The current American standard when it comes to budgets and managing money is that most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. We never think about things to do before you pay bills, because we’re always trying to maneuver all the bills we have to pay. It’s a cycle that no one wants to deal with, yet most people are.
As a writer of a website that shares simple ways to improve your personal finances, this little fact hits very close to home. But, there are things that we must take care of, before tackling the debt bills. Here are tips from someone who’s been there — me.
Fill Your Fridge First
You can’t do anything when you’re hungry. Whether you’re one of those people that gets hangry (like me), or you can go without a few meals, we all need nourishment as human beings. You need the energy to pay those bills, make more money, and keep your house in order, so fill your fridge first. Our family has a $64 a week grocery budget.
You don’t need hundreds of dollars to eat, but you do need to make sure your fridge and pantry have items in them before you move on to that student loan bill. Use blog posts that show you how to grocery shop on a tight budget, and fill your fridge as much as you can.
Pay Your Utilities
Once food is covered, it’s time to make sure all of your utilities are current on payments. Electricity, heat and water are 3 things you just might need to eat and cook, right? Get current on those utilities, because they are just as needed as food. If you’re having trouble paying these items, contact the utility companies you use, and explain your situation.
Utility companies offer some version of a hardship program for customers who may have trouble making ends meet each month. Also, don’t be ashamed about calling. Like I mentioned earlier, this is something that most Americans are experiencing.
Take Care of Transportation
You can’t shop for food, or make money to pay those utilities, without transportation. See how these are all building up? Transportation may mean getting that extremely needed tune-up on your paid off car, renewing your bus or train pass, or catching up on your payments so your car doesn’t get repossessed.
This also includes car insurance, friends. Make sure you are covered if something happens to you while you’re driving. Whatever you need to do to make sure you have transportation to and from work for the next month, get it taken care of as soon as possible.
Update Your Basic Clothing
I love reminding people that they need to pay attention to their clothing, and that it IS one of the things that you need to take care of, before those credit card bills. Here’s the kicker: it’s the basic clothing items that you need to update.
Do the shoes you wear daily have holes in them? Get a new pair. If those jeans you have to wear to work don’t fit, aren’t comfortable enough for the job, or look tattered and torn, get a new pair. Need a new coat for winter because you’ve worn your current one to shreds? Get a new one!
Yes, you have permission to update the basic items in your wardrobe, because you need to wear clothes outside of your home. It’s kind of a law, friend. Update those worn out pieces, but don’t you dare give yourself permission to go on a shopping spree. That’s not what this is about.
Secure Your Shelter
Having a roof over your head is probably the most important of all of these items, so why did we put it last on the list? Because, whether you have a mortgage or you rent, it’s really difficult to find yourself without shelter. Most landlords and mortgage companies don’t want to put you out of your dwelling.
Some have a heart, and don’t want to put people out on the street, while others are thinking about the monetary disadvantage of removing you from your shelter. If they kick you out, that’s lost money and added paperwork for them. They’d rather find a way to keep you in your dwelling, then remove you. The latter is easier for them. Take advantage of that.
If you are behind on your mortgage or rent, let them know you need help. Landlords will find ways to help you get current, if you just let them know your situation.
There are lots of programs to help homeowners get current on their mortgages. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you can stay in your home for at least one more month. This will give you the mindset and motivation to find more money, or an extra side hustle, to make sure you get and stay current moving forward.
Once these 5 parts of your life are settled for the month, then you can tackle the other bills that need your attention.