Part 2 Includes:
- Self-evaluation Questions 1
- Concerning Chronic Illness & Fixed Incomes
- Credit Cards and Personal Loans
- Student Loans, Medical Debt, & Mortgages
Obviously, you need an income. There are plenty of resources out there about how to get income either by getting a job or starting your own thing, so I’m not going to go in-depth on how to get a job. I’ll add some links at the bottom pf this section for you to check into about getting jobs and side hustles.
What I will say about an income is this: Make sure whatever you are doing for income is stable, smart, and legal. Make sure it isn’t really just costing you more than you’re making. Yes, that’s very possible, and we can be blind to that. Think things through from a logical standpoint, or even get a trusted, mature, responsible source to evaluate your situation/plan, and tell you honestly if it’s good or not. A consistent income, and making sure you have enough of it coming in, are the two most important things to remember here.
If you’re making $10/hr, working 8 hours a day, that’s $80 before “They” take out taxes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends $7,729 a year on food. That comes out to about $644 a month on food, both buying groceries and going out, which is about $21 a day. If your job is rather far away, you have to account for gas to get there. So, with just food and gas, we’ll say that will come up to around $30 a day at least. That’s not including car maintenance, rent, bills or anything else, so be smart about making your income.
Some things you can do to minimize expenses related to your job:
*Bring all food and drinks with you from home to prevent using vending machines or buying lunch out.
*Attempt to rideshare to help save on gas and car maintenance.
*Be smart about scheduling once you do have a job.
Seems obvious, right? Well, not so much to some people. If you’re part of a couple with children who are young, scheduling can be a pretty big deal. At this stage, you’re really wanting to try to avoid having to pay for childcare at all. Avoiding needing childcare should be one of your main priorities when deciding on a job and schedule because it eats up an incredible amount of money. If you both work, take opposite shifts so one parent can always be home with the kids.
You can go ahead and get that nonsense of “me time” and “a man needs his downtime,” out of your head now because those things are for when you have a life that is at least halfway together. Real self-care can be practiced without sacrificing money in any aspect, whether it be through wasting on extravagant purchases, or having the kid go to daycare so someone has free time without it being productive time.
This is buckle-down, no nonsense time because it HAS to be, especially if children are involved.
For a parent who cares about their child’s well-being, there is no other choice because most situations that have led to you reading this advice mean you’re dangerously close to not being able to provide for your kids. Until you’ve made the necessary changes to your lifestyle and gotten yourself back on track, you have to sacrifice “alone time” and time as a couple. A strong relationship can handle this sacrifice.
If there are other problems in the relationship that will complicate that, you need to be discussing things, possibly even trying therapy, or in some cases, move on from each other. Sometimes, not being together is better for many reasons, yes even if there are children involved. Mature adults can co-parent without having to be together. Be mature and do what is best for the health and happiness of everyone involved.
Kids CAN tell when something is wrong between the parents, whether we go to great lengths to hide the issues or not. They sometimes know us better than we know ourselves because they spend so much time observing us. Don’t think “staying together for the kids” is a noble thing to do. Most times, it isn’t.
One last thing to remember about a job is- it’s a job, not a career. Unless you’ve been in the same job for several years, you do not have job security and need to act accordingly. Even if you think nothing is gonna happen, it can. The fact you found yourself in this situation is proof of that. You should ALWAYS have a backup job in the works. Don’t stop putting in applications when you get a job. Strive to retain the job you do have, but prepare for if you can’t.
Be a good employee. Follow policies, guidelines, and rules even if you believe they should be changed. For now. Keep your head down and stack your cash. You can get into changing policy and all those other things when you’re a bit more established. At the moment, you need to focus on getting back on track, THEN you can work on advancing.
I know that’s frustrating, and even depressing, but the keyword you need to be remembering while reading this is TEMPORARY. For most people, these are all temporary solutions to reach better stability so you can reach REAL stability, because once you’ve put all this into practice (and really been diligent about it,) for awhile, you’ll see a significant change.
Articles & Sites To Help You Get a Job
ResumeHelp.org– Visit this site to get help creating a resume for free.
Career Contessa– 15 Phone Interview Tips
FocusInChaos– I was going to post a specific article, then I saw the rest of the blog. This site is full of informative articles related to job searching and interviews. I suggest reading through all of them that are relevant to your situation.
Self-evaluation Questions 1
Whether you have a job, or not, take some time to ask yourself these questions:
▫️Realistically, and keeping in mind everything we’ve gone over, what are the main reasons you either haven’t been able to get a job? Or haven’t been able to keep one for more than a year, or two?
▫️If you HAVE been able to keep a steady job, what are the other factors contributing to your financial issues?
▫️Thinking about all aspects of whatever contributing factors, what are the aspects you have some control over?
▫️If you’re having trouble answering these questions, try writing down all the jobs you’ve had the past 5 years and the real reasons you had to leave each time. This can help reveal a pattern of behavior or “happenings.” Remember: Being 100% honest with yourself is the absolute most important thing about this course. No one sees your answers unless you choose to share them, so there’s no reason not to put the raw truth down.
Concerning Chronic Illness & Fixed Incomes
For those of you that live on a fixed income, or are chronically ill, this whole process can be even more difficult than it is for the average person. Since your income is limited, it makes it pretty hard to be able to afford all of the expenses, especially if you add in a bunch of medical stuff.
I understand because I have chronic illnesses that prevent me from holding a traditional job. It makes this whole thing take longer, and yes, it’s harder. It can feel pretty impossible. I continuously live these methods to get by until my income increases. It works, but it can be frustrating, and feel bleak. I haven’t taken a vacation for at least 10 years. I haven’t purchased anything other than absolute necessities since I stopped working three years ago. It isn’t fun, but it’s necessary for my survival. If you’re in this situation, I hope there are things in here that help relieve some of the stress and strain.
My suggestion, in addition to the rest of this course, is to find assistance programs, ask for help, and develop any skills you can possibly use to make money. Some states have what they call a “rehabilitation” program that will help people with disabilities, who haven’t applied for, or aren’t qualified, to receive benefits yet. They will help you learn new skills, qualify for programs, and a variety of other things to try to help you be productive.
There are those I just mentioned, and other programs offered, as well as the option to apply for disability benefits. Yes, I know- MUCH easier said than done, but still possible. It can take quite awhile for you to be approved, so finding other things to do in the meantime will be necessary.
As mentioned above, developing new skills that you can use to make money is a good way to supplement your income. There are many things you can do as “side work.” You can find crafts to make and sell, figure out a service you can offer, or even look into some of the at-home businesses.
Be careful that you don’t get involved with companies that you’ll ultimately spend more money working for than you make. There are plenty out there. IF you do choose to get involved in these types of businesses, check them through the Better Business Bureau and any other agency you can think of. Look up real stories from people who have been involved with them. Do a search for any lawsuits that have been filed against the company. Protect yourself.
Here are a couple of good articles with information about making money from home:
Yes, there are some of the same suggestions in each, however, they all offer at least one idea or link that is different, so please take the time to read them thoroughly:
The Work at Home Wife – A very good resource overall for working from home. Great information.
How To Make Money Using Amazon Mechanical Turk– This article is specifically concerning how to use Amazon MTurk, but the site has a variety of information that is useful..
Data Entry Jobs– Dollarsprout.com gives you a list of where to find data entry jobs that you can do from home
SmartCentsMom– Really a list that includes many of the different ways to make money online. Great resource.
Alex Nettheim- 11 Ways To Earn $250 a Month Without Leaving Your Couch
Whatever you can legally do to make money, do it. In addition, look into assistance from the individual companies that manufacture your medications. Some of them offer vouchers for free prescriptions, and some offer coupons for discounts, or programs you can apply for, that will give you a discounted rate on the medicine.
For expenses related to ER visits, hospital stays, and surgeries: Many of these places offer a program that will forgive your debt, or at least a large portion of it. Ask a patient advocate to help you find what options are available to help pay.
For doctor’s appointments, many offices offer assistance in three ways:
◾Some have a sliding scale fee that you can pay if your income is below a certain limit.
◾They also sometimes have samples of medications they can give you. It’s also good to take a copy of the medications your insurance covers with you to each appointment so the doctor can try to prescribe something it covers.
◾Ask the nurse or receptionist what options are available to help alleviate the financial hardship of your illnesses. They usually have someone in the office that handles that kind of thing, or can give you some paperwork to send somewhere.
Many hospitals and doctors offices have ways of reducing or eliminating your medical debt based on your income.
Types of assistance you can look into:
You never know what may help. I’m also listing a couple of articles that have good information about working from home. There is even an option called Care Credit that you can get for both humans and animals that can help you pay for medical expenses. Research all of these things for your area and take advantage of whatever you can.
Growing Family Benefits- Assistance programs– A page that lists many different ways to get assistance with medical expenses.
Department of Health and Human Services– Go here to see what programs you qualify for.
USA.gov– Help with bills. Another place to search for any government related programs that can help you pay expenses.
Joshua Harr Shane Foundation– Their mission is to offer assistance to the critically ill, to special needs individuals, and to the military during times of hardship and need.
FamilyVoices– Assistance for Children & Youth with special health care needs. Scroll to the bottom to choose your state.
FamiliesUSA-Share Your Story about needing financial assistance with medical expenses.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
The Assistance Fund– Help with specialty medication.
Care Credit– An organization that can help with medical expenses. Sort of like a credit card but only for medical related things.
Benefits.gov is an online resource to help you find federal benefits you may be eligible for in the United States.
Debt.org– Lists different options for help with medical expenses.
National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics– You can use this page to search for free clinics in your area.
Hill-Burton-Free and Reduced-Cost Health Care.
Patient Advocates – Can assist in all aspects of being a patient.
DentalLifeline– Assistance for dental care.
NeedyMeds– State funded programs for prescription assistance.
CancerCare– Help specifically for those who are battling cancer.
As always, I encourage you to search for this type of assistance in your local area, too. There may be a special program or organization in your community that can help even more than some of these national resources.
Once you’re making an income somehow, the next obvious thing is: BUDGETING, of course. You gotta make that money really work for you and stretch, stretch, stretch. LITTLE SAVINGS ADD UP. Even the tiniest amount. I’ll have some tips for bigger savings too, but don’t underestimate all the little ones I throw in here.
“When budgeting, you always, always, always want to overestimate your expenses, and underestimate your potential income.”
When budgeting, you always, always, always want to overestimate your expenses, and underestimate your potential income. Doing this will hopefully always leave you a bit of wiggle room. Don’t wind up making yourself short on money trying to do that clever money managing thing. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Odds are, you’re reading this because you’ve found yourself in a financial struggle more than once, or it’s so extreme that you have found yourself left with absolutely nothing. This is likely a result of always believing your money will stretch much farther than it actually will.
The mindset you need to have now is that you NEVER have enough money so that you can train your brain to always think you have less than you do. I know it sounds silly, but it’s all part of that changing your perspective. REALLY changing it. Not just saying “Oh yeah, I get it,” and trying to apply all the concepts. You have to actually make your brain change how it thinks.
So, think smaller, and in a more budget-friendly way, even if that takes consciously forcing yourself to do so. I know, I know. People are usually saying “dream bigger.” That’s all well and good for the most part, but dreaming too big may be at least part of why you’re here. Even if not, when trying to get finances under control, thinking smaller is necessary.
Remember our mantra: Less is better TEMPORARILY to have more stability. There are many different budgeting techniques out there. I suggest looking at several and seeing what works for you, or you can do it how I do. Whatever you choose, make sure you are literally writing down every penny you spend. It will help you tremendously to visually see where your money is going every paycheck.
◾Keep accurate financial records, and work on them daily. Sit down at the end of each day and write down all expenses, and balance all of your accounts. This is especially important if you’re using a debit card for purchases.
◾STOP MAKING EXCUSES for yourself. MAKE the time to make these changes. STOP trying to do it your way. During this time in your life, you should ALWAYS KNOW YOUR BALANCE, or how much cash you have, if you don’t use banks. Don’t lie to yourself about what you’re spending.
I use a three stage budget to make sure I’m staying on top of things. One for each pay period, one for monthly expenses, and one for quarterly, six months, and yearly expenses. I put all those last three on the same sheet because there are fewer of those, and some people won’t have all of those expenses. Ideally, you want to have your budget for the month, quarter, six months, and yearly expenses ready so you can work the amounts you’ll need into your budget for every paycheck. I make both a handwritten copy, and an Excel spreadsheet. Physically writing it is helpful, and the digital copy is good for organization and records.
For instance, many people pay their insurance every three or six months because it makes it a little cheaper to do it that way. Things like your car registration/inspection, driver’s license, property taxes, etc., are all expenses you need to be planning for that aren’t necessarily monthly or day-to-day. Each person has some type of fees like this- make sure you’re accounting for all of your own, and any for the rest of the family.
A note about what you’re including in your budget:
I’m not going to pretend like you should be able to afford to keep up with payments on student loans and major medical debt when you’ve been homeless and trying to get back on your feet. There’s a section about what to do about those things (for now,) a little further in, but you WILL eventually need to work these things into your budget so you can stay current. That’s after you get a bit of stability happening. I’ll discuss that later, too.
If you get paid every two weeks, and factoring as if you started budgeting on January 1st-
◾For quarterly expenses, you’d divide by 6 to know what you’ll need to save from each paycheck to have that amount ready at the end of 3 months.
◾For six months, divide by 12, and yearly expenses divide by 24. If you don’t get paid every two weeks, adjust that for whatever your pay frequency is; if you aren’t starting your budget in January, also adjust accordingly. Add those amounts together and list it as “3-12 mos fees” on your budget for every pay period.
◾ Monthly fees like rent, utilities, and anything else you have to pay by the month, should be done the same. Just divide by two if you get paid every two weeks so you know what to put back. Add those to your pay period budget sheet listed under “Monthly,” so you aren’t scrambling to pay it all out of one paycheck.
Make your budget for the pay period showing what you need to spend where, then check off each as it happens. If you keep finding yourself constantly having to add things to the list throughout the pay period, you know you need to be putting more thought into your budget, or stop buying extra things that aren’t really needed. The goal is to not have to add things because you are thinking things through and accounting for everything you NEED.
Some people make their budget after they receive their paycheck, but you need to be doing it beforehand so that you aren’t thinking in terms of how to spend every penny, but rather sticking to the basics so you can hopefully have some money to put back into those savings and emergency funds.
Budgeting helps you control spending as long as you make yourself stick to it, but what about the spending you’ve already done?
I’m going to guess that many of you have plenty of stuff that you could downsize, and also need some tips on preventing that from happening in the future since it likely contributed to the overall problem in the first place. Like I mentioned before, evaluating ALL aspects of your life for where to save money is important.
Stepping out of your own perspective and looking at things strictly from a money-saving point of view is also crucial to your success. Remember, you have to temporarily let go of all those expectations of what we just “have” to do, or have, to be considered a “real person,” either by society, or ourselves. The image we have of ourselves, and our life, and what we think should be, can be our worst enemy.
I know because I was my own worst enemy for years, and it took someone opening my eyes for me to be able to see it.
Those ideals, and what we WANT to be, are often what keep us in the cycle of struggling. Yes, things can happen that are out of our control. Yes, they can be absolutely devastating, and so very unfair. Injury, acute illness, and chronic illness are all very real issues that can have a huge impact on whether you can get out of the cycle. Despite any of those things that are actual REASONS for financial struggle, you can still only control your OWN reactions and decisions, so it still has to come down to getting your perspective right.
No amount of grieving for a better life, or pointing out how messed up situations are, will help anything. No amount of compassion or sympathy from others will get you out of the cycle sustainably. The only thing that WILL- is taking control of your situation and owning whatever happens. Then, LEARN from it. You CAN eventually have all that stuff you think you need, and want, if you stick to this plan and really buckle down for, at the very least, several months. When I finally realized all of this, everything changed in my head, and the change seemed to seep into every aspect of my being.
Resources To Help With Budgeting:
7 Steps To Create a Basic Budget from Scratch– from Life Fully Caffeinated
Kayla Haas- Our Real Budget as a Single Income Family
CREDIT CARDS AND PERSONAL/PAYDAY LOANS:
If you’re really struggling, you need to stop using credit cards for now because they’re just going to get you in deeper. I know it seems like they are helping you “get by,” but they’re not. They are just costing you more. Think of it like this- For every item you purchase on a credit card, figure out how many months it will take you to pay it, then take the overall price and multiply it by the interest rate. Multiply THAT number by however many months it will take, then add it to the price to see what you are REALLY paying for each item- if you’re paying the full payment, on time, every month.
If you’re not paying the bill in full, on time every month, you could end up paying almost double, or even triple for an item you purchased on a credit card. On top of the added cost, not being able to afford to pay it off on time also hurts your credit. Think about all of that.
Yes, they are sooo tempting to use because they can solve your immediate problem, but they just cause more problems .
On the off chance you ARE paying your bill, full payments and on time, you’re still wasting money by paying the added interest for using the card at all. For the time being, it’s better to just not use the credit cards while you’re working towards stability. Put them aside and use your cash. You can start using them again once you have your savings and emergency funds established. Once there, then you can afford that little bit of interest the cards cost you.
Aside from credit cards, people also turn to payday loan businesses or take out personal loans at their bank, again, to “get by.” If your income is large enough that you can really afford these things- you probably don’t REALLY need to be reading this, so I’m gonna go ahead and say- these are bad things for you to do. You always end up paying way more than you borrowed, which keeps you in constant debt. It’s a cycle that is nearly impossible to get out of if you don’t make enough money. Those services can be useful tools when you have an increase in incoming coming AND are already stable, otherwise, they are traps.
See, the catch there is- if you REALLY make enough money to pay it back, you’ll rarely need those services.
You’ll only need it when real emergencies happen, not to just “get by” until the next paycheck. If you have enough to use this service, you pay it back and don’t use it again until the next major emergency happens.
Using these payday and personal loans for day-to-day expenses because your paycheck isn’t enough is a trap that just adds to your struggles. If you can’t make your check stretch until the next one, what makes you think you can ever pay back a loan and still have enough to survive without borrowing again? That’s the problem with borrowing money from these places.
Borrowing money from family or friends really isn’t a whole lot better. While it MAY help you make it day-to-day without causing quite as much stress as a payday loan, you still have to pay that money back, and it has to come out of your budget SOMEWHERE. Which means somewhere along the line, it’s going to add to the struggle. Bottom line is– try to avoid borrowing at this stage, period. Try to avoid borrowing in the future unless it can be a LONG-TERM option that will give you the opportunity to increase your income, or get rid of other expenses, before it needs repaid.
Do keep in mind, part of changing your perspective is going to be not expecting to get bailed out by others because you realized your own actions have to be how you get out of this cycle. This means limiting what you borrow, and trying to avoid it if at all possible, whether it’s borrowing using credit cards, short-term loans, or friends/family.
I thought about adding some references here for help with this kind of debt, but the fact is, all of those types of programs have lots of fine print that make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to point you towards something that may create problems somewhere down the road. If you choose to use any debt relief programs for ANY type of debt, please thorougly read the fine print and check with all governing agencies you can to see if it’s a good program.
STUDENT LOANS, MEDICAL DEBT, & MORTGAGES:
So many people have one, or all, of these types of debt that I have to include a section about them. Student loans, medical debt, and mortgages are all things you WILL need to be keeping up with as much as possible. If you’ve been struggling, you may have already stopped making these payments. If so, you need to contact whoever has control of them and explain your extreme financial situation to see what options are available to you.
There are organizations out there that claim to help with this process, but I cannot tell you whether they are a good idea to use because I have no personal experience with them. If you want to use one of these services, I suggest you thoroughly investigate them before getting involved. Some can be useful and help you consolidate debt, but others are a trap. Do your homework before using. There is one site that does at least have some good information that may be helpful:
The method I prefer to use is to contact the agency that is collecting on your loan, the original financial institution that loaned you the money, and/or the school you attended. Some schools will help alumni with their loan issues, but not all. All you can do is ask if they have any resources available for helping with loan repayment, consolidation, or deferment. If you haven’t missed many payments, you may be able to contact the original financial institution, but they also may have turned it over to some type of collections agency. Whichever it is, contact someone and figure it out. Do SOMETHING about them. Letting them go completely will create bigger problems later- like wage garnishment, seizure of any tax refund you may be eligible for, and other bad things.
For medical debt:
You can contact either the doctor/hospital you received services at, or the agency they have collecting the bill for them, or both. I say both because you can get very different answers from them. The collection people will ALWAYS want money. Medical facilities sometimes have programs, grants, and charities available to them that can help you get part, or all, of the debt forgiven. My local hospital will give you the paperwork in the ER, or during your admission. Just give the billing department a call and ask if they have any options available. One way or the other, you should at least be able to make arrangements to make a very small payment each month.
Mortgages are quite a bit different from student loans and medical debt, but I still want to say a bit about them here. I’m definitely no expert on these things, but I do know there are options out there for homeowners. What you’re eligible for will depend on many things, but looking into all the possibilities won’t hurt. See if there is a way to lower your interest rate or anything else that can save you money, or make your monthly payments a little bit easier.
There are multiple organizations out there to help with this, but again, I have no personal experience with them. You’ll want to investigate them thoroughly if you choose to go with that option. If not, try talking to your local bank or credit union. They often have people to counsel you on what would be better. Their job is to help you make smart financial decisions, but don’t just blindly follow their advice. Educate yourself.
I cannot really express enough how important it is to research your specific situation and options. Everyone is different, and much of my advice is the kind that just gives you guidelines because there are so many factors that matter. You have to decide what to apply to your situation.
So, there are several less obvious ways to save, and make, money by downsizing in most areas of your life. Remember I said we’d get to some things in more detail later? Well, Part 3 is the beginning of “later.” I’m sure you’ve been dreading it, but we’ll move on to them now that we have some of the other stuff out of the way. Throughout, I will include some additional tips I came across that go along with each topic.
End of Part 2. Use the images below to go back to the first section, or onto the next (when finished.)