Help! I Need Money

coinsinhand

A comment was left of my post entitled If I Had A Million Dollars by Darcey on August 31 that inspired this post. I decided to turn her comment into a reader advice so chime in if you want to.

Darcey wrote: “Hi Sandy. I am sure you get this all the time. But I am a struggling mother or 4 with debt coming out of my ears. My husband is a small town police officer and I work part time medical billing. I am begging you for $$. I am so afraid we will lose our house and have no where to go with our four kids. They are 8,6,4 and 2. It would be so nice to be able to provide them the basic necessities. I know this is probably ridiculous to you, but I thought I would try. Congratulations and all the best to you and your family.”

At first, I couldn’t understand why someone would post a comment on this blog where I am clearly trying to get out of my own debt nightmare asking for money.  It wasn’t until Revanche from A Gai Shan Life pointed out that the comment was on that specific post and that Darcey had probably misunderstood the post and thought that I really did have $1 million laying around that I looked at it from another angle.  It’s clear that there are millions of American living in the same situation that Darcey is.  They are working decent jobs but might be underemployed and are having a hard time making ends meet.  This is clearly why things like extreme couponing has become so popular.  People are trying hard to stretch their dollars and don’t know where to turn.

Since I’m also in the same situation and am fighting the good fight against debt, I decided to respond directly to Darcey here and would love for you to give your advice as well.

Darcey, I am sorry to hear that you are struggling, but you are a two income family of five and I am a one income family of four. While I’d love to help you financially, unfortunately this entire blog is about me trying to make extra money to get out of debt. So, with that in mind I do have some suggestions that might help you.  Trust, me I’ve tried lots of different ways to both save and make money and you can find information on all of these things on my site pretty much in the Save Money and Make Money categories:

Save Money

  1. Children’s clothing is expensive. Do clothing swaps with other moms.
  2. Food is expensive.
    Shop on sale and buy store brands. Len Penzo proved that they are just as good if not better and much less expensive.
    Try couponing
    Cooking as much of your meals as possible
    Bag the childrens’ lunches and your husband’s too
    Apply for the Federal school lunch program for the kids
    Apply for SNAP (food stamps) or WIC for the youngest.
  3. Reduce your gas expenses by carpooling the kids, combining trips and applying other gas saving techniques.
  4. Cancel things that you might not need including cable TV. Kevin shows you how to live without it and Money Cone shows you how to avoid early termination fees when you do cancel cable.
  5. You might be overpaying for cell phone service.  My plan costs me $29.99 with tax because I don’t use it much.  Lots of plans have unlimited everything for $50. Switch! If that fails and you’ve been a loyal customer, call you provider and ask for their often unadvertised cheaper plans.  They will often work with you to keep you.
  6. Consider ditching your home phone or switching to something like Magic Jack.  My mom dropped her home long distance and now uses the Magic Jack for all of her long distance calls.  When I travel internationally I take one with me and all of my calls back home are “local” and FREE!
  7. Scale back your living accommodations.  If you’re in a 3 bedroom apartment, can you made do with 2?  If you live in your own home can you make changes to reduce your carrying costs such as asking for a new tax assessment since property values have fallen all across the nation but tax assessments, strangely, are still inflated. Also, considering selling your home and renting.
  8. Play the CVS extra care game by buying stuff that you need. With three kids, you’ll need lots of stuff.
  9. Do a no-spend challenge where you try to not spend anything for a day, a week or even a month.
  10. Visit the Penny Saver at the Saved Quarter and for even more ideas.  She’s in the very same boat that you’re in.

Make More Money

You can only cut the fat so much.  Here’s the hard truth: YOU MIGHT NOT BE MAKING ENOUGH TO SUPPORT YOUR FAMILY. You might not like them, but here are some suggestions to make more.

  1. Your husband needs to make more.
    If your husband’s job allows, he might need to get a second job, perhaps as a security guard.  He should also try to pick up some more shifts by covering for others or seeing how to advance to a higher pay grade.
  2. You need to make more.  You either need to pick up more jobs as a freelancer or if you commute into work and put the kids into daycare, you should see if you could work from home.
  3. Get a job as a virtual assistant from home.  I just had a profile on someone that does work for me and there are lots of others making a side income from home as well at places like oDesk.
  4. Enter online giveaways.  I’ve won more giveaways this year than in my entire life, combined.  Why?  I just simply enter more.  There are lots of mom bloggers and financial bloggers literally giving away money, prizes and gift cards all the time.  Go to twitter and do a search for #giveaway and see what comes up!
  5. Do some legitimate “get-paid-to” things.  I did lots for Cash Crate and walked away with a decent check for over $65 one month.  The advice is as good now as it was then.
  6. Do you have a spare bedroom or basement that you can legally rent out?  Check out Mike at Renting out Rooms for advice on that.
  7. If your kids are in day care, is it actually costing you money to work and have the youngest one in daycare? Do the math and figure out if you should be working or not. You might actually be better off if you live on one paycheck if daycare costs eat up your pay.
  8. Have you trolled Craigslist for things to do?  Short-term gigs pop up all the time.  I’ve hired people to cut my grass and do other things right off of Craigslist.
  9. You have have stuff laying around your house that you can get rid of?  Sell that stuff off either on Craiglist or eBay.  If you’re not using it, it should go.
  10. Hold a yard sale.  September is a great time to make a little bit of extra cash right from your garage.

One thing that you’ll notice that I did not include as asking people on the internet for money.  It won’t work.  These days everyone is wary of scammers, spammers and schemers.  Even if your story is legitimate people want to help, they might be limited by not knowing you.  Also, I believe quite a bit in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.  I think that it builds character and a sense of pride when you look back and see what you’ve been able to accomplish.  But I also believe in giving everyone that asks for it a hand up.  I wish you the best of luck.

Finance bloggers, do you have any advice for Darcey?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

26 Responses to Help! I Need Money

  1. If Darcey is afraid that she might lose her house, she needs to speak with a certified FREE non-profit foreclosure counselor as soon as possible. HUD.gov or findaforeclosurecounselor.org are both good resources.

    Darcey needs to be careful… there are a LOT of vultures out there that will claim to help, but actually make the situation worse – all for a fee. (Same with the ‘credit card debt’ companies).

    She might want to see if her foreclosure counselor recommends any other social service organizations that might be able to assist as well (food shelves, school supplies, energy assistance). They’ll definitely be able to recommend quality, certified debt/financial counselors that can help with other debt.

    Most importantly, Darcey and her family need to STOP DIGGING. Cut up the credit cards… sell the video games & TVs. Cancel the cable/satellite and cell phones… and get rid of the debt ASAP.

    Hope this helps,
    -Edu

    • Sandy says:

      Good points Ed! Don’t fall for vultures since there are A LOT of them out there willing to separate you for the few pennies that you might have left without caring one bit about you and your family. They prey on people in need. Be very, very careful.

  2. Cassie says:

    Darcey says she wants to be able to supply the basic necessities for her kids, but people vary widely on what they consider “basic”. My question is whether or not the kids are in any form of sport or group activity? A lot of these organizations will slash or wave fees in exchange for volunteer time, and some may even have positions that pay a small dividend.

    Also, even if she cuts up all her cards, she should call the card companies and ask for a rate reduction. A couple months of waived interest or even a decrease of a couple percentage points can make a huge difference in budget breathing room.

  3. 20 and Engaged says:

    The best advice I can give to Darcey is to gather up the contacts of EVERY SINGLE COMPANY/PERSON she pays. Whether it’s a landlord, cable company, credit card company, bank, whoever, and explain her situation and ask what they can do for her. Whether it’s deferring payments, lowering interest rates, giving her fee waivers, those things can help and add up.

  4. Mr. Frugal says:

    Darcey’s in trouble. I’ve been there. It took me years to develop a healthy relationship with money. My situation improved slowly. But man, it took a lot of hard work.

    The good news is that anyone, absolutely including Darcey, can make the same change. So while she’s down, she’s not out.

    There are only two things her family has to do: make more and spend less.

    Going from where she is to where she needs to be is a process, and as Cassie said in a comment above, what she thinks is a necessity now she might not consider a necessity in a few months.

    I wish Darcey the best of luck. I’ll be thinking of her.

    Darcey’s lucky to have a friend like you Sandy. You’ve taken a lot of time to put together some very thoughtful and powerful suggestions. I hope she tries them.

  5. Lyn says:

    Darcey can also use yard sales to look for items to resell on Ebay. I do this and make several hundred dollars extra a month. If she can spare say $25 to get some inventory and do some research on what things sell, she can easily double and triple her investments. I can’t tell you how may times I’ve paid 50 cents for something and sold it on ebay for $10, $20, $25 or even more. There are several ebay tutorials, blogs, etc online that can help her get started.

    Best of luck to her and her family.

    Lyn

    • Sandy says:

      Didn’t think about that one but I might steal that idea too. ;) I am just ramping up my eBay business again and I need inventory. Thanks for this idea.

    • Mr. Frugal says:

      Hey Lyn. Would you recommend any particular tutorial or site for information on getting started selling on ebay?

      I’ve sold things through ebay in the past, but never taken it to the level of being a real side business. I’d love to find out how I could do that.

      Thanks!

      • Lyn says:

        This is my favorite site.

        http://ebaysellingcoach.blogspot.com/

        Her site has tons of free information and tutorials. She also has a pay area but I’m not a member so I don’t know what’s available there but her regular blog entries have helped me tremendously. She is very generous with her information. She also covers selling on Amazon as well.

      • Sandy says:

        My brother has made his living from eBay sales since September 11. :) It’s gotten harder, but it’s still a good resource.

        • Lyn says:

          Yeah, they’ve made several changes over the years, some I agree with, some not so much, but I still think it’s a great side income option and upgrades to paypal and USPS have made shipping waaay easier than in the past. Now you can even fill out customs forms online. When I started you had to go to the post office which was why I stopped shipping internationally. LOL.

  6. Dawn says:

    I do not have a financial blog but am an avid reader of many. My comment is regarding the advice to have your property tax reassesed to attempt to liwer the rate. This may vary by state, but here in NC, property taxes are not adjusted with the economy or housing market. Home values and the taxes owed on them is assessed every 5 years. Property owners can make an appeal only during the reassessment period OR at any time only if some physical aspect of the house has changed (additions, etc) or there was an error on the last assessment (incorrect square footage, etc.) Market changes are not considered legitimate reasons for an appeal. I was told that it works the other way as well – meaning the government can’t raise your property taxes outside of an assessment period just because housing prices go up, either. I have appealed the tax on my farm for the two years with no luck and the above information is the reason I am given. Just wanted to add that wrinkle to your advice. Is this situation true in other states?

    • Sandy says:

      HI Dawn,

      You’re right! Just because you want an assessment doesn’t mean you can. In PA where I own my home, the property as an assessment period every year. The value is based on not just market price but the value of the land and improvements. Land prices have actually fallen significantly in my area so land tracks are selling 50% below what they were 4 years ago. In my case, I can appeal and have. I am waiting for a hearing date to state my case.

  7. sophie says:

    These are all great ideas on making more money. The number one thing she needs to do is save save save.

  8. sophie says:

    These are all great ideas on making more money. The number one thing she needs to do is save save save.

  9. If I was her, the first thing I would do is to stop creating any more debt. Usually when people are having bad financial problems and debt, they tend to create more. After that, I would take a serious look at my spending and cut out anything that wasn’t a real ‘need’. Then as mentioned, look into some temporary government assistance (if eligible). Then assess where I was after all that and make plans to move forward.

  10. If I was her, the first thing I would do is to stop creating any more debt. Usually when people are having bad financial problems and debt, they tend to create more. After that, I would take a serious look at my spending and cut out anything that wasn’t a real ‘need’. Then as mentioned, look into some temporary government assistance (if eligible). Then assess where I was after all that and make plans to move forward.

  11. As much as I think there are flaws in government help programs, they are designed for those who have fallen on hard times and can’t make ends meet. Maybe she can look into and qualify for some part time… but in the end it comes down to four things:

    Shelter
    Food
    Utilities
    and a way to get to work.

    Screw the unsecured credit cards (if she has any) and things that don’t fall into this category… I wish we had more information and a budget, but thankfully they are both employed if I read that correctly…. but shelter doesn’t necessarily mean a home that is too expensive… Its a hard time we live in and people have to make hard choices…

  12. As much as I think there are flaws in government help programs, they are designed for those who have fallen on hard times and can’t make ends meet. Maybe she can look into and qualify for some part time… but in the end it comes down to four things:

    Shelter
    Food
    Utilities
    and a way to get to work.

    Screw the unsecured credit cards (if she has any) and things that don’t fall into this category… I wish we had more information and a budget, but thankfully they are both employed if I read that correctly…. but shelter doesn’t necessarily mean a home that is too expensive… Its a hard time we live in and people have to make hard choices…

  13. Pam McCormick says:

    Excellent ideas and info! I can not help but notice that many times the number of children . . . well I am not trying to be offensive, but my husband and I thought very hard and long(we chose 1 child) when thinking how many children we could afford financially/physically/spiritually.Sometimes the choices we make brings us to the place we are at,now once your there no sense doing the “what if” so take ALL the above advice and use it for your situation.

  14. Pam McCormick says:

    Excellent ideas and info! I can not help but notice that many times the number of children . . . well I am not trying to be offensive, but my husband and I thought very hard and long(we chose 1 child) when thinking how many children we could afford financially/physically/spiritually.Sometimes the choices we make brings us to the place we are at,now once your there no sense doing the “what if” so take ALL the above advice and use it for your situation.

  15. Pam McCormick says:

    Terrific, I am interested in your opinion and how people see this issue impacting their lives in all aspects.I know there maybe many religious references,quotes,theology etc.If that is the persons belief system I get it,well not really but I don’t need to it is theirs to follow.I am more interested in the sharing of information, decision making,thought process and views on this topic.I anxiously await your post!

  16. Pam McCormick says:

    Terrific, I am interested in your opinion and how people see this issue impacting their lives in all aspects.I know there maybe many religious references,quotes,theology etc.If that is the persons belief system I get it,well not really but I don’t need to it is theirs to follow.I am more interested in the sharing of information, decision making,thought process and views on this topic.I anxiously await your post!

  17. Great, very thorough, list of money saving and money making ideas! I would be interested in knowing if Darcy responds. If she does, might make a great follow-up post. I hope she finds it helpful and gives her ideas on positive financial changes :) It’s sad to see people struggling, but hopefully this list serves as great advice for others. Nice job Sandy.

  18. Angie says:

    I am in the same boat as everyone else. This post gets me motivated to do somthing. Last things were financially grim at my house, but income tax came thru and my job went to full time, so hopefully by summer, we should have our feet on solid ground again. I think I know how Darcey feels, when you are so far down that rope, you feel and think you are the only one. Trust me, you are not. Is she ladies?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>