Even though the nation’s employment picture is improving, many Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet. Many people with full-time jobs make less money than they did before the recession began and may pay more for medical and other benefits. If you are in this position, you know that paying basic monthly bills is a challenge and it’s tougher than ever to cover unplanned expenses or think about saving money.
In previous blogs, I’ve discussed the importance of money management and creating a priority spending plan. In addition, people need to find ways to eliminate stress and identify resources that will help them achieve stability in their lives. It’s important to know where to buy food and medicine at lower costs, volunteer, join a ‘networking’ group or take up a hobby.
To create a priority spending plan, I advise people to take the following actions:
List your current income and expenses. If your expenses exceed your current income, you will have to adjust your spending plan.
Develop and follow a spending plan that eliminates all unnecessary expenses. These include cable television, newspaper delivery, upgraded cell phone plans, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions and dining at restaurants.
If expenses still exceed your income, contact your creditors and ask for the ‘hardship’ department. Explain your situation and ask if there are payment programs available to assist you. Often, creditors are willing to lower interest rates, fees and monthly payments in times of financial hardship.
Next, identify organizations where you can buy food and medicine at lower prices, as well as find ways to reduce child care costs. These include:
For child care assistance programs, visit http://www.childcare.gov or for information on help paying for childcare, contact Child Care Aware at www.childcareaware.org or call
For information and assistance in paying for medical care for you and your family, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human services at www.hhs.gov/children.
For prescription assistance contact the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org or call 888-477-2669
Next, you need to relieve stress by exercising, eating properly and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family members. Achieve these goals by volunteering or joining networking groups. You can also take advantage of various events, programs and resources in your community, at school or at your place of worship. Finally, consider taking up a hobby, including one that could turn into an additional source of income.
For free exercise programs, visit http://www.fitclick.com for free exercise plans, ideas and tips. For nutrition, www.nutrition.gov offers free meal planning and menus as well as nutritional tips and ideas. To volunteer, go to www.volunteermatch.org.
Finally, to enhance your financial education and skills, visit www.CredAbility.org/education to take advantage of a variety of free courses on demand to enhance your knowledge and financial capability.
Mechel Glass is the Director of Education for CredAbility. In this position, she is responsible for developing the curriculum and educational materials for online classes including webinars, podcasts, videos and listen-on-demand classes. She is responsible for managing the agency’s community outreach programs and staff, including financial education specialists in a 14-county area throughout metro Atlanta and north Georgia. She also manages the development and reporting of education partnerships online for the agency.
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