Yes, you can survive after filing bankruptcy. Hold your head up high and move on with life. People will be judgmental, but that is their problem, not yours. You suffered already as you contemplated the filing and considered alternatives. You know that your decision was the best one for you and your family. Don’t look back; it will serve no purpose. Keep positive. You’re beginning a new life. In taking that step forward, consider the following.
Prepare a Budget. Chances are you already did this during the period of time you waited for the bankruptcy to be completed. Review, adjust and tweak it. Be realistic concerning what you can afford. Bankruptcy is definitely not an experience that you wish to repeat. Include everything in your budget from the monthly bills, groceries, gasoline and transportation costs, clothing, literature and gift-giving. Vow that if it is not in your budget, you won’t spend money on it.
Supplemental Income. Perhaps you’ve decided that a second job is necessary in order to have even the basics without going into debt again. Can a part-time job of three or four hours a couple times a week meet your income needs? Certainly you won’t want to work too many hours, since it could lead to feeling punished when you don’t have enough time to spend with family and friends.
Financial Planning. Besides a budget, a financial planner can point you in the direction which will make your income and savings work best for you. There may be unfamiliar opportunities for which you can take advantage to stretch your money. Even though a financial planner may charge a fee (let’s say, $100) but in the long run, the fee will be worth the return (when you are, for example, $400 ahead at the end of the year.)
Teach Your Children. What better time is there than now to introduce the subject of finances to your children? Guide their preparation of a budget for their expenses. If they want something for which they don’t have money in their piggy bank or bank account, help them determine how they can raise or earn the money. Savings and church donation should be part of every bit of money they receive so it becomes an automatic habit with them. If they mow lawns and have $25, $5 should go directly into savings, $5 would go to church, if you belong to a religious denomination and the rest is theirs for needs and expenses.
Food Stretching. Most children today refuse to eat leftovers. It’s, therefore, up to you to be creative. We all know how expensive food is today. When a family member goes to throw out perfectly good food, picture in your mind money. That person is throwing away your hard earned money. Stop them. Just as you are doing guiding your child’s handling of money, now you’ll do the same with food. Let’s say you have a rump roast for dinner. The leftovers of beef and perhaps some carrots, potatoes and other veggies could be made into a stew to be served for dinner two days later. Make a gravy, cut-up meat, potatoes and veggies into small pieces and even add something new like mushrooms or peas, so it appears to be a new meal. Dumplings or biscuits would add flavor and interest.
Shop Thriftily. Use coupons by checking the local newspaper, magazines and online sites that offer them. Even go to the site of specific stores to see if they offer online coupons. Perhaps you like a brand of milk but another brand has a sale for which you can get the identical product for half the price. Give up the habit of brand shopping. Even go for no-name products , provided that the nutritional value is not compromised. When the sale is almost unbelievable on something that you eat or use regularly, purchase the limited amount allowed. (Toilet tissue normally costs $12.95 for 24 rolls but 24 rolls is on sale for $4.95. It’s a product you definitely will use, so purchase at least 3 packages of 24 rolls. If you’re limited to only one 24-roll package, return the next day to make a new purchase. In the end you’ll save. $8 savings times 3 packages for a total savings of $24. That savings could buy gasoline or go toward the increased cost of heating fuel during an extra cold winter.
By now, you’ve got the idea that your way of thinking and handling money makes a huge difference in how comfortably you live and eat. Again, keep positive. Instead of feeling deprived, tell yourself you are blessed with opportunities to be more economically solvent. Congratulate yourself for having survived bankruptcy filing.