What to do when rock bottom isn’t very far away.

6 04 2009

So many people that I know are under some sort of financial stress these days.  From people that have outright lost there jobs to those that have had to take furloughs and lost their overtime.  It is unbelievable to me how many people have ended up in a situation where paying the bills from one month to the next is a struggle if not completely impossible.

I was in that same position several years ago.  Unemployed then under-employed.  I played what I called Russian Roulette with the bills each month.  It was hard.  When I signed up for unemployment I quickly discovered that what I would be paid wouldn’t even cover the FIRST mortgage payment on the house.  Not to mention the second.  And that was before food, clothing, fuel and other essentials were even factored in.
So for anyone that thinks I haven’t been there, I have.  I know exactly what it is like to lie awake in bed night after night after night literally wondering how I would feed the children.

The stress of that can be unfreakingbelievable.  I’ve been there.  I know.

Having been there I have a few suggestions for getting through when money is tight.  I’m not a financial expert but some of these things worked for me.  You all have to weigh the pros and cons of what I offer here for yourself.

  1. Call your mortgage lender.  Right now they do not want another foreclosed house so I’m willing to bet they are going to be much more willing to work with you then they used to be.  Make them get your payment to where you need it to be.  You have more power to influence this than you probably think you do.  Figure out what you can afford to pay each month and negotiate with them to pay that amount.
  2. If there is ANY chance you could sell your home and break even consider it.  Especially if you think it is realistic that you could find something for less money.  Putting your house on the market costs NOTHING.  Getting a Realtor to come out and assess what they would try selling it for costs NOTHING.  So by exploring this you have NOTHING to lose.
  3. If you have a car payment and can’t get to work (or job interviews) without a vehicle call and negotiate a freeze on your loan or lower payments.  Again, figure out what you can afford to spend and negotiate to that amount.  Lenders do not want to be taking cars back, they lose money when they do that so it is in their best interest to work with you.
  4. Stop investing in your 401k.   That’s right, you heard me, STOP IT NOW.  You cannot afford to be investing for your retirement if you cannot figure out how to survive now.   Put that little bit of extra money into your pocket and pay your mortgage.  Investing for a  big fat retirement seems silly if you are going to be homeless in 60 days.
  5. Shop for better insurance prices.  Home, auto, medical and dental.  When you signed up for medical at your office you may have been living high on the hog and signed up for the best policy they offered.  Most companies have different plans at different out-of-pocket levels.   Buy the cheapest plan you can afford to buy.
  6. Make sure you pay enough monthly state and federal taxes out of your paycheck that you don’t end up with an IRS bill on April 15th.  It’s too late to do anything about the current tax season but be prepared for the next.   The last thing you need is to find out that you owe the IRS on top of everything else.
  7. Find a neighbor that wants to share trash services.  I don’t know about you but the $50 I spend on trash and recycling seems a bit silly since I don’t fill my bins each week.  You could cut this bill in half by sharing the service with a neighbor.
  8. Join Mint.com.  It is free and if you use it you will see EXACTLY where you are spending your money.  It is eye opening to say the least.  Mint can also offer you suggestions on where you might save some money or make some money thanks to getting higher interest rates using other banks.
  9. Find a job selling pull-tabs, pumping gas or waiting tables.  It doesn’t really matter WHAT you do but if you are unemployed or under-employed every little bit helps.  And sometimes getting out of the house is just what the sanity doctor ordered.
  10. Do NOT NOT NOT be taken by debt relief or other financial/investment scams.  If you are unsure if something is a good bet send me an email.  I can usually determine rather quickly if something is a scam or just a bad idea.

What would you add to the list?

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3 responses

6 04 2009
creechman

Do I need to change your link on Blogrolling? Don’t know where this excellent piece is coming from.

6 04 2009
Paul Smith

Excellent advice lady. Especially # 10 most debt releif offer are very destructive to credit ratings.

16 04 2009
tracy

Thanks for the info. of mint.com. I’ll check this out for sure 🙂

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