made water more expensive. Water bills are going to increase as our climate becomes drier leading to larger expenses for homeowners. Preparing and cutting water expenses now only creates more savings opportunities in the future.

Vacations

Do you really need that vacation in 2011? According to Pewresearch.org, some 57 percent of Americans decided to postpone vacations in 2010. This high yet critical number is indicative of the fact that many people don't feel comfortable spending large amounts of money in this economy. Going on a simple and almost free vacation conserves your financial resources and puts aside cash in case of an emergency.

Clothing

Do you really need a new outfit for that special event? More people today are reaching into the closet for an older outfit instead of buying a new one. Seventy-one percent of people polled said they were buying less expensive brands of most products, and cutting out designer brands. There is a cost savings in each of these ideas, but the largest benefit is in not purchasing at all. The buyer must differentiate clothing purchases for fashion and clothing purchases of necessity.

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