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5 Tips to Overcome a Financial Crisis

5 Tips to Overcome a Financial Crisis

The fear of being hit with a miserable incident that could change your financial condition, like losing your job, impoverishment, or a sudden medical emergency, can be a nightmare for anyone. Such miserable events require you to make major changes in your life and the revitalization period is incredibly stressful. Often, it is the result of a lot of trifling constant worries building up to one huge breaking point, and then all of a sudden everything rushes through, constructing a tidal wave of anxiety and fear and stress.

However, your financial crisis can be remedied by regaining your self-control and taking solid actions. The financial benefits of dealing with financial crisis—saving more, paying down debt—will improve not just your self confidence, but your overall mood as well. The less you worry about dealing with finances issues, the more you can enjoy life. You may consider your circumstances as unique, but many people around the world have walked this path before you. The road to financial revival is shabby but the steps to return after the financial disaster are well-proven.

So let’s get started with some useful tips that will help you to get motivated to take control of your finances:

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1.  Identify the Problems

The first step to overcoming financial crisis is to identify the primary problem that is causing difficulties. Financial problems are generally an indication of a larger issue and to come up with long run solutions, you have to identify the actual cause of your financial troubles. The idea behind the importance of uncovering a specific problem is to come up with a permanent solution. Just like a leaky tap in your house; placing a bucket below it is a temporary solution. Fix the tap and the leak will stop permanently. Rather than dwelling on your stress, focus on resolving the problem that’s causing your financial problems.

2. Create a Budget

One of the best ways to deal with financial problems is creating a budget plan. A budget is a weekly, monthly or a yearly spending plan for your money that guides your spending decisions on important stuff for you. As you create your budget, it’s important to track your expenses for at least a couple of weeks (a month is best) to objectively see where and how much you are spending.

Once you are able to get realistic numbers from your budget, you can review your budget critically and seek out areas where you can save. Things like spending less on eating outside, spending less on entertainment or hobbies, taking lunch from home to work rather buying it are things that don’t make you miserly or restrict your budget. They just allow you to go after bigger things with less stress, like paying off your mortgage.

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3. Set Financial Priorities

Determining your financial priorities is essential to overcome any financial crisis. These priorities help you to make tough financial decisions such as paying off your credit card bill, paying your mortgage or saving up for house repairs for your family; setting priorities will help you solve your money troubles and get back on track. Your financial priorities should include looking into new ways to have money coming in too, like a second job, downsizing your home, or even using assets you have like a mortgage to leverage financial flexibility for yourself.

4. Address the Problem

For most people, financial problems can be addressed by reducing expenses and increasing income, or a little combination of both, but it might be not be the ideal option for everyone. For humans, changing lifestyle is the most difficult task, but given the money crisis situation, we are forced to make changes.

So to deal with it, take small steps to accomplish your goals because big changes are always much harder. For instance; if you’re running $50 short every month, then perhaps you should first pay off a small credit card debt that requires a $50 minimum payment each month. By taking small steps get the card paid off, and then permanently have $50 extra to use in your budget every month or use it for the payment of another debt, and get all of your debts paid off more quickly.

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This methodology is called the “snowball effect”; putting all extra money towards one debt to pay it off faster and then use the extra amount towards eliminating the next debt. It is very useful method for paying debts off faster.

5. Develop a Plan and Track Progress

Once you have ideas to tackle your financial difficulties, come up with a realistic plan to accomplish your financial goals with a timeline of weeks, months or years and track your progress continuously. For example, if your goal is to pay off a $2,000 debt, make a plan and create a timeline with the amount of money you will pay every month so that you can pay it off within your desired time frame. Once you are on the road to achieve it, take a few minutes to review the progress. Evaluate and assess your plan, see if you are making progress toward your goals and be open to the possibility of fine-tuning the plan.

Unforeseen financial challenges are like uninvited guests and can strike at the most unfortunate times. For example, recent findings show that 6 in 10 Canadians will face some major life events that will change their prior financial plans. The key to overcome these financial challenges is to be flexible. Make and review your budget and make necessary changes.

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Featured photo credit: Mitya Ku via flickr.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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