If you did the Mental Money Misery exercise and you feel that your situation is actually desperate, please get some help! There are resources out there, and there is emotional power in taking action.
· Sit down with your own loved ones and discuss the situation honestly. Make a commitment to have a loving discussion even in an emotionally painful situation. Brainstorm ways to make improvements, showing some confidence in your family’s ability to pitch in. Write down, as a family, what ideas you might have to make extra money. This could range from a little business like a babysitting service to renting out a room to a college student.
· Are you a stress monster? Does the money mess make you so crazy that you’re making your loved ones suffer? Calm down; you are looking for action items, not drama!
· Can you lower your monthly “overhead?” I’m referring to those items you have to pay every single month – the cable bill, the car payment. If you can lower your overhead, you are giving yourself a raise. Brainstorm radical ways to cut costs, like moving into the parents’ basement (and paying them rent). Mooching is not a solution.
· Most churches have a benevolence fund. Call and see if a local church can help you with bills, financial mentoring, financial classes, counseling or family counseling, low-cost child care or other practical assistance. They probably have phone numbers and ideas for you.
· Get on the phone to local government agencies and information hotlines. Find out what assistance is available.
· Make a list of people you know who are clever with money, and call somebody to help you think through your situation. For instance, I knew a single mom who told me, “I am good at money. There is always money in my purse, I never worry about money, and I don’t make much.” I wouldn’t mind following her around and seeing how she does it! Wouldn’t she be an ideal financial mentor? Maybe your financial mentor is an older person who used to own a business and brought it through both bust and boom.
· Find a class. If you join a Financial Peace or Crown Ministries class, or a night class on personal finance, suddenly, you’ve got a peer group with whom you can share and learn.
· Hit the library and internet, looking for ideas.
· Explore the bad spots in your personal financial situation. If it’s ugly, face it. Don’t let it deteriorate. Can you work out a payment plan for the mechanic? Do you have a creditor you’re not paying but you haven’t written or phoned? Have you seen a professional about those back taxes?