No matter your circumstances, you should never accept going through hard financial times as a permanent situation for you.
You may feel like you are stuck playing a horrible game of debt catch-up right now, but with some slow and steady changes and focus you can and you will eventually turn things around.
Here are five steps to start getting your finances back in order:
1. Avoid Credit Cards and High-Interest Loans
If you feel like you are in a debt cycle now, be grateful you haven’t made the mistake of accepting a credit card offer from a big bank or loan provider. While it may help supplement your income on day one, their steep, unrelenting interest rates will end up costing you long term. Then there are the potential hidden fees if and when you need extra time on a repayment.
If asking a loved one isn’t possible, the next affordable options are low-interest money loans from community-focused lenders. You’ll find them to be more transparent as these loans are for fixed, small amounts to help you cover the cost of living expenses like medical fees, education expenses, and transport.
2. Consolidate Your Debt
While many people pay off their debt quietly and uncomfortably over long periods of time, it may be in your best interest to have a chat with a government-accredited counseling service about debt consolidation options.
In some cases, consolidating debts into one type of loan can end up lowering the total costs for you. This might involve putting your house up for collateral if it is a home equity loan, so always make sure that you are aware of any risks involved.
3. Get Free Financial Counseling
It’s not just business owners and the wealthy who have financial counselors helping them set their budgets. In fact, government-accredited community services mean that financial help can be available to anyone.
Credit counseling is a great way to talk your situation over with an expert and come up with a personalized and practical plan of action. Take a look at credit counseling services in your area that are accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA). They are often low-cost or even free for those in need.
4. Review Your Spending
Everyone thinks they know where their money is going until they look back on their bank statements.
It’s almost guaranteed that there will be surprises and charges you don’t recall. Common culprits can include interest rates or fees on bank accounts you never noticed, unused subscription services and overspending.
By making a monthly or biweekly spending review part of your finance routine, you avoid these sometimes-small expenses from building up.
5. Renegotiate Your Bills
Bills are generally the largest, necessary expenses in anyone’s budget, but what too many people overlook is bills that can be negotiated. Think about it. Competitive companies like your utility, cable, insurance providers and anyone who receives ongoing payments from you would rather keep you as a long-term customer for a few dollars less than lose you.
Use this to your advantage and call to check in with all your billers about whether your rates can be lowered. It can help to do some research on their competitors and quote the cheapest price you see in the hopes they’d be able to beat or match it.
All these tips require is your time and a bit of patience. So why not start today and set yourself up for a secure financial status?