When money was created, so too were money problems. Financial difficulty or hardship is nothing new. Yet in modern times of banking crises, perhaps excessive consumer credit availability, greater opportunities than ever before to spend money – not to mention the media hype all of this generates – the problems which can be caused by a shortage of money are more complex and devolved than ever before. Money problems are experienced today by people in all walks of life and although they can often bring embarrassment as well as practical difficulty, it is imperative to recognize them where they occur and tackle them head on at the earliest opportunity.
While it may take an unexpected lottery win to wipe out money problems in one fell swoop, the following ten practical solutions are all geared towards addressing the issue sensibly and logically.
In order to address a problem of any type, it is vital to firstly analyze it and identify its true nature and extent. This means taking the time to sit down and write out income details for the household against regular expenditure, fixed or otherwise. This exercise alone can help identify issues which may obviously need addressed but will at the very least help in the implementation of subsequent suggestions.
Get the least flexible bit out of the way first. A majority of people will not be able to easily influence their income but there are occasions where it will be possible. Is overtime at work an option? Is there perhaps an opportunity for a part time job you know you could take but have preferred to ignore? Is it the case that one member of the household may have to take a part time job as opposed to being a full time homemaker? These are tough decisions but necessary considerations where money problems are a major issue.
It is very often the levels of accumulated debt that suddenly bring about money problems. This may therefore be your biggest task. Look at the obvious in the first instance. Can your mortgage be changed to another lender at a lower rate? Can you consolidate you car loan and credit card debt to one debt which requires only one, significantly reduce monthly repayment? Where debt is consolidated, remember that it must not then be re-accumulated. Cut up those credit cards and throw them away. They may have encouraged you to live beyond your means and created your problems in the first instance.
Home electric bills and more can be reduced very easily in many instances. Turn appliances off and don’t leave them in standby mode. Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Take the time to do a brief tour of your own home and look at what is using electricity or gas and think in each instance how you can reduce expenditure. Where it is an option, also consider changing your electricity or gas supplier.
How much food does your household discard on a weekly basis? Are you sure you want to know? Unfortunately, if money problems rear their ugly head, this is one of the biggest factors you are going to have to address. Grocery bills are one of your biggest outgoings and by ensuring only what is required is actually purchased, taking the time to examine alternative supermarkets in your area and not giving in to life’s little supermarket temptations, the money which can be saved is substantial.
Do you take the car to visit the store five hundred yards away? Do you spend an hour or more stuck in gridlock every day when car pooling or public transport are options? How much do you spend on gas each week? Walk to the store and improve your health, as well as saving on gas. Car pool or take the bus and save money and the planet. This also saves on car maintenance in more ways than on gas.
Eating out is great fun, as is going to the movies, or to bars for a drink and fun time. Whether with the family or on your own, however, heading out for the night is an expensive business. Are you doing it more often than your income allows? Why not try cooking at home, watching a DVD rather than going out, or enjoying a beer or two in front of your own TV instead of at your favorite bar? This is another potential big saver.
It is likely there will always be items on anyone’s list of weekly expenditure that don’t fit a particular category. This is the dreaded, “Miscellaneous,” section which will apply to everyone in different ways. Do you buy a newspaper on the way to work every morning that you rarely read? Do you subscribe to a magazine that you throw in the trash each month when it arrives in the mail? Examine your expenditure list and if it is detailed enough, you should hopefully be able to put a heavy score through several items of this type.
Family buy in
When you have taken the time to analyze your expenses and draw up your list of dos and don’ts, it may well be time to secure the family buy in. There is no point in defining ways to save on electricity where your teenagers like the house to be lit up like a Christmas tree every night, especially when you’re not home. There’s no point in stopping buying a newspaper every day where your significant other buys a TV guide that goes similarly unread. A family conference on this subject may not be pleasant but can be essential.
There are times in everyone’s life where professional help of one type or another is required. This applies to money problems every bit as much as anything else. If you have tried all the steps above and still don’t know where to turn, contact an independent adviser in your area. Find them on Google or in the telephone directory. Take every possible step to ensure they are reputable, swallow your pride and accept a helping hand.
Money problems can be, and very often are pure hell. However, know above all that they will only go away where they are made to go away by decisive, positive action and take that first step today on the road to your brighter, easier and more prosperous tomorrow.