I’m guessing this is not your typical e-course. I had originally planned to release this as a book, but couldn’t wrap my head around charging a price for a resource specifically meant for those who don’t have money. It just couldn’t make sense to me, so I decided to do it another way. I looked into all the e-course apps, newsletters, and similar, but basically everything wanted to make it way more complicated than necessary. That’s how we got here. I am toying with the idea of adding a discussion board here, but comments are already enabled, so if you have questions, feel free to post a comment for now. If I see it will be beneficial, I’ll add the board.
Another reason I wanted to do it this way, is because it allows me to constantly update these pages and also build links to wonderful outside resources that you can access within the course. Some of the advice you’ll find in here you’ve heard before, but I put my own little twist on just about everything, so I ask that you read thoroughly to get all the benefits. I am attempting to get some audio files of the content made, along with some videos, but those things take quite a bit of time and effort and I do all of this 100% by myself (for now.)
You may be tempted to skip some of the reading and move right into the actionable parts. Please don’t. This is a process that you need to be in the right mindset to follow. Reading it in the order it’s presented is the best way to do that.
This is a link that will allow you to donate if you have the means to do so and this information has been helpful to you. I appreciate any contributions because running this site is all I do now. I worked for as long as possible, but my body just won’t do it anymore. Anything you contribute helps me.
Table of Contents
8. My Method
15. DS: Clothing
16. DS: Toys
18. DS: Food
19. DS: Vehicles
21. DS: Impulse Buys
23. DS: Events
27. The Next Steps
28. Choosing A Place
36. Helping others
39. Resource list
This is written for people with extreme financial struggles who need methods to relieve the cycle- that will actually be possible for them to accomplish. However, pieces of this advice can be applied to just about every level of financial difficulty.
Maybe you’re homeless, jobless, have burnt all your bridges, and know exactly why you’re in the situation you are. Maybe you can’t figure out why the struggles keep happening, or maybe you just can’t afford to keep up with all of your bills; or have quite a bit of debt youu need to pay off, but just can’t find the money. Whether you need a complete financial overhaul, or to just streamline your spending- my suggestion is to go ahead and read through all of this with an open mind.
There are useful tips scattered throughout- so take what will work for you, and apply it to your life. If you are in the most extreme of situations, apply it ALL. It’s the only way. You’ll need to let go of many of your ideas of what you THINK you need- and understand that the reality is- it’s much less than society leads us to believe.
I am NOT a financial expert. Please be clear on that. I’ve just been through the struggle numerous times, and understand how to break that cycle better than some. I have to continuously live these methods because my chronic illnesses require a whole lot of money, so I know they work; and, if you don’t have something like constant medical expenses- they can give you the means to save money so that you ARE stable. If you’ve been struggling over and over, that means you need to CHANGE something. DRASTICALLY. This advice will help you do so.
If you aren’t truly financially struggling, you’re probably going to realize that fairly quickly while reading this. You’re going to think that many of these techniques and ideas are insane, and you’re probably not going to want to make the changes I’m suggesting because you have other options. There are many who DON’T.
If you ARE truly struggling, and still aren’t willing to make these changes, you need to seriously evaluate whether you want your life to get any better, because it never will until you are really willing to recognize where you’re going wrong and take steps to correct it.
Usually, at least part of the problem, and sometimes MOST of the problem, has to do with our perspective and decisions we’ve made.
There ARE sometimes things that happen TO us that are beyond our control, that create these financial struggles- but even when bad things happen, most people can still make some changes that could have made it have less of an impact. Say it with me: “There MUST be something I can change to get myself out of this cycle. I can only control my own actions, so it has to be ME that makes the changes.”
I get that there can be circumstances that can make it really hard to get out of the struggle, but that usually just means it will take you longer to get to a more stable situation than it would others. Disabilities, both physical and mental, can definitely impact your ability to be financially stable, but putting these techniques into effect can seriously help lessen the burden they create. I go into that aspect a bit more a little later.
A little history about me- I’ve both had money and lived a luxurious life, and been stuck in the struggle, broke and homeless. Having lived in both worlds, for extended periods of time (because yes, how long you had money DOES matter to your perspective,) gives me a bit of a different outlook than most.
I was blessed to be born to parents who were mature, responsible, hard-working, and from a generation who believed in giving their children the best they could AND had the opportunities to do so. I word it like this because the way that generation was able to rise above and succeed really no longer exists. It’s a different world now, and harder to really make your way unless you are very tech-savvy and skilled in something in the computer or technology industry. That’s just the reality we now have to deal with.
We have to find our own way to succeed in this new society.
As a child, I didn’t even realize that we had such a nice house and pretty much lived in luxury compared to many. Even as a teenager, I wasn’t truly aware of how wonderful I had it growing up. I knew I sometimes helped my friends by paying their way, but to me, I wanted their company, so I made it to where they could come. I still didn’t grasp what exactly that meant, even though I was considered intelligent. It wasn’t until I was an adult, and lost everything, that I really became aware of how wonderful I had it growing up.
It took losing that stability and security for me to finally see how different things can be for someone who has to worry about money 24/7. Not knowing how you’re going to get food, pay rent, or keep the utilities on is stressful and exhausting. You can’t even come home and relax after a hard day because you’re subconsciously aware that the electric or water could be disconnected at any moment.
Living without any sort of safety net means that when even one little thing happens, like a common flat tire, it can have a devastating impact on your life. Being overwhelmed by debt, and on the verge of losing your home and everything else you’ve worked for, isn’t a fun way to live, either. Whatever financial struggle you’re in, consider the information I’m presenting, and try out some of the ideas I have for changing your financial situation.
“Whatever financial struggle you’re in, consider the information I’m presenting, and try out some of the ideas I have for changing your financial situation.”
So, this perspective situation. From the time we start understanding words, we’re told what we’re “supposed” to do. That’s fine when it comes to teaching us the basics of how to be a human- but as we age, we’re inundated with society’s ideas of how we’re “supposed” to be, what we’re supposed to desire, what we need to be considered successful, and all those other expectations “they” like to have.
We are led to believe we need the “right” home, car, clothes, etc. Obviously, expectations vary depending on things like culture, and social & financial status, but they all have their “norms” of standards for people to strive for to be accepted as a “normal” member of that society. This is at least part of what causes financial struggle in just about everyone I’ve encountered.
We all have these basic things in our mind that we feel like we have to do, or own, in order to be accepted. Even if they aren’t material things, we still feel pressure to have our kids in the “right” schools, live in the “right” neighborhoods, etc. Our desire to create a good life for ourselves and our families can cause us to strive for too much, too quickly. Our intentions can be the best, but trying to keep up with all that “right” stuff can be extremely expensive and overwhelming. The pressure felt can break a person, causing them to feel like a failure.
I know because it happened to me. I failed completely, had nothing, and was broken.
“I had to let go of what I thought was acceptable, and all those expectations I had, for more realistic views.“
I decided I wasn’t going to STAY that way, though, and instead, decided to get realistic. I had to change how I thought about EVERYTHING. Instead of looking at a situation thinking “I need to make this much money to get all this stuff,” I changed my thinking to “I need to figure out how to get all I need with this much money.” Really think about that for a minute, because I realize it may initially seem like nothing, but it’s REALLY important.
Most “financial people” will probably think it’s silly, but this isn’t your ordinary advice. You can use the experts advice once you’re not worried about where you next meal is coming from, or if you’ll have a home, or whether you’ll need to file bankruptcy. Their advice is great once you’re not living in constant fear of your world falling apart from one tiny issue. My advice is to help you break the cycle of struggle and poverty that you keep finding yourself in. A pattern in your situation usually means there has to be changes that can be made somehow, usually they just aren’t the kind of changes you really WANT to make. Once I realized all of this, I also realized I had to let go of what I thought was acceptable, and all those expectations I had, for more realistic views.
“I had already made the most obvious changes, and thought I had my mind where it should be. I thought, I thought, I thought- and I was wrong.“
Is it great if I can afford to send my kids to the best schools, be “supermom”, AND have a nice car? Sure it is, but that doesn’t mean I’m not also a great parent if they have to be taught the extras at home instead of pre-school, or I have to drive an older car, and just be a normal mom. As an individual, would I love to be able to afford nice clothes, and go on vacations and have fun? Yep, I sure would, but it doesn’t make me any less of a person because I can’t afford those things. I can survive in basic clothes, a modest home, and a working vehicle. I may WANT other things, but they aren’t needed. I applied that to all aspects of my life, and thinking, because I really needed to see reality. I had already made the most obvious changes, and thought I had my mind where it should be. I thought, I thought, I thought- and I was wrong.
I also had to stop trying to “manage” my situation. See, because I was always considered intelligent, and had been fairly successful in anything I pursued, I had it in my head that I knew how to handle my finances best, as long as unexpected things didn’t come along and mess it all up. Trouble with that is, something unexpected almost always happens.
While it may have been true that I had it mostly handled, I thought I was educated and clever enough that I totally had it under control. I was very wrong. My intelligence, education, and cleverness actually contributed to the constant cycle of struggling I got into because I always had a solution or plan for everything, and those “solutions” would result in more problems to “handle.” Thus, the cycle. Inevitably, things would always become overwhelming and fall apart because of something I hadn’t planned for. I “juggled” too much and was always thinking TOO FAR ahead of where I should have been. I wanted too much, too fast. I didn’t mind putting in the actual work, it was the patience I had a problem with, along with the unrealistic perspective on what I thought I “needed.” Changing that perspective, and realizing that I needed to be transparent, were game-changers in understanding where I went wrong.
“Changing that perspective, and realizing that I needed to be transparent, were game-changers in my understanding where I went wrong.”
By transparent, I mean I realized I needed to stop “managing” and “juggling” and just start being real. You may have heard the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” That’s kinda what I mean by juggling. I’d always have it in my head that if I could temporarily pacify this person or company by putting off someone else, it would somehow work out in the end. Sometimes, it did- which is why it’s something we all do at one point or another, but many times, it just created a bigger problem.
So, when you’re trying to come back from an extreme financial situation, it’s time to be transparent and honest with anyone that has the ability to seriously affect your situation. This could be your employer, landlord, caseworker, family, or anyone else relevant. You need to be upfront about everything so that one little thing won’t make your world come crashing down. If you really want stability, you have to tell these people the real, full issue, as soon as it arises, and ask what your options are. Otherwise, you just end up getting into an even worse situation.
Do keep in mind though, that JUST being transparent doesn’t guarantee everything will always work out just fine. You also have to make every effort you can to be doing right and making progress. You have to be following the rules laid out for you, doing whatever your job is, and being a good tenant in order to expect them to give you any consideration if something happens. And not just YOUR version of those things. Sometimes, what we think should be good enough, or helpful, is not- so making sure that you’re doing the actual right thing is important. You have to be doing what is expected/required of you. You also need to make sure any “happenings” that interfere with your ability to keep up with your responsibilities, are few and far between. It is not normal for something to always happen to cause you to be late to work, or have to miss a day, or late on rent, or bills. Life can be chaotic for everyone. 90% of the time, it’s going to come down to your life management skills. If you know random things tend to happen in your life, seemingly more often than most, you need to recognize that and start planning for it. I’ll get into that a bit more later.
An important note on being transparent: There is a difference between transparency and too much information, or just making excuses. I have a little paragraph about excuses later. For now, understand that being transparent does not mean to tell them your life story and all the reasons why. It means tell them the actual issue that will have an impact on them.
There is no need to add excuses like “Well, I got laid off, and a friend didn’t give me the money back they promised, so I’m not going to have rent on time.” All that is necessary is to say “I ran into some issues that I’m currently resolving, but I am going to be a little bit late with rent. I will have it by whatever-specific-day.” This tells them there was a money issue without seeming like you’re trying to make excuses or guilt them into giving you a break. It allows the information to be better received. If you handle it this way, you’re likely to get a better reaction, and possibly even offered more options.
Upon finishing this course, you should be managing your time and money in such a way that your life is relatively boring, because you are down to a routine that you know you MUST stick to in order to get out of this struggling cycle. If issues are arising often, EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR and decisions. If you don’t find the problem, use the method (I will link to it when it’s ready,) I give you near the end of this piece and ask someone reliable what they see as the issue.
Do whatever it takes to figure it out because I promise there is something you aren’t realizing, or seeing as a problem, that you CAN change.
See where YOU can improve because ultimately, even if outside forces are affecting your situation, remember- you can only control your own reaction to them. Once you determine what the issues are, start working on them systematically. Make contingency plans if you have the type of life where something always comes up. Stop relying on things to go right when they so very obviously are not.
When problems happen, tell the affected parties immediately. You’d be surprised by how many times worse problems can be prevented simply by taking one little step as soon as the problem was realized. For example, if something pops up where you know you’ll need to be late to work on a certain day every week due to something outside your control (maybe you have a standing therapy appointment that you can’t change, or spouse has to cover a different shift than usual for awhile,) go talk to your HR department the moment you know it’s going to be a problem.
Don’t just use up your paid or unpaid time off, or other options meant for when you’re really sick or have an emergency, without at least trying to work it out some other way first. They may be able to allow you to slightly adjust your schedule on that one day for the time being by allowing you to clock back in a few minutes early from lunch, or maybe clock out just a few minutes later to make up the time you miss. At least ask. Even if there is nothing they are willing to do, you will at least know you need to be very careful with your time options. You should also be able to calculate if missing that time is going to threaten your job. If so, you can start looking for another one immediately, and possibly even arrange to start working as soon as you lose your current position.
You can’t expect there to be options like this for every little thing, but sometimes, employers are willing to work with you, within reason, as long as you DON’T MAKE IT A HABIT. If you are needing consideration or special arrangements even as often as once or twice a month, you’re making a habit out of that behavior. Special consideration should be like a once every several months, if that, kind of thing.
You shouldn’t be needing “favors,” consideration, or anything like that because you should be managing your life so that you can leave your personal life problems at home when you leave for work; and, also, preparing for work in such a way that it is not affected by whatever is happening in your personal life. It’s separation of business and pleasure/personal. At work, you should be professional and attempt to prevent your emotions from governing your actions.
That sometimes means pretending things don’t bother you when they do, or NOT stating your beliefs/opinions when it may not be the most appropriate, or smartest, thing for you to do. I know this kills you non-conformists, but I promise you- being a professional adult while at work does not make you a conformist. It makes you smart.
Do whatever you want in your free time, but be professional on company time.
Minimize how much you allow your work life to be affected by your home life- even if you work from home. If you decide to work from home, there really aren’t many reasons to ever miss work. You truly can find a workaround for any problem, short of- losing your voice, being too sick to comprehend customers, or of course, losing your equipment or internet.
That last one should only happen because of a storm, or some other act of God, or a true technical issue not on your end. It shouldn’t be because of technical issues on your end, nor because you didn’t pay the bill. The less work you miss, the more likely your employer will work with you when something does occur. Exceptions, favors, and any other type of special consideration are just that- exceptions. They should never become the norm.
6. Best Laid Plans
We’ve all done it. Made plans with the best of intentions, depended on them- and then had them blow up in our faces. When this happens, it can make our world come crashing down if we’ve put too much stake in it. This tends to happen more often with those of us that have been stuck in this struggling cycle. I think maybe it stems from our money “managing” issues. Just like the optimism we have when we think we can cleverly juggle money, we like to think our plans will work out, or that we can depend on an outside source to accomplish what they are supposed to. Depending on these things are what gets us into trouble.
Making plans for a business venture, or doing a service for future payment, are both potentially good ways to make future income, but you can’t DEPEND on them until they happen because they aren’t guaranteed. You have to look at it as income that is potentially unavailable.
A business venture is a risk, no matter what kind of business you’re doing. You’ll have ups and downs, and may or may not succeed. For services- well, there’s a pretty good reason places like doctor’s offices have signs stating they expect payment when service is rendered- because too many people don’t pay when they are supposed to.
Whether it’s because they fell on hard times, or never intended to pay, doesn’t matter. The end result is the person who performed the service doesn’t get paid. If you’ve depended on that money and it doesn’t happen, where does that leave you? Unless you have some back up income, it leaves you scrambling trying to find a way to survive. Right now, when you can barely have food for the day, or are on the verge of losing everything, is not a good time for any risky behavior.
It’s time to stop thinking about excuses completely. EVEN IF those excuses are the actual reason for whatever is happening, they are pretty useless to you when it comes down to the bottom line. When you continuously make excuses, people start seeing you as irresponsible. If the excuses are legitimate reasons, they start seeing you as too much of a bother. Yes, that can be frustrating. I get that you think if people just understood the situation, it would make things better, but the reality is- many people don’t really care what the reason is, if the result is negative. Unfortunately, that’s just reality, so doing so just causes you more problems rather than getting you any sympathy. Use all that time and effort you would normally put into trying to explain a situation into doing something that can help resolve it, or at the very least, prevent it in the future.
8. My Method
Once I got my mind where it needed to be- which took a lot, I’m not gonna lie- I researched many financial resources and different money-saving methods. I couldn’t find anything that lined up 100% with what I needed, so I just started taking aspects of all of them and adapted them to meet my needs. Some of my advice is based on the financial experts that are famous right now, but some is also adapted from minimalism and other methods. I suggest doing the same type of research to see if there is anything I left out that could be helpful to you because I don’t go over them in near the detail they do.
For those of you like me, it’s also best to read through this to the end before you even begin to really make changes so you see EVERYTHING you need to do- as long as you don’t out off reading. For some of you, it may be less overwhelming, and easier to make changes, if you do it section by section instead of reading the whole thing at once. If you need to do it this way, maybe try at least reading through the things after the downsizing before you start. While you’re doing this, be evaluating EVERY aspect of your life to look for ways you can downsize, save money, or make money. Some of the areas I’ll be going over in more detail later are space, clothing/linens/accessories, food, vehicles, toiletries/household supplies, impulse buys, entertainment, furniture, events, and more. Along the way, I’ll have links to websites that can be helpful in your journey to get back to a form of financial stability, but be sure to do your own searching for resources in your area. In the next part of the course, I’ll be going over a couple of the more obvious things you need to do to improve your finances, then we’ll be getting into downsizing.
End Part 1– Click the image below to go on to Part 2