I frequently work with busy Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney David M. Offen, and these tips are among the information he imparts when he counsels his clients who have financial difficulty.
1. Learn to Live Within Your Means
This is the first tip for a reason. “Living within your means” means having enough income to pay for the necessities, save, and have a little extra for fun.
If you are relying on credit cards or payday loans to make ends meet… then either your expenses are too high or your earnings are too low. There are ways to improve both.
2. Save Where You Can
Here are some common areas of waste that we can all tighten up on:
- Take shorter showers
- When the heat is on, turn the temperature down a bit
- When the AC is on, turn the temperature up a bit
- Turn off lights when leaving a room
- Use coupons
- Buy on sale
- Buy local, seasonal food (it’s better for you too!)
- Combine trips to save on gas/diesel
- Use a credit card that gives something back (cash, points, airline miles, etc)
3. Maximize Earning
If you are in a job that offers overtime, take some occasionally if offered – I’m not advocating for working yourself ragged, but a few extra hours means a few “extra” bucks and that can make the difference between feeling comfortable and pinching pennies.
If you haven’t gotten a raise in a while and feel you deserve one, ask! If you don’t ask, you don’t receive!
If you are underemployed, there are ways to supplement your income in today’s “gig” economy. There are many part-time work-from-home opportunities (google it, check local craigslist) that you can take advantage of if you have a few hours a week and a computer. A neighbor might need a dog walked or a young child watched for a few hours a week. If you have a car, there’s Uber or Lyft. If you have the space, there’s Air B-n-B.
Many employers offer part-time seasonal or holiday jobs that you might explore – if you don’t like it, it ends and you don’t have to do it again! But in the meantime, you tried something new and made some extra money.
4. Pay Down Debt and Save
It is crucial that you pay off your credit card debt. Because of the high-interest rate applied to the balance, if not paid off every month, credit card debt is by far the most expensive debt you can have.
If you have multiple credit cards, start by paying the minimum on all but the card with the highest interest rate – pay as much as you can toward that. When that is paid off, do the same with the card with the next highest interest rate, and so on. While this process might take years, it will get the job done.
If you find you simply cannot afford to live AND pay off debt, you might contact a local debt settlement attorney for advice. Your initial consultations are usually free of charge and no-obligation.
Let’s say you were successful in paying off your credit cards… now take the funds that you’ve been using to pay credit cards each month and put that aside in savings. You won’t miss that money, and, you’ll feel a whole lot better “paying yourself” than paying those credit card companies!
Once you’ve saved up six months’ worth of income in an emergency fund, start another fund, this time for retirement.
5. Don’t Starve Yourself, Financially!
You are working hard to make money, spend wisely, pay down debt, and save. Treat yourself occasionally – even splurging on a movie night or going bowling can feel great when once you thought you could not afford it.
I think most of us have been on some form of extreme diet where we deprive ourselves to the point where we break down and cheat or binge on some forbidden food. The same thing will happen financially if you fail to treat yourself occasionally.
I hope these tips were helpful!
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a legal assistant and blogger living and working in the great city of Philadelphia.