There goes the phone again. We both know who it is. They just won’t quit calling, and it is driving you up the wall. The fact that you owe them money does not mean that you have it to pay. And the frequency of their calls does not increase their chances of getting the money out of you. It’s a real mess. How you got here is almost irrelevant at this point. What’s needed now is a solution. You are not going to get a raise any time soon. Your rent is not going to decrease. And you still have to eat. Even a little more money at the end of the month would make a big difference and help you save. But where are you going to find it?
Before giving you a few suggestions, let’s take a moment to get very real. You might not pull through this unscathed. I know that is not what you want to hear. But the news is not all bad. If it turns out that there is no good way to manage your current debt load, bankruptcy might end up being your best solution. While that seems like the worst thing in the world, it is important to remember that bankruptcy really is intended to be a solution. And when done right, it most definitely is.
But bankruptcy has a lot of complexity and can be rather confusing. It is the kind of thing that you should not try to do alone. It is a legal process and should be done with the aid of an attorney that specializes in the process. DoanLaw.com recommends a consultation with a specialist, that way you will have a pretty good idea if one of the many chapters of bankruptcy is the right solution for you. But before making that call, let’s see if we can find you a few extra dollars to help make ends meet:
There is no need to start rationing how much your family can eat. The kids can still have their breakfast cereal, and you can still have your yogurt. You can continue to have taco night (mmm… tacos…), replete with a sugary, bubbly, unhealthy beverage. We’re not going to mess with taco night.
What we are going to mess with is the brands you buy, and perhaps even where you buy them. When ABC 15 did a taste test and price comparison between name brands and generic brands, only a couple of name brands won. Of the nine items featured in the video, they saved $6 by going generic. If you are spending $200 or more per week on groceries. that can make a huge difference.
If impose control is a problem when you go shopping, there is still help. There are a number of discount grocery stores that feature generic brands with few name brands in sight. You will probably have to bag your own groceries, but everything is less expensive. Go nuts. Your grocery savings will make a big difference.
TV and Movies
Yes, you have to make some cuts on the non-essentials. But let’s be reasonable. Even I wouldn’t try to deprive you of all the Star Trek reruns you can watch in a lifetime. And movies are more than mindless entertainment. They are cultural touchstones. It is not possible to be fully plugged into society without at least a passing familiarity with the classics, like, you know, Transformers 1 through 4.
Still, something has to give. The average cable bill per month is $128, $78 of which is television. The rest is for services like Internet and telephone. For about $20 per month, you can get a combination of Hulu and Netflix. That should cover the bulk of everything you like to watch on TV. It will even get you most of the movies you want to see, just as long as you wait until they have left the theater. There are ways to get streaming news online. Live sports is still a bit of an issue. But as with groceries, giving up just a little pays off huge in savings.
Take Public Transportation When Possible
Owning a vehicle is expensive. Gas, insurance, and parking can take the better part of a paycheck. Not all cities are blanketed with high-quality public transportation. But if you happen to live in a city like Portland, Oregon, Seattle Washington, or New York city, driving is a luxury that you can very likely live without. You will also find that you are not alone.
All of these small slices of savings are there for the taking. You don’t have to give up potato chips, TV shows, or travel. You just have to slightly alter the way you do it.
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