I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Money is the biggest bane of my life! It’s perhaps why I have found a passion in being a money blogger. I try to make sense of my financial situation and improve it all the time. I read a great quote recently along the lines of ‘if personal finance was easy then no one would be in debt’. Money is definitely complicated and the main source of most people’s stresses and worries. In this blog post I will explore how to avoid financial hurdles and take back control of your money.
Life is one of those things that we just get on with, and while most of the time it can be rosy and happy, there are times in our lives where we can feel like we have hit a brick wall. It is the occasions that can catch you out when everything seems fine on a Tuesday afternoon while you are at work minding your own business. A text comes through asking for help, a phone call you were not expecting, or an urgent letter or email and most of the time is all boils down to money.
Or perhaps your spending has spiralled out of control without you realising it and now you find yourself in debt crisis unable to afford to pay back any of it without ending up further in to debt.
It’s situations like these that tend to cause the most stress in our lives. If I had to name the one thing that makes me stressed and anxious the most, it’s money. I’ve been there with the above situations on plenty of occasions, just like most of us have. I’ve been in debt crisis paying off debt with other debt and never seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily a trip to Citizen’s Advice was a big help and they signposted me to a debt management company who could help. I spent over five years paying every penny back and luckily I’ve never got in that situation again. It was a dark time and one of the most stressful in my life.
Even though I feel more in control of my money and debts nowadays, there are still surprises. Just this week Ben’s car broke down as unbeknown to us the tracking was off and caused one of the tyres to completely wear through! Two tyres needed replacing and the tracking fixing which set us back £200 unexpectedly. Last year alone we were unlucky with several car issues which cost us around £3000 in total. Yikes!
Life throws all sorts of unexpected financial hurdles at us. More examples I can think of include when a close family member died and we needed to pay towards the funeral and also when we had to legally sort a family dispute. All these life events cost lots of money and it can come as a surprise if you’re not expecting them.
Even in our regular lives we are shocked with some things like unexpected high bills or ever increasing bills with companies putting prices up several times throughout the year. We end up paying far more than we originally agreed and expected.
Things can soon take a turn for the worse without us even realising, and we can all face financial hurdles of our own. Instead of avoiding the situation, it is time to take action. Here are some of the things to look at.
Financial problems and solutions
When debt can feel like it is taking over your life
Debt is one of those things people can really struggle with. Credit cards, loans, store cards or overdrafts, they can all be costing you money with the individual interest charges and sometimes that can feel like you are tackling a never ending battle of paying it off. It can feel like it will take years.
The best thing to do is to not bury your head in the sand and tackle the issue head on. There are lots of options and it’s working out which is the right one for you. You could consolidate debts into one loan which gives you one interest charge and a payment plan to pay it off for good. This is a better option if you can get a low interest loan only. Steer clear of high interest loans. Or perhaps a zero interest credit card if your debt isn’t too high. This will give you the chance of paying as much off as possible without accruing any extra interest.
Talking to your creditors can be a big help if you are struggling to meet their payments. They’ll have advisors who can help you or signpost you to a charity or advice line who can. Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau will also be able to offer free impartial advice.
Sometimes getting some extra help can make a difference, speaking with expert IVA companies like Bennett Jones could be a step in the right direction. Whilst I found a debt management plan the right step for me, others I know have had much larger debts and found the IVA to be a better option for them. Make sure you do your research and find the best option for your situation, but most importantly make sure you do go and seek advice and get help. Don’t suffer with debts in silence. There are plenty of options for you and people who are willing to help.
Debts can often be part and parcel of life, but if it is getting too much, then look at all the options that you have.
Are you paying out more than you should be?
Could you be paying out more than you should be for your major bills and outgoings? The truth is you probably are and don’t even realise it. When it comes to our bills, we can often just let them debit our account and work with what we have left.
However, if you were to look at your last three months bank statements you may find that you have rogue debts you thought might have been cancelled. Or may realise you are paying out for something you no longer need. Cancelling these straight away can boost your income. It’s good practice to keep a note of all your incomings and outgoings and to check your accounts regularly. This will make sure you’re not paying for anything that you no longer need.
Other bills can offer a saving by switching providers for things like energy or insurance costs. Keeping a regular check on all of these things will help you to only pay out what you should at the best possible price.
Sometimes it pays to call companies to ask for a discount or to speak to their customer retention team, especially for things like phone bills and broadband and even more so if they keep hiking up your price!
When family and loved ones need financial help
There will be times when you come up with obstacles with finances and often that is due to unexpected costs that can be incurred from family members. This tends to be when people ask you for help with things such as debts they have mounted up, a bill they can’t afford to pay etc. While you may find that it is hard to help people, sometimes you just can’t turn family away. Before helping, it would always be wise to check your current financial situation first and to be honest and upfront about the situation. If you are struggling with money yourself then you won’t be able to help others with money and that’s OK. Make sure your finances are in order first.
There will also be times as I mentioned above when you have unexpected costs relating to family such as funeral costs or even legal disputes. It’s good practice to start an emergency fund for these sorts of unexpected situations and to save into it regularly.
There will also be times when you have some high bills for whatever reason or car repairs that you are never expecting and haven’t budgeted for. It’s so important to save something each month, even if it’s only small, so you can be more prepared financially for whatever life has to throw at you.
There are many financial hurdles in life, but there is lots of help out there if you need to take control of your finances and learning to save more for emergencies is a great way to take control of your own finances so you’re never caught out.
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