Your finances affect your life in serious ways. Poor financial health means your credit score dips and you might pay more for your home and car insurance and additional interest on your loans, according to media studies. Job hunting with a low credit score might even mean the difference between getting a job offer or not. Bad finances sap your energy and emotions as you try to handle the creditor calls and letters. Taking the first steps to getting a grip on debt -- any type of financial debt -- are the hardest.
Conscientious record keeping helps handle financial binds for both the short and long term. Debt comes easier with poor record keeping. If you don't keep a running record of your checking expenses, start with one account and make a note of every check written on the account. Use a computer record-keeping program, or go old school with a paper, to record an entry for every check used and all charges made on your credit cards. This organizes your monthly expenses and gives you an accurate record of where you stand financially each month. Avoid canceling any credit card accounts, since this might negatively affect your credit score. Continue to use cards for necessary purchases and pay the bills immediately to maintain your credit rating.
Pulling out of debt includes looking at your finances to determine the main focus of your debt. This helps make the expenses a reality. Adding up your total debt helps focus your efforts to escape to limited spending. Temporary solutions to financial binds include taking out a short-term loan to pay off or combine all debts under a low-interest loan, if your credit allows this option. Once you've focused on the debt amount, you can then plan solutions to reduce it each month, including taking an extra job or selling any investments you might have.
It's the "B" word that nobody likes to hear, but creating a budget -- and sticking to it -- is the only tangible way to pull out of financial problems. Paying off credit cards and loans helps solve debt problems, but it takes major effort sometimes to put the brakes on unnecessary spending. Developing avoidance habits to keep you away from stores or from opportunities to use your credit card keeps your monthly budget plan on track.
Medical and housing costs contribute in a major way to financial problems. Getting immediate help for these two problems puts you on the right track to stop the cash hemorrhaging for both short- and long-term binds. If you have no insurance and meet income guidelines, you can find financial help for health expenses at a number of state and federal agencies, including the Partnership for Prescription Assistance and federally funded health centers. If your housing is an issue, long- and short-term assistance may be available from the Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development and various state programs.
- CNN Money: Finding Financial Planning Professionals
- MyFICO: Why Is Your FICO Score So Important to Your Financial Health?
- University of California Cooperative Extension: Getting Organized -- Bill Paying and Record Keeping
- Indiana Department of Financial Institutions: Financial Records -- Getting Organized
- Federal Trade Commission: Focus on Finances -- Preparing for Your Future
- USA Today: Your Money -- Bad Credit Can Inflate Car Insurance Premiums
- DallasNews.com: Credit Scores Mean Even More in Dallas-Area Homeowners' Insurance Premiums
- FactCheck.org: Health Care Bill Bankruptcies
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.