We’ve all been financially broke at one point or another. Whether we want to admit it or not, occasionally life happens, emergencies occur, and resources diminish. As much control as we may think we have, the truth is there are always uncertainties. People lose jobs, businesses go bankrupt, hours at work drop. When these things happen to you, it can feel immobilizing. But there are a few ways you can respond to help relieve some pressure and progress in your journey little by little.
Here are the best steps to take when you are broke!
Step 1: Evaluate The True Issue.
Before you keep scrolling, don’t skip this step! It is imperative that you evaluate the reason you are broke, or you’ll never find a solution. Many people think the answer to this question is “I don’t have enough money.” To speak plainly, that is never the true problem. Evaluate if your problem is with income, or is it with spending. Are you broke because you have a shopping addiction or have a hard time saying ‘no’ to social gatherings? Or are you broke because you aren’t making enough income?
If the problem lies within your spending habits:
Stop what you are doing right now, and make a list of accountability partners. Call someone you feel safe being completely open with – someone you are willing to go over bank statements with each month. If you are married, this person should be your spouse and perhaps an additional mentor. If you are single, your parents, or other authority figures may be your best option. The good news is – spending problems are easy to fix, if you are willing!
If your problem lies within your income:
It is time to seek additional guidance from a trusted figure in your life. Are you being under-compensated at your current job? Are you in a period of unemployment? Maybe you’ve hit a slow season at work and your hours have dropped. Each of these things are understandable problems to have. If the issue is being underpaid, set aside a time to work on your resume and submit applications elsewhere. You may also find it beneficial to sit and speak with your employer to negotiate a raise. If you are unemployed or your hours have dropped – it’s probably time to get a second job. Second jobs don’t have to be permanent, you can seek seasonal employment to get you through a slow season if necessary.
Step 2: Stop paying full price for everything!
A lot of people pay full price for items like groceries and toiletries – mostly to avoid inconvenience. I get it, I loathe making multiple stops at multiple stores. However, there are many great tools at your disposal to make it easier. One of my favorite resources is a website called Southern Savers. It is a collection of weekly circulars from grocery stores and pharmacies. Using the lists there that are updated weekly, I always know where to get discounts and on what. I organize my weekly shopping list by store, and try to start with the furthest store first, then work my way home. It’s a great idea to keep cooler bags in your car to keep produce, meat, and dairy all fresh!
Step 3: Get cash back on groceries!
I am not really great at couponing. Toiletries are one thing, but groceries are a different beast for me. As you know from previous posts, my family places high priority on healthy eating. We try not to spend much on processed foods. Instead we opt for fresh produce, organic whenever possible, and healthy proteins. It is hard to find coupons on items like this. However, with Ibotta, you can still get cash rebates!
Just yesterday, I went to the store and spent $32 on lots of fresh fruits, organic yogurts, non-dairy milk, hummus, pita, and a flavored Kombucha I was craving. At the end of my trip, I scanned my receipt into the Ibotta app and instantly earned $15.23 I could transfer to my bank through PayPal! Ibotta is runs bonus promotions monthly for additional cash back. Many of the rebates they offer are cash back on “any brand diaper”, “any brand strawberries”, or “any brand non-dairy milk”. Meaning, I don’t have to compromise my health buying processed foods with traditional couponing! So yesterday, I got $32 worth of healthy groceries for my family, for only $16.77!
Step 4: Find viable ways to increase your income from home!
If you already identified that your issue is not enough income. Hopefully you have already started thinking about extra jobs you can take on to help bridge the gap. It is important that you also think long term. I don’t believe any millennial should be without their own business. It has been proven time and again that the only way to achieve financial independence is by owning your own business. I would strongly encourage you to do just that.
I was never good at MLM’s at all. But they are a viable income source for countless people! I would encourage you to also look at your own skill set and see what you may be able to build as well. My husband is an expert in kitchen and bathroom renovations. So, it was a no brainer for him to start his own tiling business that eventually led to a home renovation business! My brother in law is the most detailed perfectionist I’ve ever met, and has a gift for detailing cars from family vehicles to sports cars with unpronounceable names. His business is mobile auto-detailing! Both of these businesses are paving the way to financial freedom. Both of them have begun as side-hustles fit in around a full time work schedule!
I would also be remiss if I failed to mention blogging as a viable home business income. It is more than possible to make anything from “a little bit extra” up to 6 and 7 figure incomes, just by sharing what you love! The Cultured Home Economist is still in it’s infancy but began earning an income it’s first month, and hasn’t failed to earn since then. Our attainable goal is to replace all other income sources by the end of 2019! For more information on how to start your own blog, check out my Before You Start Your Blog post.
Step 5: Scope out your home for items you can sell!
Facebook groups, craigslist and Ebay are gold mines for people who are surrounded by too much “stuff”. It is far easier, and more lucrative than hosting a yard sale. It is important to take high quality, well-lit pictures, and post detailed descriptions. If you are facing an immediate financial hardship, just focusing on this alone will give you breathing room. Keep in mind that when doing this, reputation is everything. So, if you sell an item on Ebay, be prompt and courteous. Don’t wait endlessly to mail it out. If you are meeting someone in person from a swap group, be on time, and meet in a safe public location. I’ve actually heard of some police stations offering pick up locations in their parking lot for safety!
Whatever you do, don’t be too proud to explore this option! Some people seem to relate to this as though they are smuggling stolen goods into a pawn shop to sell. It is not the same thing, my friends. People from all walks of life are selling items they can’t use on Facebook. It’s the first place I go for furniture and baby items, personally! I have also sold many old cell phones using Facebook!
Step 6: Learn to negotiate, haggle, and barter!
Bartering has begun to increase in popularity once again. I am really excited to see how this old “new” trend plays out in 2019. Many cities have dedicated bartering groups on Facebook. I have seen people barter for custom made clothing, home repairs, etc… Rumor has it there is a reputable dental office in Birmingham that will even barter! Think about what skills you have, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Almost anyone can offer a few hours of babysitting, or house cleaning to get what they are looking for!
If you can’t barter your way to a great deal, brush up on negotiation skills! You can call credit card companies to negotiate a lower interest rate. Call cell phone, TV, and Internet companies to negotiate a lower bill. You can even negotiate lower prices on large appliances, and home repairs. One of the best negotiation tools at your disposal is paying in cash. Credit and debit cards always charge a small fee to retailers, but not cash! Many companies are happy to pass on discounts to customers who pay them in cash. I used to think it was rude to negotiate pricing, but now seeing my husband at work renovating homes. I have learned that people that ask for discounts – usually get them!
If you are going through a hard season financially, please remember that seasons change and it won’t always be this way. Money stresses are a leading cause of suicide, and divorce. Neither of these options will resolve financial problems (except in cases spousal abuse and control – in which case you should leave!) Don’t lose hope, things may be worse than they have ever been but they will not stay that way. Lean into the people around you, speak openly with leaders in your church, and build a list of local charities you can contact. Many may have options to help you!