The economy is barely chugging along and we all feel it dragging us behind.  You don’t need to open up Forbes magazine or the Bloomberg reports to figure that one out. Just listen to the people around you and you will realize that you are not alone in this world-wide economic crisis. So what are you going to do in order to secure your financial future?

Certainly, Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous schemes may be tempting fantasies, but they are hardly a viable option for living a financially independent life. Robbing a bank and joining the mafia has been empirically proven to be detrimental to your freedom and health with high morbidity rates to participants. Lying in bed for 90 days for NASA studies could be attractive, but losing precious bone mass and tingling in the toes is hardly worth the $5000 pay. And while raiding your mom’s house might have worked in your 20’s, it just doesn’t work anymore. But do not worry.

bankrobber

Courtesy of Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com

We have 5 easy financial tips for you that will help you maintain your dignity and financial freedom without having to rob a bank.

1. Play the field (with your money): You may be the loyal type, but save your loyalty for your significant other. When it comes to investing, you need to play the field. Spread out your money by investing in different markets and supplement your finances with a steady passive income stream. All assets have an ebb and a flow in their market value. If you diversify your investments, you will handle the drop of an asset easier with the gain in another asset. On the other hand, you can take a major blow if you put all of your faith and money in one stock.

2. Plan a budget with creativity: Grab a box of crayons and tap into your inner Picasso as you draw colorful shapes that define your spending habits and needs. Remembering to make your financial plan fun will ensure the likelihood of your financial success. And don’t forget to budget in the fun. The dirty little culprit who whisks away your savings when you are not watching is usually that tiny little habit that adds up—like a beer after work or a daily latte.

3. Earn what you are worth and spend less that you earn: That sounds pretty obvious right? Many people do not take the time to learn what their position is worth and just settle on the first offer that was given to them. Thus, it is important know what the industry standards are in your field when entering into a new position. $1 an hour is almost $2000 a year (a down-payment on a new car). But just because you start making more does not mean you get to spend more. The point of making more is to add value to your hard work, not to contribute to your debt load.

4. Save for a leaky roof before it starts to rain: The unexpected has a way to catch us by surprise like a leaky roof. Yet, deep down, we usually know about that tiny hole in the roof long before we start hearing the steady drip, drip, drip on our kitchen floor. These little inconveniences outside of our day to day budget concerns are a regular part of life, thus it is important to save for them. Even if your debt seems unmanageable, your savings account should not be ignored. Even 1 percent of your monthly paycheck may come in handy during an emergency.

5. Curb impulse-buys by reducing stress: Stress often triggers impulsive decisions that we later regret. Remember that time that you thought you needed “retail therapy” and shelled out $600 on that what-cha-ma-call-it after a heart-break? But if you had taken a moment to think about it with a clear head, maybe you would not feel the pangs of buyers’ remorse. In the future, I recommend taking moments of contemplation and centering during times of stress and/or sorrow. You don’t need to be a yogi and learn awkward alternate nostril-breathing exercises in order to reduce stress. When you feel tension, simply take a moment to take a few deep breaths in solitude while listening to comforting music and make a mental note of something that brings you joy. Take a moment to think before making a big purchase—especially after a bad day. And don’t buy anything expensive when you are upset.

With these 5 tips, you can begin to take control of your finances.