How to Survive Tough Financial Times

Whether you’re a victim of the federal government shutdown, a recent layoff or just too much debt, don’t despair. There are some simple steps you can take to help you survive these tough times:

Cut back

  • Review spending habits– This should be your first step. Put together a budget of what’s coming in and what’s going out. 
  • Go out less often– Chances are, once you review your spending habits, you’ll find areas where you can cut back – including going out to eat or to the movies. Try staying home for dinner and Netflix instead. 
  • Brew your own coffee– The average grande cup of coffee or specialty drinks at Starbucks start at about $4. Brew your coffee at home and/or work and you could save at least $100 annually per weekly cup of coffee. If you’re getting coffee out each work day, you could ultimately save over $500 a year if you just make it yourself.  
  • Save energy to save money– Turn down thermostat in the winter, up in the summer can you could save up to $100 per month. Also, turn off lights you don’t need and replace old bulbs for the new energy saving lightbulbs to save even more. 

Earn more

  • Try online content– There are sites like YouTube for videos, SoundCloud for music and Hubpages for writing articles. All offer revenue sharing if you share content. 
  • Think about freelancing/consulting– Chances are you’re an expert in something. Find ways to do some moonlighting by offering your expertise or expert services to earn some extra cash. 
  • Ask about a raise– This is a tricky one. If you’re due for a raise, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Nicely. If you’ve just had a raise, then ignore this tip!
  • Find a new job– We know, easier said than done. But if you’re not in your dream job (or even close), and know you’re being paid well under market value, then it may be time to shop around for a new job. Make sure you look at the whole job package, not just the salary, when interviewing. Sometimes the right benefits can help just as much as more pay. 

Shop Smarter

  • Plan your grocery shopping– Check out your grocery store’s specials and coupons before you go. Most of these are now available online to make life easier. Be sure to make a shopping list before you go – and stick to it. It’s those impulse buys that add up. 
  • Experiment shopping online for groceries and necessities– Online stores like Amazon and Thrive Market let you buy your everyday food and necessities often at a cheaper price than your local store. There are also online pet food stores like so you can save on your furry friends’ food as well. Compare prices before you buy, sometimes the prices are similar to your grocery store or warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. 
  • Think used– Stop by your neighborhood thrift or resale stores for great deals on used clothes, shoes and accessories. Or websites like Craigslist have pretty much anything else you might need from used sports equipment and furniture to appliances and kids’ stuff. 

Rethink Your Car

  • Find a job closer to home– Again, not always the easiest solution. But if you work an hour or more from home, you could save big on gas if you can have a shorter commute or even work from home if possible. 
  • Trade in that gas guzzler– We all love our big trucks and SUVs, but they’re murder on your wallet when it comes to gas. Most also come with hefty monthly payments as well. It might be time to trade it in for a more affordable, gas sipping vehicle.
  • Stick with regular grade gas– If you think higher octane gas is better for your vehicle, think again. Not only does higher grade gas cost more, it could be hurting your car. Most vehicles are designed to use regular gas. So, save dimes per gallon and hit the regular button at the pump. 

Negotiate Bills

  • Start negotiating– Usually a quick call to your cell phone, cable or Internet companies can save you hundreds. They often have specials or cheaper plans to help you save. You can always bump your plan/service back up again in the future. 
  • Call your creditors and credit union– Believe it or not, most creditors and definitely your credit union are willing to work with you when it comes to loan or credit card payments. The key is to call them and let them know what’s going on before the bills pile up! WWFCU even offers skip-a-paywhich lets you skip a loan or credit card payment. 
  • Reach out to the IRS– If you’re facing a tax bill from the IRS, keep in mind that they’ll work with you on installment payments till you get the bill paid off. 
  • Find financial counseling– There are experts out there who are dedicated to helping people like you manage their debt and budgets. This includes GreenPath Financial Wellness, a free service offered by WWFCU. They help with debt repayment, avoiding foreclosure/bankruptcy and much more. 

Stop Charging 

  • Put away your credit card– Paying for everything with your credit card may seem like a short-term solution, but you’ll be facing long-term debt till you pay it off. Take your cards out of your wallet so you’ll be less tempted to use them. 
  • Pay with cash – always– This is a good habit to get into. It helps remind you that if you don’t have the cash for something, you can’t afford it. If so, don’t buy it.  

If you’re facing tough financial times, let WWFCU know. With just a phone call, you might be able to get a loan extension or negotiate payments to take a little stress out of your life. Contact us at (734) 721-5700.

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