If you’re struggling to pay your bills month after month, that’s obviously a serious problem. But you’re certainly not alone in this predicament.
According to the Urban Institute, 4 out of every 10 Americans struggle to foot the bill for 1 or more basic requirements like housing and food. The study, based on responses from close to 7,600 adults, shows that 34% of adults indicated that their households had difficulty meeting 1 or more primary needs over the last year. Close to 24% of respondents said that they were unable to meet 2 or more financial requirements in 2017, and 14% acknowledged that they had 3 or more such problems over the past year.
So if you run out of money before the month has come to a close, what is there to do? What follows is a look at 5 things you can do if the financial rat race has you feeling trapped.
1. Make More
One way you can overcome your financial difficulties is to make more. Of course, that sounds like an obvious suggestion, but are you actually making the most of it in your everyday life? While it might be out of the question for you to request a raise at this time or to find another job elsewhere, you can make more by developing a side hustle. This would require you to find another job -- or more than one -- that you pursue part-time when you’re not at your full-time job.
The potential for a side hustle is almost limitless. Do you love animals? Why not start a dog-walking or pet-boarding business? Do you have a utility trailer? Why not start up a side business where you transport junk to the landfill? Is retail experience part of your skillset? Why not find a part-time job at a restaurant or store in the neighborhood? So, as you can see, there are lots of opportunities to diversify your income stream.
2. Require Less
This one is harder because it involves exercising something that can be painful -- self-denial. We live in a consumer age where we’re used to getting what we want, when we want. When you combine this reality with that fact that too many people try to keep up with the Joneses rather than to live within their means, you can understand why so many are struggling financially.
Requiring less might mean selling your home and finding a cheaper house or condo. It might mean swapping a 3-bedroom apartment for a 2-bedroom apartment. It might mean selling your gas-guzzling truck or sports utility vehicle and instead getting a miserly gas-sipping sedan...or perhaps even ditching the vehicle and relying on public transportation...for a while, anyway.
If you’re willing to do some trimming to get your financial obligations and your income more in line, then make a list of things that you can either sell outright or replace with cheaper options. You might be surprised at how doing this can leave you with a budget surplus at month’s end.
3. Ditch the Plastic
Are credit cards at least partially responsible for your current financial problems? If you find that you can’t control yourself, get rid of your credit cards altogether. A compromise would be to reduce the cap on your credit cards so that you’re forced to use them selectively. Pay for products and services with cash or with your debit or Visa debit cards...and avoid overdrafts.
4. Consolidate Debt with a Loan
If you're really feeling the financial pinch, you might want to consider debt consolidation loans. Getting one will basically lump all your debt together so that you only have one lower-interest monthly payment rather than several different payments to different parties. Contact a debt provider to find out if you qualify for one of their loans.
5. Seek to Increase Monthly Debt Payments
The more you can pay monthly to reduce your debt, the better off you’ll be in the long run. You might think it’s impossible to come up with more money -- at a time when you’re already struggling to pay the minimum due -- but there are small things you can do to pay even more.
For instance, you can eat out less. Some people buy a coffee and a pastry each morning on their way to work. If you can eliminate this, you’ll be able to use the money saved to reduce the principal owing. This will end up saving you more in interest payments. And, over the long haul, you’ll be able to pay off your debt sooner. A little bit at a time will work wonders.
If you find yourself struggling in the financial rat race, don’t get too discouraged. By following the 5 tips outlined above -- or at least some of them -- you’ll eventually be able to get the situation under control.
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