Readers share how they are addressing money issues.
Keeping Priorities in Check
It's a challenge to save money when there are so many things I need and want. To keep perspective, I tape onto envelopes photographs of loved ones I want to buy gifts for or objects I want to purchase. Whenever I have extra cash, I drop it into an envelope. The photos remind me to focus my spending.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Being More Money-Conscious
I love to bargain-shop, but I cut up my credit cards because I was dangerously close to exceeding my limit. Whenever I feel a pang of regret, I think of the money I'm saving and remember that I did this for a reason.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
My husband and I opted against outside child care, so we both work part-time now and have cut expenses to make up for the loss of two full-time salaries. We sold the gas-guzzler, refinanced our mortgage, and started borrowing books and movies from the library and eating out only once a month. When my husband comes home from work, I head to my job. This allows us to have equal time with our son.
Paying Off Bills To help pay our school loans and car payments, my husband and I each run businesses on the side that allow us to explore our interests―photography, painting, baking, and writing. Income from these pursuits goes directly toward bills. This way we are getting paid to do what we love and we have extra money on hand to indulge in other ways.
Little Rock, Arkansas
I have a large amount of debt, so I sold stock to pay off some credit cards. I also have found that Bankrate.com is a great source for finding the best interest rates.
Madonna S. Brown
New York, New York
I have a substantial student loan that nearly equals my annual salary. To pay it off, I am staying with my parents for a few years before I start living on my own. I don't have to pay rent, so I can put the extra money toward the loan.
Greensboro, North Carolina
My husband and I are afraid that, in the face of the struggling economy, we may lose our jobs, so we developed a strategy to save for unemployment. We arranged for our bank to deposit a percentage of our paychecks automatically into a savings account. Because we never see that money, we don't spend it. And if we are fortunate enough to continue working, we'll have a great nest egg to use as a down payment on our first house.
Lynore M. Abbott
New York, New York
Planning for the Future
I'm always concerned about not having enough money to retire. I redistributed my pretax 401(k) dollars and IRA accounts to more conservative investment plans, and I refinanced my mortgage at a lower rate. I am learning to budget, and I feel more comfortable about my future.
Diane E. Russo
I'm a single thirtysomething, and I desperately needed to overhaul the way I managed my finances and set up retirement funds. I read Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, by Beth Kobliner [$15, amazon.com]. It's easy to read and follow, and it offers great advice.
With tuition costs rising every year, I'm concerned about how to pay for my daughter's college education. My state offers a Tuition Account Program through which I can buy college credits right now at today's prices. When she is ready for college in six years, we can utilize those credits.
Enduring the Economy
I'm concerned about job security, so I set up my monthly budget as if I were earning half my current salary. I save half my income and have learned to live with less.
Jamesville, New York
I work on a freelance basis, but because of the economy, jobs have been canceled and my hours have been cut. I now network with every friend, acquaintance, and relative I have to pick up as much work as possible. Thanks to their help, I've managed to stay busy.