Five Tips on How to Set Priorities during Financial Stress
There’s much more to life than money. But a lack of money can really put a damper on everything else. Financial stress has a way of darkening one’s entire outlook. And the fact that it tends to be self-perpetuating makes it even worse.
When you’re facing financial stress, you may feel that the only cure is more money. While that would certainly help, it is not always forthcoming. So we must learn to set priorities in order to make sure our needs are met. But when you’re facing a sudden change in your finances, that’s not always easy.
Here are five tips to make setting priorities during hard times easier.
1. Remember the basic essentials of life: food, water and shelter. Take care of those needs first. Pay your rent or mortgage, electric bill (for safe food storage and cooking), and water bill first thing each month. Next, buy groceries. Then tend to everything else.
2. If you have a job, make sure you have a way to get to and from work every day. This means paying for public transportation or maintaining your own vehicle. If you must drive, auto maintenance should be a top priority. If you don’t properly maintain your car, you could find yourself with no way to get to work, putting you in danger of losing your job.
3. Do your best to stay in good health. Get plenty of sleep, eat fresh, healthy foods and find a way to pay for any maintenance medications you need. If you are uninsured, apply for Medicaid or seek out free or low-cost clinics in your area. Staying healthy in the first place will reduce your chances of incurring large medical bills, which could cause even greater financial stress.
4. Keep major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners and furnaces in good repair. Heating and air conditioning units should be checked for problems each year to help prevent breakdowns, and filters should be changed as recommended by the manufacturer. If your stove or refrigerator is on the fritz, having it repaired instead of buying a new one can save you money. If something must be replaced, try to find a used one first.
5. Reduce or eliminate expenses for things you can do without. If you have a cell phone, you may be able to get by with a cheaper plan. If you also have a home phone, consider having it cut off and using only your cell phone. Cable or satellite TV is not a necessity, so if you’re having a hard time making ends meet, consider getting it cut off.
Financial stress can affect our decision-making skills when we need them the most. By setting priorities, you can manage your money more efficiently and eliminate unnecessary spending. This will help ensure that your needs are met, and that in turn will reduce stress levels. Then you can work toward getting your finances in better shape.