Nibbling around the edges of a bad money situation is okay for a while but perhaps you’ve realized that it’s not solved the real problem? When the financial picture is sufficiently poor that there’s a constant stress ‘n’ struggle around money, you cannot live that way forever.
It’s unhealthy to live and remain stuck because of your money troubles. It can raise your blood pressure and cause emotional distress. So much so that sometimes it’s necessary to go on the offensive by fixing what’s wrong once and for all.
Here is how to get back control of your money if you feel like it’s controlling you.
#1 – Clear Your Mind
If you’re a ball of stress, dealing with money might make you overly anxious or even become fearful.
It’s important to clear your mind of worries about money before sitting down to tackle it. We’d suggest going for a walk in the park or taking part in a physical activity that you enjoy like swimming or sports.
By getting away from what’s been stressing you out and giving your mind a breather, you can return fresh and ready to go on the offensive.
#2 – Get Your Credit Cards Under New Management
Getting your credit card “under new management” is a little tongue in cheek. What we mean is that you need to save goodbye to overly costly interest on a revolving credit with a credit card. This combined with failing to make above minimum payments leaves the balances on the cards stalking your sleep.
It’s much better to attack them by choosing to pay off credit card debt and get a better rate for the remaining credit. It will then cost less and can be repaid sooner. The Tally app offers this service as part of its premium package. They also have their app that allows for stress-free payment of each credit card, so nothing gets missed. That way, paying them off using higher repayment amounts gets rid of card balances at a more rapid pace.
#3 – Never Met a Subscription You Didn’t Love
Companies have fallen in love with the subscription model. It’s one that they’ve eagerly borrowed from the cable TV industry that hooked customers on a cable plan and then they never seemed to end the relationship. Now it’s almost as if every other company across a spread of industries now has a roster of subscription plans each with different features or services offered.
It’s extremely easy to become a victim of subscriptions by taking up everyone offered. If you want music, there’s the YouTube Music subscription or Spotify. Netflix or Amazon Prime are two more for consuming media. The list goes on and on. It’s quite insidious.
Sit down and list out all the subscriptions that you pay for every month. First look for ones that overlap or duplicate each other. For instance, if you have both a Pandora and YouTube Music subscription, or a Netflix and Amazon Prime subscription, isn’t it time to remove one of each?
Be ruthless with subscriptions, both in removing ones you’ve become accustomed to but no longer need and in avoiding signing up for new ones too.
#4 – Bills Aren’t Fixed Expenses
Regular bills might seem almost like fixed expenses because they arrive and need to be paid (or they’re automatically debited out of your account), but they’re not fixed at all.
Whether you’ve got a cable TV bill, a water utility one, or a gas provider, they’re never fixed in stone. Look at alternatives for each to see if there’s a cheaper way to receive a similar service. There might be more than one energy provider in your neighborhood. Similarly, multiple telecom providers probably offer phone lines to your ZIP code. This opens the door to negotiate on rates, add-ons, and other options to get the cost down.
Once you have an idea of what your options are, call up the companies to discuss them. If you can demonstrate that you have a firm grasp on your other choices available and are familiar with the latest prices, you’ll be in a commanding position to negotiate well. And when the sales operator tries to fob you off, you can argue correctly when their comparisons are inaccurate or misleading.
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#5 – Food, Glorious Food…
We all require it. However, we each spend varying amounts on it.
While some people insist on purchasing Coca-Cola, other shoppers are happy to get Walmart’s own brand version of cola and pocket the savings. Similarly, there are many options for altering food purchasing habits to switch away from consumer brands to less expensive ones.
Even completely changing supermarkets from Safeway to Walmart or Walmart to Aldi, at least for some items, can slash the food bill noticeably. When it’s a large number every month, then drastic measures must be taken to rethink how you get food shopping done.
Choices about what to eat and drink need to be more conscious in the future. Doing so makes it possible to take back control. And when your food spending is worryingly high, there’s no time to lose.
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#6 – Embrace Frugality
We’re all about frugality on this site, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t include a section about frugality.
The main thing that’s often misunderstood with it is that it’s about depriving yourself. That’s not true. It’s about re-prioritizing your spending away from things that provide little value to you any longer. Then the freed-up money can be put toward something of higher value, whether that’s clearing a debt, adding to savings, or something else entirely.
Frugality supports your goals. The degree of frugality that you choose to embrace and your particular brand of it is entirely up to you. We would suggest frugal choices that are repeatable are better. Making them a lifestyle choice, not a deprivation, creates more success from this approach. It’s also possible to be more frugal when clearing debts but ease up on them after that point. There’s zero judgment too.
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#7 – Choosing the Best Money Management Method
The best money management method for you is specific to what’s most comfortable.
If you prefer to use a spreadsheet, that’s fine. However, personal finance apps can help to better track daily spending and provide free reports to monitor what’s happening with your money. Similarly, you may prefer to use a debit card rather than carrying cash around. Using a credit card instead of cash requires being astute with spending plans by tracking it across all categories to ensure you don’t overshoot the budget.
Find what is best for you while still allowing you to maintain better control over money than in the past.
Feeling out of control with money is never good. It leads to thinking that the bottom is going to fall out of your world. By taking back control, it removes this altogether. Keeping an eagle eye on expenses and challenging yourself to do better each day by being frugal and reducing costs creates space in your budget. By doing so, the tension from repeatedly encountering difficult financial situations eases away.
Rather than ordering another “stress-free” candle or paying for a premium meditation app, give yourself the gift of less financial-related stress instead. It’s far more satisfying and it lasts longer too.
Stay in touch
Hope this post inspires you and of course, I’d love to know what you think! Let me know in the comments below or find me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and add the hashtag #practicalfrugality so that I can see your post.
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