So, Britain is in recession. As people you know start losing their jobs, it's easy to slip into a panic.
This article was first sent to Fools as an email in our 'Afternoon' series.
If you don't have an immaculate credit rating, it can also be that bit harder to knock your finances into shape.
You may not be accepted for a 0% credit card, could find it impossible to get a mortgage, and might be rejected for that loan you need to tide you over.
However - it's not all doom and gloom. There are things we can ALL do to fight the recession - no matter what our financial history looks like.
The important thing is to act now, not wait until things get really bad. And an excellent place to start is your everyday living costs.
1) First of all, make sure you're not paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity. The Fool's gas and electricity comparison centre will help you find out if you could save money by switching suppliers.
What's more, British Gas has just fired the first shot in a possible price war. Choosing the most competitive tariff could save you hundreds of pounds a year.
2) Whichever energy supplier you use, you could slash your bills further by taking some easy energy-saving measures. Whether heating your home, washing your clothes or cooking your dinner - you could save money.
3) Your water bill may also be making a nasty dent in your finances. Getting a water meter installed (free of charge) could cut your costs.
In Eight Ways To Cut Your Water Bill, my Foolish colleague Jane Baker explains how you can go about it.
1) Changing where and how you shop could cut your grocery bill in half. Before your big supermarket trip, it's a really good idea to price check your groceries using a site like MySupermarket.
It'll help you find the cheapest deals on offer, so you can decide which shops you want to visit.
2) Your cooking and food storage habits can also make a big financial difference. Research indicates that Britons chuck out almost seven million tonnes of unwanted food every year, worth a staggering £8 billion.
In this article, I outline the steps you can take to avoid wastage and cook economically.
3) If you're treating yourself to a meal out, make sure you take advantage of a special deal or discount - there are plenty around.
The Toptable website, for example, is well worth a look. It has offers to `eat for half price' and `eat for under £15' - as well as lots of two-for-one deals.
1) If you need a car to get about, make sure you've cut your driving costs wherever possible. Use Petrolprices.com to find the cheapest fuel in your area, and read Ten Ways To Cut Your Motoring Costs.
2) If you commute using public transport, read my article on How To Get Cheaper Train Travel. How and when you book can have a huge effect on the price of your ticket.
3) Finally, consider switching your car for a bicycle. It's not practical for everyone - but if it works for you, you could save hundreds of pounds a year and get fit for free. This article outlines the benefits of the government's Cycle To Work initiative.
1) If your phone contract is costing you a fortune, think about ditching your mobile completely, or switching to pay-as-you-go usage. My Foolish colleague Szu Ping Chan
shows you how you can make the most of PAYG here.
2) If you can't get out of a lengthy mobile contract, there are still things you can do. In this article, Szu shows you how you could downgrade your plan, or take advantage of the perks that are on offer.
3) If broadband is a genuine necessity in your household, make sure you have the deal that meets your needs at the cheapest possible price. Find out more in Six Steps To Cheaper Broadband.
Once you've tackled these living expenses, use this useful Statement Of Affairs (SOA) calculator to see where you stand.
If you're still in a financial pickle, visit The Fool's Dealing with Debt discussion board. Here, you'll get non-judgmental help and advice from your fellow Fools, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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