Hi Sexy —
The first week of January is generally pretty sleepy after the craze of the holidays. This makes it the perfect time to knock a few annual adulting items off the to-do list, including reducing expenses and making an emergency plan. This month I’m offering some simple steps to prepare for a terrific 2019!
Monthly Expenses Audit
It’s a good idea once a year to take a careful, systematic look at where your money goes every month. Identify on your credit card statement all your recurring expenses. Could you be spending less on your phone? Are you getting full use of your cable plan? Could you save by bundling with an Internet package? This is a time of year when many carriers offer excellent incentives to switch. Additionally, you might try taking a break from premium channels. If you realize three months later you don’t miss Netflix or HBO at all, that could be hundreds of dollars saved.
Does your bank charge you for the privilege of holding onto your money? Maybe it’s time to explore a credit union instead. Credit unions aren’t as flashy as for-profit banks, but because they’re not-for-profits, they offer lower fees and better interest rates. They tend to be local, with better customer service. Some credit unions are available only to certain members, but plenty are open to the public. And while credit unions used have a bad reputation as inconvenient, now most are connected to linked to shared ATM networks, available all over the world.
How about the gym—do you work out often enough to warrant a monthly membership? A lot of us sign up with the best intentions to exercise regularly, but then just don’t get around to it. Consider switching to a per-use plan instead. It will help you determine just how often you really do work out.
Estimated time: 30-60 minutes. Potential value: Money saved every month.
Credit Card Audit
Another excellent New Year’s resolution is to pay less this year in credit card interest and fees by rolling over your existing debt onto lower rate cards. However, be sure to pay careful attention to all the terms. Credit cards make the bulk of their profits from sneaky fees and penalties, finding ways to charge you when you’re not looking.
NerdWallet has an excellent credit card comparison page that helps you find cards offering rollover balances, zero interest or annual fees, among other advantages. NerdWallet also explains the fine print in clear, easy-to-understand English.
Estimated time: 10-30 minutes. Potential value: Money saved every month.
Now is an excellent time to assess your transportation needs. Maybe you absolutely have to have your own set of wheels, but, if you live someplace with reliable public transportation, ask yourself: Do I really need a car?
Take 20 minutes to review your past year’s transportation expenses including car payments, maintenance and repairs, gas, insurance, tolls, parking, and parking tickets. Tally up them up and divide by twelve to get your monthly average of car-related expenses. Weigh those costs against a bus pass and a monthly car share service allowance.
Some other factors you might consider: more walking and bike riding means additional exercise for you, and is easier on the environment. If your home or apartment comes with a parking space you could rent out, that’s additional money coming in.
Estimated time: 10-30 minutes. Potential value: Money saved/earned every month.
In Case of Emergency…
Hopefully you’ll never need any of this, but better safe than sorry. January 1stis the perfect time to replace the batteries in your fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and emergency flashlights. Make sure you have three days’ supply of emergency food and water in the house, including enough for your pets. Check the expiration dates—replace any food that’s set to expire in 2019.
Write down your emergency plan in case of fire, flood, power outage, or other natural disaster, then review it with every member of your household and emergency contacts. Where’s your off-site meeting place for your family or housemates? Who is the first person to call? Make sure everyone knows that number by heart.(Nothing feels worse than needing to call someone in an emergency, but you don’t have your cell phone, and you don’t remember their number.)
Make a list of all the priceless, irreplaceable items to grab if you have only five minutes to evacuate your home. Place that list in an emergency bag along with a change of clothes, a few days’ worth of medications and toiletries, and some bottled water and power bars stored by your front door.
Estimated time: 10-60 minutes. Potential value: Priceless.
Saving money, spending it only on what you really need, and having an emergency plan—it takes just a little bit of time and effort to get 2019 started off right!
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, a self-help book for sex workers available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and wherever else ebooks are sold. Get the audiobook version here. Contact Davina at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter at @Lola_Davina, as well as on Facebook.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.