Mired in Money Troubles? Tips for Digging Yourself Out

5-dollar-billMoney troubles bring a very unique type of stress that can really do a number on us. It can push us further into denial and further away from solutions.

If you have reached a point where you are ready to face the issue head on, congratulations on that bold move. This simple admission that there is a problem creates a powerful shift in your mindset, and will spur you into effective action.

Here are just a few tips to help you turn things around and get your head above water.

Assess the ‘Damage’

A lot of people in real financial trouble often don’t realize the full extent of the problem-they just know there is one, a big one. There is a lot of denial and ignoring going on. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you are dealing with exactly. To whom do you owe money? How much do you owe? Are you behind on any bills, and if so, how far? Are there other financial needs you are having trouble meeting? What are your exact worries and fears?

This is the first crucial step that needs to be taken. It will probably be really uncomfortable, but it has to be done.

Know You CAN Change

Many people act like their poor management of money is something beyond their control, as if it was embedded in their genes, like the color of their skin or their height. How we manage our finances is not determined by some innate aspect of ourselves, with some people getting the smart money management gene and others left to struggle their whole lives.

You may be plenty mad at yourself right now, and overly critical. Vow to forgive yourself for your actions up until this point, and know you can break the cycle.

Learn to see yourself differently. Don’t look at yourself as a ‘failure’ or someone who is ‘just bad with money.’ As you are presented with choices to make better financial decisions, do your best to make them. Educate yourself about money—there are lots of great personal finance sites out there. You are reading one right now. Recondition your mind to think and act differently when it comes to money. There are numerous helpful personal finance websites such as Dave Ramsey, Banking Sense, Credit Sesame, and Suze Orman that offer sound advice on dealing with your finances.

Decide What You Can Do Right Now to Get on Track

Seeing where you are now, and what needs to be done to fix this mess, can make you feel more than a bit discouraged and overwhelmed. When we feel this way, we tend to do nothing, which has probably been your MO up until this point.

Not being able to fix it all at once leads us to not trying to fix it at all. But, realize this will take a bit of time, and that progress will be gradual. Nothing motivates us like taking action, and feeling like we are making progress, no matter how small the achievement.

So, think about what steps you could take right now to get things moving in the right direction.

If you have been late on your payments, and have been ducking calls from creditors, find it in you to pick up that phone and face the music. You would be surprised at how accommodating credit card companies and collection agencies can be when people actually reach out to them, are honest about the situation and want to find a solution. They are probably willing to let you set up some sort of payment plan for even a relatively small amount of money.

If there are any expenses you know you could eliminate or modify immediately, like your cable television package of 500 channels, or super-expensive cell phone plan, act now.

If you have been neglecting your retirement funds because you have felt small contributions are meaningless, commit to putting something into that account, no matter how small the amount. Start educating yourself on strategies to maximize this nest egg.

The key is to start doing something, anything, that will make you feel like you are taking control of the situation.

Things are rough right now; the full weight of your situation is hitting you, and it can be scary. But, once you start making moves to change, you’ll feel better and things will begin to take shape for the better.

photo courtesy of Public Domain Photos

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