Sense & Centsibility Blog

What to do During Tight Financial Times

Whether it's the vet, vehicle tabs, new tires, or even a concert you want to attend it never fails: two-three times per year most people have several large expenses that all come up in the same month or two. If you really want to go to that concert or keep your pets healthy, I'm guessing you will do whatever you can to make it all work. If this sounds familiar, here are ways to tighten the bootstraps to make your budget work without going into debt. And remember, it's only temporary.

A vice squeezing the word "budget"Cut out the extras

Skip the coffee shop and dining out and any other expenses that you don't really need. Cut back on expensive nights/days out, too. There are a lot of cheap date night and family day ideas out there.

Temporarily suspend services

Most gyms and cable companies will let you put your membership or subscription on hold. Cable alone might free up $100/month for you.

Do it yourself

Within reason, skip paying for services and do the work yourself. This can be mowing your lawn, cleaning your house, or fixing your car. If you're not mechanically savvy, see if you have a friend/family member that can do the work cheaper or with whom you can swap services. If you're good at cooking, maybe they'd take a couple home cooked meals as payment.

Sell things

Have a garage sale or find a safe site online to sell items you no longer need/use.

Increase income

Work overtime, look for a part-time job, or help friends/family for a small fee. If they need the help anyway, it'll likely be cheaper for them while you make a little money. Check out Ideas for increasing income for even more suggestions.

Ask for temporary relief

You can check with your student loan lender or other lenders to see if you can get a temporary forbearance where you don't have to make payments. Two important things though: make sure you don't have to pay extra fees or a large lump sum after the 3-4 month (or whatever you work out) is completed. If the forbearance will make it more difficult to resume payments, then it's not going to be helpful.

The best way to do this is not just using one of the above tips. It will be more fruitful for you if you do a combination of things. You'll be surprised how quickly it will add up so that you can afford to pay that vet bill in full without creating debt and another monthly payment.

Once you're back to budget status quo, think about increasing savings for emergencies AND periodic expenses. Building savings is the best way to avoid not being prepared for those larger, and sometimes unexpected, expenses. If credit cards are your main concern and they're making it difficult to keep up on all of your expenses, a Debt Management Plan may be exactly what you need. Check out our testimonials for how the DMP has helped the people we serve.

If you want to see if it's right for you, call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule your free and confidential financial counseling session. Or, GET STARTED online right now. Take action now to improve your finances and eliminate your debt.

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.