So you are unemployed and for the first time in a long time you’re living pay check to pay check. The difference might be this time you have a lot more responsibility and monthly debt to manage and now you’re freaking out. Sound familiar? It’s a common scenario many people face as they try to find their place in the current economy.
My business partner expressed this same lament to me recently after receiving her monthly bills for the first time after leaving a full time position to build our business. She had to have surgery and the medical bills, as well as monthly expenses were about to overwhelm her as she wondered when the next check was going to credit to her account and if she would have enough money left over after making all of her payments to make it to the grocery store.
“How do you do it?” She asked and I’ll tell you the same thing I told her; just keep in mind I am not a financial expert, I’m just an expert at living month to month and making it work.
Here’s how to break down the bills:
- Make it Manual – Stop all the auto-drafts on your accounts. You don’t get paid on a regular schedule anymore so your bill probably won’t either. Late fees are a lot cheaper than overdrafts.
- Pay Your Rent – If you can pay it in full that’s best but either way make sure it’s on time.
- Care about the Car – Keep current on car payments and insurance. A big part of being a good employee is being able to get to work. Slim down on your policy to help on the monthly payments.
- Keep the Utilities On – Electric, water and gas are your next most important expenses. Check with the Department of Social Services if you qualify for emergency assistance to get you through a particularly tight month.
- Stay Connected – Cancel your cable especially if you can’t afford it but make sure to keep your phone and or internet on so you can keep searching for new opportunities.
- Call the Doctor – Medical bills can wait so just let them know the situation and that you won’t be making a payment this month. Don’t stress the delay or you’ll be back for even more bills.
- Crush your Credit – It sucks but sometimes caloric intake is more important than credit scores. Pay a little bit on all of your cards and promise to catch up later so you don’t have to starve yourself.
- Stay a Student – Defer student loans by being enrolled in school. Some new classes might be what you need to boost your resume or make the connection that will lead to your next opportunity.
- Do the Dirty – Start hauling your own trash to the dump and skip the sanitation fee.
- Lapse on Lessons – YouTube tutorials and work out to tapes instead of spending monthly money to pay an instructor.
It might not work for everyone but it works for me… so far. Keeping things in perspective is what’s most important. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. Try to pay everyone a little something and find a way to prioritize that works best for you.
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