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Whether you’ve suffered a layoff or have been saddled with unexpected medical bills, money dilemmas can cause significant stress and even trigger physical symptoms of anxiety.
While these situations may initially seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that most financial difficulties can be improved by taking proactive steps to get things back on track.
Here are some recommended strategies to help you navigate choppy financial waters:
1. Separate facts from feelings.
In challenging times, setting aside your emotional concerns and only focusing on the facts can be difficult. While it can be challenging, practice putting your feelings up on a shelf and looking at the situation as though it were happening to a stranger. Identify the concrete facts of your circumstances and prioritize paying essential debts and expenses first before addressing nonessential bills.
2. Create a budget.
If you don’t have a budget, it will be tough to pinpoint where your money is going every month. The good news is that you don’t need to be a spreadsheet master to create a decent budget. If you’re unsure where to start, simply jot down your monthly expenses on paper. Start with the essentials — food, housing, transportation, etc. — and work your way down to the nonessentials, such as streaming services or other subscription costs. This will help you identify your priorities, and you may be surprised at how quickly your nonessential expenses add up.
3. Rethink your priorities.
Consider this challenging period as an opportunity to hit the reset button. When you release your physical and emotional attachments to past decisions, you can focus on what’s right in front of you and use this newfound freedom as a source of strength and opportunity for personal growth. It’s amazing how big of a difference changing your mindset can make.
4. Contact your creditors.
When facing financial hardship, try reaching out to your creditors, whether that’s mortgage lenders, car lenders, or credit card companies. Be open about your financial struggles and explain your situation. In many cases, creditors are willing to work with you to find a solution, whether that be offering a payment suspension or forbearance option. Start with the debt causing you the most stress and go from there.
5. Cut your insurance costs.
Try conducting an insurance audit to determine if there are opportunities to lower your premiums. Often, we continue to pay our insurance bills without considering potential savings strategies. When looking at your policies, you may discover that you no longer require a certain type of coverage. You may even be missing out on discounts. For example, if you have a teen driver in your household, you could see if the insurer offers discounts for good grades. Start by contacting your insurance agent and ask if they can help reduce your monthly premiums.
6. Network like you mean it.
And, because a growing number of Americans now freelance on the side or full-time, here’s a tip specifically for freelancers suffering from cycles of feast or famine.
Instead of spending excessive time researching and cold pitching, try focusing on having genuine conversations through various social media platforms. Optimize your portfolio for specific SEO terms or create a “hire me” page that does the same job. Always follow up with past or existing clients for referrals — securing new projects becomes easier when you already have a positive work relationship. Try establishing a weekly routine of this to help you navigate inevitable dry spells and give you a consistent influx of work.