How in the world can you get ahead, when your paycheck disappears into bills every month? The secret: somehow, some way you must find a way to change this.
"I can't," Inner Self protests. "We had unexpected company. I needed new shoes for that party at the boss's houses. The car battery died. Little Frieda got the flu -- and gave it to me."
You can listen to your IS -- and actually believe him/her.
Or you can do something about it.
*Something has to change. Whatever you've been doing, isn't working.
*Where is your current income going? You'll probably need three or four months of bills to get a better idea of this. How much are you spending on food, clothes, gasoline, rent and utilities?
*Are you paying interest on any of your bills? If so, how much?
*How much do you owe? (Take heart -- you're going to work on the debt, instead of ignoring it. Or trying to.)
*Is everyone in the house doing something to help out...or are you the one working, then coming home to household chores every night? (We women are notorious for this. Me included.)
Some ground rules to remember:
*You are not a stupid person. You're not in this position because you were (and are) too dumb to do anything about it. You can take positive action.
*This might hurt. Or it may not. You may find you don't miss [whatever] at all!
At the very least, change is going to feel strange -- different than whatever your usual is.
*This may well be temporary...until you get back on your feet, so to speak. Or it may actually be better, in the long run.
*You don't have to do this alone. Okay, sometimes you do. But usually there are others who can help out: your kids, partner, family members and friends. Sometimes they're the reason you've gotten yourself into this mess, to begin with. If so, they can help you get out.
*You can no longer spend more than you make. Even if only a few bucks clear every month, that's a positive step forward. (And I have ideas on how you can get more.)
*You can no longer pay interest, unless it's absolutely essential. (Transportation and home mortgage payments come to mind here. Maybe college loans... but maybe not. Everything else, generally, can wait.)
*If you are paying interest, you must find a way to pay less -- then eventually pay it off. (Bear with me. I'll have a lot of suggestions here, too.)
*Even tiny changes eventually make a difference. As Prudent Homemaker points out, "You may think something that only saves you 5 cents a day isn't worth doing. However, that one thing will save you $18.25 a year. If you find 20 tiny ways to save that each save you 5 cents a day, you've saved $365 a year."
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Tell your nagging Inner Self, "This is what responsible adults do. And I am."
Part II (Money) is here!
And so is Part III (Everyday expenses).
Part IV's up, as well. (Food)