Have you ever been looking for financial advice and found a ton that didn't apply to you?
I feel you. There is a lot of financial advice out there to help us all thrive and gain financial freedom but the truth of the matter is that there are a number of us just trying to survive. We are in pursuit of financial security.
We are regular people out here trying to make sure our kids always have money on their lunch accounts. We are counting pennies to make sure we can cover rent this month without incurring a late fee. We may even have made significant strides in our work and business to a point where we are making more money than ever before but still deal with the shadow effects of our days with less.
To address people like us and our needs I came up with 10 tips to help us with our search for security.
1. Take Care of Home Before You Take Care Of Your Credit
We see a lot of information about repairing credit and for many of us, we don't understand how important maintaining good credit is until its too late. So there's no wonder that we want to fix it as quickly as possible. To repair your credit you must: Remove Negative Reports, Add New Accounts, and Pay on Time. Attempting to repair your credit when you have yet to get a handle on your recurring household finances can cause you to miss payments and which can lead your credit back down a slippery slope. Additionally, you have less power if you do not have money, A lot of companies will negotiate removal of negative reports in exchange for a settlement payment on the account. Ensuring that your house is in order consistently before attempting to repair your credit is worth the wait and can help you repair your credit in less time without further damage.
2. Borrow From Friends and Family
I know we don't always want to but sometimes it's necessary. Think about it. Taking a loan out from a bank comes with interest and at the end of the day, you are further in debt than when you started. If you are able to borrow from friends and family they will typically not charge interest and if they do, it won't be as much as the bank would. Yes, you may have to sit through a less than desirable conversation about how you need to do better with your money but that's ok. Let them have their win so you can better position your self up for financial security. Make sure you say thank you.
3. Only Borrow What You Can Afford
Whether its a loan from family, friends or the bank, only borrow what you can honestly and truly afford without setting you back again. This is how so many of us gathered the large quantities of student loan debt. We took the full amount instead of what we needed to survive. Don't let the gold distract you from your ultimate goals. Take only what you need and press on.
4. Talk About It
Not enough people talk about money and when we do it's typically how much we make and never how much we owe. It's ok to talk about money, specifically the challenges you face and the pressure to manage it better. Money affects all parts of our lives and can absolutely have a detrimental effect on our mental and emotional health in addition to our households and livelihood. A lot of us watched our parents and grandparents dodge, duck, dip, and dodge bill collectors while growing up and we carried that into adulthood. STOP! Not only should you answer when they call but you should beat them to the phone. Talk about your personal challenges, ask for extensions, changes of due dates, and payment arrangements to help ease the financial burdens upon you.
5. Downsize and Downgrade
Understanding the difference between essentials, needs, comforts, and wants is the difference between climbing out and staying in a poor financial space for many. I know you are saying that essentials and needs are the same but they are not. Needs refer to those things that we would literally die without food, clean water, consistent shelter. Essentials are things like transportation, communication devices, and the internet ( in this day and age everyone needs it, even the kids for homework). Once you are clear on which expenses you have in each category you can start looking for places that you can downgrade or downsize. Do you really need that new iPhone or just a working phone? Do you really need internet speeds that fast or the discounted option? Netflix AND Disney+? Come on now. Trim where you can and put the extra in a more useful place.
6. Get Less More Often
While it may require more work this is something that has saved me so much money lately. I used to go to Sam's Club or Costco and shop for the month, only to waste fresh produce due to a hectic schedule, not wanting what we had to eat, or simply forgetting there was food in the fridge. Big items that I know we will purchase repeatedly like chicken breasts, I'll buy in bulk because it can be frozen. Fresh produce (because we don't do many canned goods) I will buy weekly or twice a week and only what I plan to cook or make that week. You think you're going to eat far more than you truly will when you buy in bulk. It's like shopping FOMO. Also with clothes. My kids are young and young kids grow like weeds. If I purchased 12 pairs of jeans at the beginning of the season all in the same size, I would find myself buying another 12 pair 1/2 way through the season. Instead, I make sure my kids have 4 pairs of jeans at any time. Sweat pants, dresses, and leggings cover the rest of their wardrobe and can often be worn as they grow. The only time I'll buy a lot of clothes at once is during the tax-free week for back to school shopping. Then we buy their current size and the next size up.
7. Be Honest
First and foremost, be honest with yourself. Don't take on more than you can afford to repay. Don't lie about why you need what you need. Don't omit the decisions that helped you to this point of struggle. Be honest. Face your truth. Then address it and conquer it. We cannot fix that which we fail to see. Anything that is not the truth is only there to feed your ego and trust me, it's not worth the challenges created by being only partially truth about your circumstances.
8. Respect Your Progress
Yes, other people appear to be further and to be making more and managing better than you but here are a couple of things to consider. You don't KNOW their life. Not everyone or everything is as it seems. What most people reveal and allow others to see is rooted in ego, not reality (Check #7). What you need to do is focus on you. You are not in the same space that you were last year. That's progress. Moving forward is the goal. Not moving fast. Don't reduce what you have done based on what others have shown you. Sit in you win, especially the smalle ones because that helps build the momentum of success and motivates you to remain consistent and persistent. If you haven't gotten it yet, its because you have not yet become the person that will receive it. Remember, God's perfect timing at your unique pace will get you to what's yours every time.
9. Make More Money
To bridge the gap between what you have and what you need can be accomplished in two ways: spending less and making more. Apply both. Find ways that you can make more money without incurring additional expenses. Perhaps a raise at your current job. Side work that doesn't require you use your own resources like car and gas, or offering your support in an area that you perform well in like a virtual assistant.
10. Pay Tax Free
This is something that I didn't realize I needed until I started using it. Putting money aside or on a debit card for Health expenses, child care, and other qualifying Flexible spending expenses allows you to make your money go further. This pre-taxed allocated fund allows you to ensure that you not only have money on hand for certain expenses but that you are not taxed on that income. Having two children, maxing out my child care spending allotment allows me the peace of knowing that I always have money on hand for daycare so no late fees will ever be incurred. Those late fees can definitely add up and throw your whole account off. I mentioned earlier that doing as much shopping as possible for your children's clothing during tax-free events can help save you hundreds a year. Just consider buying more at once and in different sizes so that you have clothes on hand as your children grow.
Do you have other tips or advice that can help real people still trying to make ends meet? Join us in the Goal Getter Collective and share them with us. I'd love to hear and implement some of your ideas.