Money, budget, finances – three words that give every adult the chills. It’s not easy living this adult life, especially when it comes to financing a lifestyle. Within the last few months, I found myself in money trouble.
Last year, I began life as a freelance writer and found three companies to work with on a consistent basis. All three clients paid me enough to be able to afford my lifestyle – rent, bills, and weekend fun. That was until March 2016. March 31, 2016, I turned 26 years old and was kicked off my parent’s health insurance. As a freelancer, none of my clients offered health insurance, so I had to find insurance, and I did for about $270. That was the first kick to my finances.
The second, third, and fourth kick came in April. I still was able to afford my lifestyle with the income that I had, I just wasn’t going to be able save. And then random bills popped up that I hadn’t planned for. Physical therapy (which overcharged me), car maintenance, bridesmaid dress, random bills, presents, and more. Then at the end of April, I quit working with one of my clients (that’s a blog for another time), went on an already planned vacation to New Orleans, and by the middle of May, I was drowning in debt — perhaps, less than others but more debt than I usually had.
All in all, the experience reminded me that I am not the only one who goes through hard money times. So here’s some tips and tricks to help others going through financial hardship:
Don’t freak out.
Granted the best time to freak out is when money is not coming in and bills continually are. However, stay calm – relax. Throughout my entire two-month financial ordeal, I was slightly more stressed than I normally am. That’s pretty natural. However, I had to keep telling myself that it would all work out, that it had always worked out, and would continue to do so this time. In a weird twist of fate, an old job of mine owed me almost $1,000 and sent me a check which helped me to pay off my debt. Talk about lucky!
Rather than freak out, spiral into depression, just remember – it’s going to be okay and this soon shall pass.
Cut back on “fun money” spending.
When times are hard, the first thing you have to do is cut back on your fun money spending – this is any purchases that you don’t necessarily need like eating out, clothes, makeup, new shoes, road trips, etc. During my two-month financial ordeal, I found myself having to turn down my friends’ offers for eating out on a regular basis. And if I did go out at night, it was always to a bar with free entrance and a few times I only had water rather than buy a drink. I think I bought one outfit under $15, no new makeup, and tried to ration out my supplies at home.
Just because you don’t have money to spend on eating out or new shoes, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun during this time. Invite friends over for Netflix binge-watching! Wine is $3 at Wal-Mart – have everyone chip in if you’re struggling that much. Or find free local events or free museum admissions. Rent a library book versus buying one and ask your friend if you can chill by their pool. Get creative – you can do it!
Re-asses your bills.
Often when I’m struggling with my finances, I look at my bills. What can I get rid of and/or change to minimize by bills? Do you really need TV? Why not just use your laptop and connect it to the TV? Can you get a better Internet or electricity rate? Can you wash only once a week versus two? Rather than buy organic that month, buy nonorganic. It won’t kill you for just one month. Is that gym membership worth it or can you work outside or find free fitness classes? It’s never fun to reassess your bills, but it’s less fun to fill like you’re pinching pennies.
Ask your friends to chill out.
I have a diverse group of friends here in Dallas and during my financial crisis they were constantly bombarding me with requests to go out, get a drink, go to some concert or another. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate it! And would have loved to do all those things. Eventually, I had to tell them, “I have no money for that.” Granted, a few continued to ask, but I had to be strong and though they may have felt like I didn’t want to hang out (and sometimes I didn’t – a girl needs solo chill out time too lol), for the most part, I knew I could not afford to go out and about with them.
Don’t be afraid to tell your friends that you really don’t have funds to go out. If they’re a good friend, they will totally understand.
Look for side jobs and side money.
If things get super bad, look for side jobs to help make up the funds. I was constantly applying to jobs with real clients and those that were temporary, anything that could possibly provide me with the funds that I needed to get back to my original lifestyle. In another twist of fate, one of my clients finally allowed me to take on extra work which brought me back to my original income bracket. Thank goodness!
Still it doesn’t hurt to be prepared to do extra work that might help pay the bills. Uber? Lyft? Lawn mowing? Selling clothes or furniture? Once again, be prepared to do what you got to do.
I’m the Queen of Impatience, so it’s ironic that I’m telling you to be patient. But trust me, just be patient. Money struggles – whether they are a month or a year – will always pass, as long as you are working on changing your situation. If you lose a job, look for another. If your spending habits get away from you, pull them back and get to work on making a change.
Be patient with yourself and the situation. It will all get better, I promise.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/frankieleon