The clean slate offered through bankruptcy is a relief for people living under the stress of overwhelming debt. The decisions people make after this step determines their financial future. Obviously, medical expenses and job losses prove that debt is not always controllable, but you can take steps to be in a more stable financial position even if these issues arise.
Become a Saver
Immediately establish a savings account at a bank separate from a current checking account to make it a little more complex to access. Direct deposit money from every paycheck into the savings account. Even something as small as $5 a week adds up over time. Increase the balance by adding any unexpected cash windfalls.
Rely on Cash
Studies have shown that people spend less when they use only cash. This is because the consumer is able to see how much each item costs as opposed to using a debit or credit card where nothing tangible trades hands. Cash also limits how much is available to spend at any one time and this gives people a chance to think over their purchases.
Never shop without a list and only take the amount in cash needed to pay for the items on the list. Do this for holiday shopping, groceries, or even when running to the hardware store. Leave cards and checkbooks at home to avoid impulse purchases. Decide how much you need each week for items like gas and parking and carry only that amount.
Learn About Finances
Not everyone has the capability to be a financial wizard, but anyone can pay enough attention to get the best deal. Look for banks that offer free checking and savings accounts, take advantage of employer-sponsored investment plans or health savings accounts, and never assume a lender is offering the best deal possible.
Consider taking a basic accounting course or a class about finances and investing. Most people take a credit counseling class during the course of their bankruptcy filing, but this is not enough. Learn more about how to create a functional budget, discover how to invest safely, and get the skills to determine how much you will need for retirement.
Practice Going Without
People require food, shelter, medical care, and adequate clothing. Aside from these necessities, everything else is a want rather than a need. The problem is that many think they cannot live without cable, manicures, or a gym membership. The easiest way to learn how to do without is to go cold turkey and eliminate any extras.
For example, use the free Wi-Fi offered at a local café or the library. Brew coffee at home, pack a lunch, and only buy shoes when it is time to replace the old ones. Take a break from all non-necessities for at least 30 days and only go back to the ones that truly add to the quality of your life.
Develop Your Skills
Simple skills like repairing auto and home problems, gardening, cooking, and sewing help to save people money every month. If a specific skill eludes you, offer to trade your time and talents with someone else in need. For example, help a neighbor paint a room in their house if they will change the oil in your car.
Protect Your Health
Eat right, exercise, and take advantage of preventative medical services. Living a healthy life is no guarantee of perfect health, but statistically, it reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. Being health-conscious helps to reduce the amount of time people take off from work. This potentially increases work reputation.
Lawmakers established bankruptcy laws to help people have a second chance in life. Take advantage of that opportunity by avoiding previous mistakes and building an emergency fund for unexpected future events. Financial security builds confidence and makes life much less stressful. Let the Law Office of Cowan & Brady help you get that fresh start.