The financial world can be intimidating to many of us. It seems as if people with money get more privileges while people without (or at least just a little) get hit with more expenses than they can afford. If you’re part of the latter, then there are certain maneuvers you can make to ensure that your low income remains YOUR income. Below are some tips to help you navigate these potentially-treacherous waters.
1. Join a Credit Union
We all know how banks can be like. They have a slew of fees that can eat away at what little money you already have. Which is why you might be better of joining a credit union. Credit unions are owned by their members so there are no shareholders that they need to keep happy. As a result, they often offer small minimum balances (some have none at all), better interest rates, and lower fees.
2. Find Financial Assistance
Pinching pennies is all well and good. But there may be times when it really isn’t going to be enough. And while a better paying job would be the best solution, it’s not always the available option. So, let’s do the next best thing. There are government programs specifically designed to assist low-income households to “survive.” Some programs help reduce healthcare costs (Medicare, Medicaid) while others provide assistance for food such as SNAP and WIC. If you don’t wish to use these programs, you can look for cash advances online – short term loans to help tide you over until you get your next paycheck.
3. Learn Financial Planning for Free
There are lots of educational resources online that teach lessons on financial planning. There are also organizations such as the National Endowment for Financial Education that offers to teach the public about financial services. Information is key to ensure you don’t end up losing your money to fees and unnecessary expenses.
4. Ask about Alternative Payment Plans
Monthly installments are a lot easier to handle than a lump sum payment, even if you end up paying a little bit more. This is why you need to ask your utility providers, landlord, and insurance agencies if they are willing to let you do smaller payments but at a more frequent rate. While it won’t save you money in the long run, it will ensure you’re able to make ends meet every month much more easily.
5. Balance your checkbook on a spreadsheet
Managing your money is key to making sure you don’t end up with no money to pay for all your basic necessities. Having a budget is the first step. The second one is listing it all down and keeping track of how much money is going in vs how much money is going out. This also allows you to ensure you don’t get bounced checks, denied transactions, and overdraft fees because you’ll be able to monitor just how much money you have in your bank. While it’s really easy to do the math in your head or cross your fingers that you’ve got it all figured out, having a spreadsheet that will literally show you exactly where you stand is a whole lot better, especially in the long run.