Financial Strategies for Coping with Tough Times — Part 2

As mentioned in the previous article, blended families, along with all families, will eventually feel the negative impact of the Wall Street meltdown. Many blended families are experiencing the personal pain of financial strain, powerlessness and generalized stress as the repercussions ramifications ripple through our economy.

Again, were not in a position to offer a bailout plan for our blended families, but here we offer some additional strategies to help you take action and feel more in control of your destiny as this economic crisis plays itself out.

3. Enlist your children in saving family funds. As the greening of the environment came alive with the participation of children, so can children be actively involved in trimming the family budget to help you feel more in control during this economic crisis. Explain what is happening without unduly scaring them and create strategies to make your family financially proactive.

* Encourage children to find alternatives to using the family car, such as walk to a friends house or bike to soccer practice.

* Cook and dine at home more frequently and take lunch to school. Many families on a tight budget say that the most surprising expense was dining out and take-out foods that cost them an extra $500 a month. There are numerous benefits to cooking and dining at home as well as saving precious dollars in todays uncertain economy.

* Encourage children to recycle clothes and buy store brands over the much more costly designer brands.

* Combine errands, car-pooling and trips to conserve gas. Make outings a treat rather than the norm.

* Encourage children to come up with new and unique ways to save money.

4. Be aggressive about eliminating unnecessary spending from your budget. Make it a game to see how much you can save. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* Eliminate the I-phone, look into competitive cell phone plans and make sure you arent wasting money on extra minutes charges or fancy ring tones.

*Take lunch to work.

* Examine the cable TV or satellite TV bill because you may have a plan with a lot of waste. Check out FREE movies from your local library.

* Cancel subscriptions to publications you dont read or things you dont use.

* Buy kids clothing and holiday gifts out of season and on sale.

* Car pool or use public transportation, if available.

* Review homeowners and health insurance plans and make sure youre getting the most economical deal.

* Mow your own lawn and have the children help pick up the leaves. Do your own household repairs and maintenance.

* Check out store brands and shoppers coupons.

* Pay down credit card debt and make it a rule to buy only what you can afford. Wait and save to avoid credit card debt.

* Save to take care of property taxes, holiday gift spending, vacations, and unforeseen expenses.

These are challenging times and the most effective way to feel some sense of control is to take action with your own family. Think outside the box, engage the entire family and be proactive in your own home.