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How to Get Through Tough Financial Times

Money doesn’t come easy.  Unfortunately we can’t just go and pick it off a tree in the backyard.  Money comes to those who work hard – or get lucky.  However the get lucky part only comes to a very select few so let’s stick with money comes to those who work hard.

Sometimes we can do everything right and the money just doesn’t work out.  One bad decision such as an investment or not so great spending habit can have a devastating snowball effect on our finances.  I once loaned a family member money and when they didn’t pay me back as planned I got behind on all my other bills – including my rent.

When you’re in tough financial times it can seem like you’re never going to get out of them, but trust me you will.  I’ve been broke and I didn’t think I would get through it, but I did.  There were a lot of tears and even more sleepless nights, but I knew it was temporary as I worked towards my goal of paying off all my credit cards.

The only way to get through tough financial times is to change your habits.  If you want to get out of debt sooner than later follow these easy (yes they’re not that bad) tips to help you get there:

Cut your living expenses

This is the first change I made after I lost my income during the market crash.  BF and I moved to a cheaper apartment which was inconvenient and small, but we saved $400 a month by doing so.

Cancel your cable

Cable packages are the bane of my existence and honestly you don’t need them.  Yes it’s nice to watch TV but with the internet you can get Netflix for under $10 a month.  I think we can all agree that’s much better than paying $130 (or more) for an all inclusive cable package.

Ditch your friends

This sounds terrible because when you’re going through a tough time you want your friends by your side.  However not if they’re trying to cheer you up by going out.  Dinner and a movie or a night out dancing can be expensive and if you’re experiencing financial struggles you probably don’t have $50 to spend on one night out with friends.  Stay in and put the savings towards your debt repayment.

Get help if you need it

The truth is sometimes we just can’t do it alone.  Talk to your financial advisor or a credit councillor if you need help setting up a plan to get back your financial wellbeing.   Talking to a bankruptcy councillor really helped me figure out my options and how to take the first step towards paying off my debt.

Find a second job

Sorry to say but more income may be the only solution to your problem.  Saving money on expenses can definitely help pay off your debt sooner and even start to rebuild your savings – but only if you put that extra money towards your goals.

Getting a second job can help speed up the process because it’s all money that you don’t need to live, so you can put it towards your debt.  Yes you’ll be tired, and yes it will be a lot of work but keep telling yourself it’s only temporary until you’re debt free.

 

How to Spend Valentine’s Day with Your Single Friends

Spend Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner love is in the air.  Your coupled friends may be planning what they’re going to do, what they’re going to wear and who they’re going to spend the most romantic day of the year with.  Their heads may be filled with boxes of chocolate, candlelit dinners and romantic evenings.  However if you’re single Valentine’s Day is a whole other story.

For some this day of cupids and candy is just a reminder that you’re alone.  You know what I say, THAT’S O.K.  Spending Valentine’s Day alone is better than spending it with someone you may not even like, let alone love.  You know what’s even better than that?  Spending Valentine’s Day having fun with your single friends.

If you and your friends are flying solo this February 14 here are 9 ways to have fun on Valentine’s Day:

Scary movie marathon

I’m not sure why but Valentine’s Day brings out the horror flicks, but this time of year there always seems to be one or two playing in theatres.  This year The Boy and The Forrest seem to be equally terrifying, although neither one has to do with love.

Weekend road trip

It’s inevitable that no matter where you go this weekend you’re bound to be surrounded by happy couples.  Could you think of a better time to take a weekend road trip with friends?  At least if you’re in a different city there’s no chance of running into any past lovers.

Watch the NBA All Star game

For all the sports fans out there the NBA All Star weekend is once again taking place at the same time as Valentine’s Day.  If you love sports then put on your fan gear, order some food and enjoy three days of basketball festivities.

Lots and lots of chocolate

They say that chocolate makes you feel happy so if you’re sad (or celebrating) because you’re alone this Valentine’s Day why not indulge in chocolate to make yourself feel better.  I can’t think of a better time to splurge on some sweet treats than right now.

Stay off the internet

The one thing you should absolutely not do on Valentine’s Day is surf the internet.  You’ll end up spending money and buying things you don’t need to just to pass the time and that’s not good for your bottom line.  Or worse, you’ll end up on a random dating site looking for Mr. (or Mrs.) Right.  Or even worse, you’ll stalk your ex on Instagram or Facebook.  Just say no.

Cry at romantic movies

If you are in fact sad this Valentine’s Day then let yourself be sad.  I’ve learned that it’s not good to keep feelings inside.  So let them out at home on your couch with your favorite romantic movies.  Titanic, You’ve Got Mail and Burlesque are some of my faves.

Dance the night away

What could be more fun than getting all dressed up and going out dancing with your friends.  Dancing is a great way to relieve stress, burn some calories and have fun at the same time.  Thankfully Valentine’s Day is actually on Sunday this year so hopefully clubs won’t be crowded with lovebirds all up in your space.

Stay in with cocktails

Have you ever wanted to be a bartender?  Now’s the perfect time to get your drink on.  Plan a night in with your friends, mix some drinks, listen to good music and make it a sleepover to ensure everyone stays safe.  It’s also nice to have someone (i.e. your friends) to wake up with in the morning and have breakfast.

Manicures and pedicures

Spoil yourself with a beauty day at the spa.  Feeling good about yourself is a must, so go and get all dolled up with a manicure and pedicure.  This is especially a nice treat if you don’t spoil yourself often.  Dip into your fun money on Valentine’s Day and enjoy it.

How are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day?

Photo from Pixabay

4 Financial Habits That Can Harm Your Relationship

It’s been said that money can harm your relationship.  I honestly believe that’s true, but only if you let it.  BF and I have lived through a financial rollercoaster: we met as broke teenagers, graduated into two full time jobs, almost lost everything (including my job) during the market crash and spent years rebuilding our life, relationship and our financial wellbeing.

I know that everything we’ve been through made me the strong, financially responsible person I am today.  So I have no regrets.  However, I wouldn’t want to go through it again.  I especially wouldn’t want to go through it with a new relationship.  BF and I already had several years invested in our relationship when the money troubles started and we chose not to let our financial struggles ruin our relationship – and neither should you.

Don’t let these money struggles put a strain on your relationship, all you need to do is work through them.

Too much debt

Having debt can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to put a huge strain on your relationship.  The one thing people seem to forget is that is temporary.

Do what you need to do to start making payments and become debt free, that could be getting a second job or cutting your living expenses. Do whatever it takes, trust me the temporary hard work is better than the long term stress of having debt.

Wedding blues

The last thing you want to do is start your happily ever after with a lot of debt from a wedding that you can’t afford.  Do you really want to start your life as a couple by coming home every night to “We should have just ordered the chicken” or “Couldn’t we have purchased less flowers”?  I don’t think so.

Plan a realistic wedding that you can afford.  This may mean prolonging the big day so you can save up some extra cash or cutting back on some lavish expenses such as making your own wedding invitations and centerpieces or choosing the second best venue.

Keeping money secrets

It’s no secret that when you don’t have open communication your relationship will suffer and this is especially true when it comes to money.  Don’t be mad at your spouse for not being open with you.  Ask yourself why it’s happening.  Why aren’t they comfortable talking to you about money?  Maybe it’s because they’re ashamed, but maybe it’s because you’re a little scary when it comes to having the money talk.

Ignoring your problems

The worst thing you can do in a relationship when it comes to money is ignoring that fact that there is a problem.  This is true whether you’re single or in a relationship.  Ignoring the problem isn’t helping fix it.

One of the great things about being married is you have a partner to rely on in sickness and in health and for richer or poorer. If you feel things are getting out of control with your spending and debt talk to your partner and ask for help.  The conversation may be uncomfortable, but it will be better for your relationship in the long run.

Photo from Pixabay

How to Get Over the Winter Blues

Sad dog

Does your money have the post-holiday blues?  If you’re money situation is a little bit sad in the New Year it’s time to take the steps to change your habits to get out of the funk.  January is a tough time of the year: it’s cold, it’s grey and we spend most of the time inside.

On top of that your credit cards may be maxed out or have high balances and your savings account may be drained.  There’s no time like the present to kick your financial habits into a new gear.

Get over the winter blues with these easy money tips:

Learn a new hobby that saves you money

The New Year is time for a new beginning.  Learning a new hobby is fun and it can save you money at the same time. If you spend a lot of money on eating out then take up a new hobby this year such as cooking.  Eating in even three times a week can help save money.  That extra cash in your pocket can be used to pay down debt or to start building up your savings account.

Check your credit score to see the damage

Even though your financial situation may not be ideal, it may not be as bad as you think.  Before you panic about your overspending during the holidays check your credit score to see if the damage is as bad as you think it is.  You can get your FREE Credit Score from Credit Sesame.  Once you know your exact financial state you can make a plan to start making it better.

Stop talking about it and start making payments

Holiday debt won’t get paid off until you start making payments.  So often we like to dwell on how unpleasant a situation is because that’s easier than actually doing the work to improve the financial mess.  Today is the day to stop talking about your less than perfect financial situation and start doing something about it.  Start making payments, like now.

Set up automatic payments

The only way I know to save and pay off debt is by setting up automatic payments.  If money is in my account I am most likely going to spend it.  So to avoid the temptation to spend money on things I don’t need I set up automatic payments that coincide with my pay.

Every two weeks I have automatic transfers that go into my short term and retirement savings as well as pay off my outstanding debts.  This way everything gets paid and saved on time and I don’t have to worry about it.

Start planning for next year

Avoid putting yourself through this same stress next year by planning ahead.  Instead of using credit and making payments to pay it off start saving now.  Putting $50 per month into savings over the next 10 months will add up to $500 for your holiday shopping.  That’s much better than paying off debt while it’s accumulating interest.

Planning ahead also helps you set a spending limit.  If you have $500 saved then you can only spend $500 during the holidays.  The option to spend with credit cards can be a big temptation.  Saving cash instead of using credit during the holidays can help keep your finances in order.

How do you plan for holiday shopping?

Photo from Pixabay