Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times
In these challenging economic times, it’s important to evaluate your finances! There are many things that you can do on your own to help get your finances in order – here are some ideas:
Look at your spending
- If you don’t have a plan, make one! Personal spending plans can help you take control of your finances!
- Track your expenses for a month or until you get a good idea of where your money is going – this will make your starting point accurate
- Remember: The more specific you are, the better
Spending Plan Formula
- There are 4 parts to every budget: income, savings, debt repayments and living expenses
- For your plan to work, your income must be equal to what you put aside for savings, use for debt repayment and living expenses
- Income = Savings + Debt + Living Expenses
- If this doesn’t add up, look for ways to increase income (overtime, part-time job, change W-2 deductions) or reduce debt payments.
- Talk to creditors about new payment arrangements, pay down debt or consolidate payments.
- Look for ways to cut costs on things like cable, phone, eating out, clothing, entertainment, etc.
Live within your means
- Don’t spend more than you take home
- Don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off each month
- Evaluate your wants versus your needs
Spend only what is required
- Downsize, right-size and cut wasteful spending
- Search your house, attic, or garage for items that you don’t need/use and sell them. Then use the money to pay down debt or increase your savings
What to do with debt
- Don’t default on your payments
- Work with your creditors if you can’t make payments
- Don’t promise creditors what you can’t afford
- Get help from a reliable credit counseling agency
- Don’t take on new debt to pay existing debt payments
- If you are considering bankruptcy, seek help from a nonprofit credit counseling agency approved to pre-bankruptcy counseling. Approved agencies can be found at www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde.
- Pay Yourself First! Try to put money aside each pay period through payroll deduction or automatic transfer from checking to savings
- Build an emergency fund – just in case!
Individual Development Account (IDA) Programs
IDAs are matched savings accounts that enable low-income individuals and families to save and build assets. Locally, WWBIC’s IDA program with the Housing Authority of Milwaukee for certain Section 8 or public housing residents assists people to save for a home, college, or a small business. Call (414) 263-5450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Online Tools to Help you Plan & Save
BankRate.com: Research local, regional and national rates for mortgages, loans, credit and other financial needs.
Better Budgeting.org: Articles and tools for basic money management
Cost Helper.com: Find out what price others are paying for the things you buy our plan to.
Mint.com: Money manager tool that also teaches basic financial skills.
MyMoney.Gov: Helps consumers learn about ways to manage their personal finances. (1-800-FED-INFO)
PowerPay.org: Helps debtors become savers. Figure out how long it will take to pay down your debt.
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