Monetary stress is a common problem for people in the United States. In fact, 80% of Americans are trying to overcome debt. There are many articles and tutorials online that tell you that lowering your spending, lowering your bills, and paying close attention to your finances is all it takes to get out of debt.
However, those who suffer from debt know that your regular life’s needs and responsibilities don’t stop just because of a lack of money. Sometimes you still need to buy a vehicle, your bills can’t possibly be lowered, and things pop up that cause you to spend your savings. Life continues to happen.
That’s why we have curated this list of ways to navigate real life, while boosting your income, saving where you can, and finding a way to overcome the stress of debt and control finances.
1. Don’t Throw Out Junk – Sell It
Look around your home. Rifle through your drawers, the back of closets, or into the boxes in the garage that haven’t been opened in years. You may see a lot of junk that you’ve been avoiding taking to the dump; however, you may be surprised at how much you can get by selling these items.
Even things like scrap metal and old car parts are valuable to the right buyer. Here are a few ways you can flip your junk for cash to help control finances:
Sell Old Jewelry
The price for jewelry fluctuates over time, which can cause us to want to hold on to our pieces until the time is right. However, if you are in need of a financial boost, it may be a good idea to part with these items sooner rather than later.
The best seller is typically precious metals. What’s great about materials like silver and gold is that they are valuable even if the jewelry piece is not a good shape. This is because the metal can be smelted and recast into new jewelry.
If you want to sell broken gold jewelry, contact any local jewelers to see if they can offer you a fair deal. If you don’t have any locations within practical traveling distance, there are also fantastic businesses online that will send you a safe shipping envelope to transport your gold to them.
Usually, these companies will accept anything eight karat and above. If you don’t know the karat of your items, the businesses advise you to just send everything you’ve got, and they will assess the value for you.
Sell Crafting Scraps Online
If you enjoy crafting, you know that part of the hobbyist’s struggle is ending up with scrap pieces of materials and half-empty products that aren’t enough for a full project. Though you know you will never use the items, you just can’t bring yourself to throwing them out.
If you’ve got storage filled to the brim with fabric scraps, yarn, paint, and the like, you should check out craft resale communities online.
These can be found through most social media platforms and are curated specifically for individuals who want to buy partial, used, and scrap craft materials. They may want them to finish a project without spending a large amount of money or they may be seeking a specific item that is no longer available in stores. Either way, selling your scraps as bundled items or even individual pieces will often bring a lot of interest.
Payments can be made through PayPal or another online payment site to provide a convenient way for you to receive funds. It is also common to have the purchaser pay the shipping price, which makes it a perfect option for those who are struggling financially. Plus, it is always good to know that the items you cherish are helping you to control finances and not simply wasting away in a landfill.
Throw a Garage Sale
If the junk around your house is pretty random, you may want to throw a garage sale. Though most counties require a paid permit to throw a yard sale, they also typically schedule set days where anyone in town can sell on their property without a license.
Once you are licensed to sell, organize your items into categories and make sure that they are clean, dust-free, and clearly labeled with both item type and price. Also, recruit a few friends to make sure nobody is pocketing small items or walking off without paying.
Make some homemade signs that you can place around town leading to your home. Be sure to decorate them with keywords like furniture, toys, or whatever else you’re selling to pull in the best crowd for your sale. For instance, if you put “rings and watches” on your sign you’re likely to attract jewelry buyers, whereas if you list clothes and toys will attract parents with small children.
Garage sales can bring in large amounts of money if done well. Always ask for fair prices but also don’t let anybody low-ball you too aggressively. Especially if they are offering less than you could make through a pawn shop or antique store.
2. Approach Large Purchases with Skill
No matter how hard you try to control finances and spending; life will still create situations where large purchases are necessary. You may live in a town with poor public transit and simply need to buy a vehicle or maybe your washing machine is broken and there are no local laundromats. No matter the reason, there are three important factors to consider when making a large purchase.
If you are in the market to buy used cars you may find yourself prioritizing the cost over everything. Unfortunately, if that is the only detail you consider for the purchase you may end up with a vehicle that does not work for your family or that will end up breaking down quickly. That’s why it is important to find a vehicle that touches all three purchasing needs.
Reputable car lots offer the opportunity to purchase new and used trucks and cars that have been vetted for mechanical issues, collision damage, and more. These cars may be slightly more expensive than purchasing through an individual, but you are going to get more security in terms of durability and functionality.
These tips also work when buying large pieces of electrical equipment like stoves, refrigerators, and washing machines. Resale stores are a great place to find these items because they’re usually tested and cleaned before being put on the sales floor. If you have a local electronic rental location, ask if they’d be willing to sell you a used piece of their equipment that they’re retiring from circulation. This is also a tactic that can be used on furniture in name brand stores as they typically will sell their floor models at a deep discount.
3. Find Part-Time Work
If you are already working or are in school, the idea of boosting your income may feel impossible. However, many companies offer flexible part-time positions that may suit your needs. From part time surgical tech jobs that let you work early in the morning to delivery positions that let you work whenever you feel like it, there is no shortage of positions to fit your schedule.
You can even direct the money made from your part-time job directly into a savings account to help control finances. This may be one of the fastest ways to rebuild your stability.
4. Navigate Large Life Events Properly
Sometimes things happen in your life that you either can’t or don’t want to put off due to your struggle with debt. Luckily, there are ways to handle these moments and control finances simultaneously. Let’s take a look at a few common, expensive life events and see how to approach them.
From engagement rings to venues, there is nothing cheap about getting married. The wedding industry is built on hiking prices for anything remotely related to a marriage, which can destroy a savings account.
If you are set on getting engaged or married while struggling with debt, focus on the key aspects that matter to you. Do you need a big wedding with a large venue, or would you be okay with a backyard ceremony? Does your fiancé-to-be need a $2,000-dollar ring or is a family heirloom something she would like?
With a little finesse and compromise, it is possible to have a low-budget wedding that will bring you the same joyful memories as a large, expensive event.
Having a Child
Kids are expensive. Whether it is your first or fifth, the little buggers can rack up costs quickly. You may be seeking SUV financing to fit in the new family member, blowing hundreds on diapers and wipes, or trying to find a way to afford the 30-dollar cans of formula. It can be overwhelming, but there are a few things you can do to lower costs and control finances.
- Switch to Cloth Diapers: The cost of disposable diapers over two years of a baby’s life is between $2,000 and $3,000. While the upfront cost of cloth is higher, the two-year total, including utility costs, is about $800.
- Sign Up for Government Aid: The US federal government provides a program called WIC (women, infants, and children) that provides food cards to purchase items like formula, milk, cheese, and other basic necessities.
- Purchase Items from Resellers: Even the most minimal baby nursery requires a few pieces of furniture. Luckily, these items can regularly be found at thrift shops and resale stores. Just check to make sure an item hasn’t been damaged or part of a recall.
- Double Check Insurance Coverage: Do you have insurance coverage? Will it cover the cost of your delivery or is your hospital out of network? Will it cover an epidural or will you have to cough up a credit card in the moment? Get all these questions answered as soon as you can to avoid issues during delivery.
If you or a loved one find themselves in legal trouble, you may be wondering where you will get the funds to navigate the process.
If a loved one is arrested, there are a couple of things to do to make sure they are safe, and you are not financially ruined. First, focus on finding a bail bond company that will offer you a reasonable payment option without gouging rates or predatory practices.
Once they have been released from jail, you can focus on legal representation. Some people opt to try and represent themselves, but that can often lead to being steamrolled by a district attorney who can confuse you with legal jargon and fancy tactics.
Instead, you can try to find a local lawyer that is willing to work out a payment plan or even represent someone pro bono. If that isn’t an option, research federal programs that provide legal representation to low income families. This program can even find a drunk driving lawyer, which is typically not someone who will provide pro bono representation.
4. Consolidate Loans
Before overdue payments pile up, consider applying for a consolidation loan. This is a great way to control finances because it takes all your debts and combines them into a single debt with one monthly payment.
These loans can be issued through banks, credit unions, and online lenders, but you are more likely to be approved by an institution where you have a positive reputation. Also, be wary of online lenders who provide consolidation loans with astronomical fees and interest rates. These predatory rates do not help control finances.
5. Consider Filing Bankruptcy
The term “bankruptcy” has a bad reputation. However, this comes from a misunderstanding of bankruptcy law. Though it is true that filing bankruptcy damages your credit and stays on your credit for 10 years, it also can provide financial relief that you may not be able to work out on your own for the same period of time.
Though it doesn’t look fantastic to lenders, many are willing to work with somebody with a bankruptcy on their record. So, if you have found yourself in a position where you simply cannot afford to pay off debt, you shouldn’t be scared of bankruptcy as an option to control finances.