Monday, March 23, 2009

Can We Be Sympathetic As We Cut Spending In Our Budgets?

I was at a networking event last week and I met a man who is a small business owner.  He owns a nail salon.  We were talking about how business was and he was sharing how hard it was to run a small business particular like his in this economy.  Not only in Michigan but in general.   People are cutting back and are becoming a little more frugal and getting your nails done at the salon is one of those things that is the first to go.  It is considered a luxury item that some can live without.  

This got me thinking though.  As I have been networking over the past few months to find a job I have seen how so many people have pulled together to help each other out in their job search through referrals, information sharing regarding companies that are hiring, etc. Yes, this is part of networking in general and has always been this way. But, its different now. Some people that weren't willing to take an extra step before to help are more willing now due to our current economic situation.  Or at least that has been my experience.  People are compassionate toward one another to find a new job and to try to get people back to work.  Maybe we can also be compassionate toward the small business owners when we are cutting back our spending.  Maybe even prevent more jobs getting lost in the process.

As we tighten up on spending and before we cut the small things out lets stop and think about those businesses.  How can we still support them if we can't even support ourselves?  Well, maybe instead of cutting things out of the budget entirely we can just cut back so that the small businesses are taking as big of a hit.  Here are some ideas.  

1.  Nail Salon.  If you get tips and visit the salon bi-weekly to get fills the cost can add up in the long run.  Instead of deciding not to get your nails done at all, consider spreading out your visits to the salon to lessen the cost.  Or if you can't afford tips maybe you can get manicure's.  They are less expensive and the salon still retains your business.

2.  Hair Salon. The same can apply here.  How often do you get your hair cut?  Maybe spread out the visits here as well.  Or if you get your hair colored and have to go once per month for touch ups consider spreading them out a bit.  Hair color can get pricey.  An alternative is to switch to non permanent colors.  Non permanent colors fade but you won't have roots that need to be recolored so often thus you can go longer periods of time before having to get it colored again.  Consider this before you stop going all together and buy the over the counter at home coloring kits. 

3.  Lawn Service. Summer is coming.  Do you normally hire a lawn service to cut your lawn? Thinking of stopping the service this year?  Before you do and take away business the lawn service is relying on to survive consider working with them to cut back on your service schedule.  Maybe have them come every other week to where you then could cut your own lawn when they are not scheduled to come.  It is cutting back on your lawn care expense but is also still the lawn service to retain business.

4.  Dinner Out.  Do you eat out often and enjoy it and can no longer afford to?  Let's say there are just two of you.  While this may seem like a stretch its really not for some where times are tough financially.  Still go out and enjoy dinner but change the routine. Maybe sit in the bar area and order one meal to share.  We know some places give you enough food for two people anyhow.  This way you can still enjoy a night out and the restaurant is still receiving some of your business.

I think you get the idea.  Think a little before you rush to eliminate an item or activity out of the budget.  Get creative.  They may be a work around.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do You Even Need To Buy Cleaner?

Do you even need to buy cleaner?  Well, no not really.  It these tough economic times if you are in a pinch to find places to save a little money consider making your own cleaner.  Not only does it keep things green but its a great way to save a few bucks you can use elsewhere. 

Consumer Reports shares products that can be used to make cleaners and what those products can be used for.  Some include:  white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda.  These can be combined to make common household cleaning products.

  • Sanitizer:  You can sanitize cutting boards by spraying them with vinegar and then spraying them with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  • Tub and Tile:  You can clean the tub and tiles by mixing 1 2/3 cup baking soda,  1/2 cup liquid soap, and 1/2 cup water.  Right when you are ready add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  The vinegar will create a chemical reaction with the other ingredients so you don't want to add it too soon.
  • Furniture Polish:  To make furniture polish simply mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.  To clean windows simply add 3 tablespoons of vinegar per one quart of water to a spray bottle.
  • Air Freshener:  Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (or lemon juice), and 2 cups of hot water into a spray bottle and spritz your room.
  • Wood Floors:  Add 1 cup of vinegar per pail of hot water.
  • Laundry Detergent Booster:  To reduce the amount of detergent you use try adding baking or washing soda.  These products soften the water and increase the detergent's power.  For liquid detergent, add 1/2 cup of baking soda at the start of the washing cycle.   For powdered detergent, add it during the rinse cycle.
For many more ideas including handling mold, dry cleaning, carpet cleaning, cleaning toilet bowls and drains, check out Consumer Reports Greener Choices by clicking here.
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