What can a family do if they’re struggling to make ends meet each month? School uniforms, back taxes, rent – the bills just keep piling up? We’ve got 18 things you can do starting today.
Our Bills are Past Due!
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With grocery, utilities and public transportation prices climbing, our family is struggling to survive. We have a large family and do grow a small garden, but the bills keep piling up.
- We’re behind on our rent and income taxes.
- Our kids attend a charter school that requires uniforms which we can’t afford.
- We don’t have credit cards or a car and never take vacations.
What can we do to survive? We feel so hopeless!
Things You Can Do To Survive on a Small Income:
The economy is affecting everyone. We know that is no consolation to you when you’re struggling. But there are a number of creative things you can do to bring in more income and reduce your spending, all with the focus of generating extra income so you can start building savings.
There’s Always Hope When Money is Tight
We’ve got to remember that there are always solutions and options even when money is tight and life seems hopeless. You have a family and your family can pull together to find creative solutions to survive and thrive.
One key is that you’ve got to have a system for managing your income. We call it a spending plan or a budget system. Operating without a plan is like trying to drive to a vacation destination without a speedometer or a map – you’ll get somewhere, but probably not where you intended.
How to Spend Less & Earn More
First, find a way to spend less than you earn. Every month.
- Can your husband find a higher paying job?
- Is there a retail arbitrage hustle or other side-hustle that you or you and your kids could do from home?
- Do you need to look into less expensive housing in a different part of town?
- Could you be an apartment manager for a small apartment complex or be a caretaker of a larger property in exchange for free or reduced rent?
- Are any of your kids old enough to work part-time and contribute some of what they earn to the family?
- Does the school have a uniform exchange with reduced priced clothing?
- Is there a thrift store nearby where other families may have donated their used uniforms?
- Contact your utility providers and see if they have a low-income rate reduction program.
- Make sure that you aren’t having too much withholding done on your paycheck – getting a big tax return is nice, but having the money to spend and save each money is better.
- Try Trim – Financial Assistant. This is a Free app that will help you find ways to reduce your monthly bills. The app searches out monthly, bi-annual or annual charges that you may no longer need or want. They help you get them canceled, saving you money.
Get Help with your Financial Situation
There are other things you can do right now do to improve your situation. They may hurt your pride a bit, but in the long run, they will help you get back on your feet.
Try these 8 ideas:
Contact a food bank in your area and get some food for your family. Many food banks require income and residence verification, others limit the number of times you can come each month. But getting help with your food bill can help you generate an excess.
2) Department of Economic Security
Call the Arizona Department of Economic Security and start the process to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps.) The number is 602-542-9935 in the Phoenix metro area; 800-352-8401 in the rest of the state. Other states have similar programs.
3) Church Benevolence
If you are part of a church or religious group, ask help from the leadership. Many churches have benevolence funds, some will give you grocery gift cards or gas cards – every little bit will help you get back on your feet. Some churches also provide free financial coaching – having someone walk through this financial valley with you can really provide help and guidance.
4) United Way
Contact the United Way and ask them to connect you to agencies that can help.
5) Be Proactive with the IRS
Contact the IRS now and start communicating with them about your back taxes. The more you delay, the worse it will get.
6) Get Scholarships
Ask your school if they can scholarship uniform costs. Or ask if you could help in the office, on the maintenance crew or in the kitchen to offset the cost of the uniforms.
7) Monitor your Credit Report for Free
Credit Sesame is a free service that will give you a copy of your credit report anytime you want. You just need to sign up through their website. They do have other credit and id theft service that you can pay for, but the credit report is free. AND you don’t need to give them a credit card when you sign up – it’s risk-free!
8) Find an Advocate
Money Management International (MMI) is a non-profit. They are located in most major cities. If you have a job, MMI can negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. They charge an average of $20 per month for their services. In many cases, they can get the interest waived and payments reduced.
You may feel beaten down, but you don’t have to be a victim.
Do one thing today, follow through and then do another thing in a couple of days.
- Get your Budget set up and operational.
- Start making phone calls to reduce your monthly expenses
- Get an Advocate to walk with you.
- Get the Trim App and see how much they can save you.
Little by little you’ll climb this mountain. You won’t have to live this way forever. As you learn new money management skills and increase your household income you’ll be able to do more and feel less hopeless.
As long as your family is together, you’ve got each other and you’ve got hope.
We’re cheering for you.