Financially Surviving vs. Thriving

Struggling to make it in an expensive world on a cheap budget?  Sure,  most of us are!

One of the struggles facing many single parents today is the feeling of "surviving" vs "thriving" and how to make enough money to support their children in this expensive culture.  Food, gasoline, rent, utilities, insurance, medical expenses, car expenses...etc are all very expensive and are difficult enough for a single adult to afford let alone when kids are added to the mix.  So how do you survive within a tight budget and expensive expectations?

Unfortunately, the answers aren't very easy and take a lot of work.  Emotions can go into what I like to call, "roller coaster mode" when you get into "survival" mode, rather than "thriving" mode.  We all wish to thrive and it's hard to struggle daily and feel like we aren't getting ahead of our financial situation.  Here are some tips to help ease the stress associated with figuring out how to rise above your financial situation.  I am not a financial guru by any stretch of the imagination, however these techniques I have found and use are something to consider if you are feeling the financial pressures.

1) Create a budget.  Know exactly where you are financially.  A first-step budget making process can be simple and non-threatening.  Simply make 6 columns.  At the top of each write: Date Bill Due, Description of Bill (Electric/Rent...etc), Amount Due, Amount Paid, Date Paid, How It was Paid (check, cash, money order...etc.)  Under your list, write 2 more columns and label them, Date Paid and Amount of Pay (for your paychecks, child support etc.)  Use this monthly and keep it as a reminder of when things are due.  It will open your eyes to how you spend your money if you see what is spent in bills and what is received in pay.

2) Pay off Credit Card Debt- Pay minimums on all cards but one and tackle it with a larger payment until paid off.  Pick another card and do the same. Start with your highest interest cards. 

3) Create a savings account.  Pay your tithe and then a percentage of your check to yourself first.  Then pay bills and other expenses.  Even if you can only pay yourself $5, do it consistently and don't touch it.

4) Maximize your employment benefits.  Employment benefits like a 401(k) plan, flexible spending accounts, medical and dental insurance, etc., are worth big bucks. Make sure you're maximizing yours and taking advantage of the ones that can save you money by reducing taxes or out-of-pocket expenses.

5) Get paid what you are worth and spend less than you earn. This includes receiving your child support or spousal support.  Get help from the state if the Obligor is not fulfilling his/her end of your court order.

6) Eat in rather than out more often.   The average American household spends almost half of its food budget on eating out — out of about $6,000 US Dollars (USD) spent on food a year, about $2,700 USD goes to eating out. Alcoholic beverages alone contribute almost $500 USD to that budget.  More than 75 percent of Americans eat out at least once a week, and a full fourth eat out every two to three days. Some studies suggest that, on average, Americans actually eat one out of every four meals and snacks outside of the home.  You can save a lot by packing a lunch and making dinner.

7) Drop those extra habits that are costing you money.  Do you like your coffee in the mornings? Invest in a coffee maker as you can save on average $1,100 per year! 

8) Coupon. Coupon. Coupon.  Need I say more?

9) Buy in bulk if you have the capacity to store it.

10) Most of all, be smart! If a purchase doesn't feel right...go with your gut!

More tips here.

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