One of the more distressing aspects of experiencing a financial hardship is the feeling that the bills will never go away or be paid off. Cable television, internet, cell phones, housing phones, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions may be somewhat unnecessary but have become almost indispensable for modern life in America. And all of these bills do not even take into account utilities like heat and electricity, or debt payments like car loans, the mortgage, student loans, and credit cards.
When money dries up due to a loss of job, medical emergency, or lack of business, these bills, which at one time were manageable, can turn into a much heavier burden. While it may be possible for homeowners to cut down in some of these areas or eliminate some monthly expenses, not all of them can be completely done away with, and missing debt payments may result in repossession, foreclosure, or bankruptcy. Thus, homeowners need to cut expenses in almost every area of their lives when facing a hardship — just focusing on the regular bills and credit lines may not relieve enough of the strain.
If the homeowners have any extra money in savings or a bank account, it may be a good idea to pay off as many credit lines as possible, just to eliminate that monthly expense completely. This also leaves the door open in the future for any potential borrowing, if need be. But homeowners who face a hardship and then fall behind on their credit cards or personal loans will find it very difficult to refinance their mortgage or car payment if their credit scores have already begun to deteriorate. Paying off any bills with extra cash may keep the possibility of a foreclosure loan open a bit longer.
Even such simple ideas like hang drying clothing can cut the electricity costs for homeowners with large families or with multiple room houses that take a lot to heat, cool, or keep the lights on. A dryer that runs often can end up costing quite a bit every month, and while just hang drying wet clothes will not save a family from foreclosure, every little expense that can be reduced will preserve the family’s financial health for as long as possible.
Necessary expenses, such as a new refrigerator or household goods can also be reduced dramatically by buying on clearance or used from second hand stores or garage sales. People often upgrade unnecessarily, buying new appliances because they no longer like the old ones or are moving and have no need for them any longer; there may be nothing wrong with the appliances except cosmetically. Furthermore, homeowners in foreclosure know that financial hardships have a tendency to pile one on top of the other — first they lose a job, then the roof starts leaking, then the fridge breaks down. The means to fix any of the little items that are necessary for life may cost much less than some homeowners believe.
Possibly one of the most useful ways homeowners can cut down on their expenses is an activity that had fallen out of common practice for years but which seems to be making a return. Growing food in the window or in the backyard may not sound like a realistic method to cut expenses, but some plants can grow in nearly any soil or any container, as long as they are well taken care of. And planting a small garden can prepare homeowners for the possibility of rising food prices or shortages, if there is an emergency.
Another idea is simply to adhere strictly to a weekly budget and then keep attempting to drop down the amount that is spent in certain areas. Reducing electricity use, going out to eat less often, driving less, walking more, and a whole host of other actions can be taken to cut down expenses to the bare minimum. This may seem like the life of a poor person, huddling in the dark and the cold, but homeowners often find that it is more rewarding to find they are more self-reliant and happier without all of the artificial comforts.
In the end, whatever homeowners facing an economic hardship can do to reduce their bills, the better their chances will be to stop foreclosure and keep control of their financial lives. The main priorities are always keeping a roof over their heads and getting back on track to have more leeway in their monthly budget, and even severe cost-cutting measures can be considered only short-term to weather a financial storm. With an economic hurricane on the way, and talk of the worst June month since 1930, it may be a good idea for more people to begin preparing themselves mentally and physically for the tough times ahead.