Do you worry about money? How often? Monthly? Every payday? Every day? If you worry about money, you’re not alone. According to a survey by GoBankingRates.com, 1 in 3 people worry about money all the time and 2 out of 3 Americans indicate finances are among their greatest fears. People say ‘more money, more problems’, but for those without money that phrase seems ridiculous. NOT having money and being able to keep up with your bills is what is stressful. When you’re stressed out, it affects many aspects of life. Stress causes problems in relationships, mental health, and physical health that all can lead to missing work and with health problems comes medical bills…and then more financial stress. It can be a vicious cycle, but you CAN break it.
Here are steps to take to stabilize your financial situation:
- Create a budget. Compare all of your expenses to your income. If you don’t know what you need to earn or cut back on, then your situation is just going to get worse and make it harder to get back on track.
- Prioritize and make cuts where possible. It’s your choice where you spend your money, but make sure you focus on necessities first. Mortgage/rent, utilities, food, transportation to get to/from work, car and student loans, etc. If you’re behind on a student loan payment, be sure to call LSS for a free repayment counseling session (888.577.2227).
- Stop charging. The more you charge will make your situation more difficult to improve.
- Open ALL of your bills. You may want to bury your head in the sand, but not knowing is causing stress, too. Open them up and make sure you’re aware of the status of all of your bills/accounts.
- Contact the necessary creditors/billers. If you’re behind on anything, this is key. BUT…don’t ever agree to anything you can’t afford. See if you can set up an affordable repayment plan or get a temporary forbearance or deferment (where you temporarily can stop making payments). Just make sure you call and let creditors/companies know what’s going on.
- Increase income (if possible). Are you able to make any extra cash with odd jobs shoveling or babysitting? Can you pick up any extra shifts at work or get overtime? Are you able to get a part-time job? Be creative…think about realistic ways that you can earn more money to help your bottom line.
Not behind on anything, but living paycheck to paycheck? If something comes up like a major car or home repair would you be able to pay for it without accruing debt? If not, don’t wait for something to happen. Take action NOW.
- Identify a safety net. Could you sell something to pay for a vet bill? Or do you have savings in place? If so, keep contributing as much as you can afford from each paycheck. If you haven’t started yet, every little bit helps. And make it automatic if you can. Try to set up an automatic deposit into savings each pay period.
- Take control of credit card debt. If you already have credit card debt, check out your repayment options by meeting with one of our LSS Financial Counselors. A Debt Management Plan is a great way to reduce interest rates, sometimes payments, but especially to save a lot of money in the long run. With on-time payments, your debt would be paid in full in 5 years or less. People on a DMP typically save THOUSANDS of dollars in interest.
- Plan for periodic expenses. For example, if your vehicle tabs are due in August and they’re $200, start setting aside $17 per month so that when August comes around, you have the full $200. Think about other larger expenses that are annual or semi-annual and do the same thing.
- Use cash windfalls wisely. If you get a decent-sized tax return, a bonus, or other cash windfalls use them to set yourself up for success. Pay yourself first, meaning put 1/3-2/3 of it into emergency savings (& periodic savings if needed) and use the rest to pay down debt and then spend a little on something fun for yourself.
Everyone’s situation is different and this list doesn’t include every possible idea or solution, but it’s a good start. Sit down with your family to see what you can do together as well; you might come up with even better ideas.
Keep in mind that stabilizing your situation or building up savings may take time and it might not be easy, but the sooner you start, you’ll find yourself worrying less and enjoying life more.
If you want to find the best debt repayment option for you, click below to start your online financial counseling session. It’s free and confidential so what have you got to lose – besides debt and stress? If you’d rather schedule a phone or face to face appointment, call us today at 888.577.2227. We can help you conquer your debt for good so you can take back your life again.