There are times that no matter how carefully we have planned and laid the groundwork for the future; the rug gets pulled out from under us. Job loss, illnesses, accidents, and unexpected home or auto repair bills can plummet us into debt. Although no one can ever truly prepare for financial disaster, there are steps that can pull us out from under oppressive financial strain.
Formulate a Plan
After you’ve recovered from the initial shock, take the time to review all of your outstanding bills and their due dates. Assess what you can do in the short term to lessen the blow of the financial burden. Draw up a proposed payment plan, outlining the worst, best, and mid level case scenarios. Think of this as a roadmap to your way out of debt. It’s also a good idea to see the true situation in black and white, and can be a helpful tool. Begin paying off the smallest debts first. Now is also the time to investigate hardship loans and debt consolidation programs. In addition, turn to family members and friends for immediate help.
Find Part Time Employment
If at all possible; seek out at least one part time job. Evaluate your skill set and leave no stone unturned. That is, be resourceful, market yourself, and remember that it will not be forever. Service jobs such as newspaper delivery, house cleaning, yard work, and dog walking are always in demand. What special skills do you have? Tutoring and elder care are also positions that many never consider and are typically flexible and rewarding.
Debt can also lead to creativity when it comes to living a no frills lifestyle. Shopping second hand, dining at home, and using public transportation are simple ways to save money. The public library is a wonderful resource for not just books, but CD’s and DVD’s as well. When you are in debt, looking for ways to cut corners must become second nature. Think of it as a game, not a hardship.
Devise A Weekly Budget
After you have figured out your finances, plan a weekly budget. Write it down and do your best to stick to it. Look over what you spend each day and see if there is anything that can be trimmed or taken out completely. For food and necessities, shop at dollar stores, clip coupons, and shop sales. Being frugal rather than wasteful is a good habit and can set you on a new path of saving, even when you are out of debt!
In times of hardship, do not isolate yourself. People from all walks of life have been in tough financial situations at one time or another. In other words, you are not alone. Spending time with others and even working, as a volunteer is a great way to get your mind off your troubles. It may even help you see the light at the end of your tunnel! The important thing is to stay focused and on track with your plan.