Budgeting is important. Take the time to sit down and write out how much income you have versus how many expenses you have. If you have any money left over at the end of the month, count yourself lucky. If your expenses are more than your income, you have problem.
There are many ways to make an extra buck. You can do stuff like collect cans and recycle them or donate plasma when you need some extra cash. You can sell or pawn any items that you can live without out or get a small loan. I don’t recommend the pay day loans unless you have exhausted all other avenues.
Don’t be afraid to make use of your community resources as well. Usually you can find a food bank to hold you over. Some charities will also help out with things like buying school supplies and Holiday gifts. I was happy to find out my community also put together baskets full of cleaning supplies for the needy as well.
If you can’t afford to pay rent or neglect to do so out for whatever reason, you may be evicted. If you are evicted, know your rights. The landlord can evict you for non-payment. If you are withholding rent because your house is unsafe due to lack or repair on the landlord’s parts, you may be able to get the eviction overturned. You may also be able to fight the eviction if it is over something like being noisy or violation of some other rule in the lease.
Also, if you find a new place to stay or live, remember to get your stuff. The longer you leave your stuff in the uninhabited apartment, the more likely you are to lose it. The landlord will think you abandoned your stuff and will most likely dispose of your stuff and change the locks.
Many people will advise you not to get credit cards. They can be dangerous, but these days you really need to have one. I have found that you need a credit card for travel more than anything. If you want to book a flight, rent a car or get a hotel room then a credit card is the best way to do so. You can use a debit card, but you have to make sure that you have enough money in your account to cover your expenses when you book. If your bank account fluctuates or you won’t have the money until later, a credit card is the best way to go.
When you get a credit card, make sure you get one without an annual fee and one that has a low interest rate. If you are paying over 12% interest, is probably too much. Usually they start you out with a low credit limit and extend that limit higher and higher as you prove that you can handle the monthly payments. And remember credit card companies charge large fees every time you have a late payment or go over your limit. Pretty soon $100 multiplies to $200 and so forth if you don’t keep on top of it. And pay more than your minimum payment due if at all possible. The longer you keep a balance, the more you end up owing the credit card company.
Many people were reluctant to make the move from checks to debit cards, but debit cards have many things easier in a lot of ways. You should have one even if you prefer using cash, checks or credit. Get used to keeping track of when you use it and what your balance is.
I also advise paying bills online if possible. Most don’t charge for electronic transfers from your bank or using a debit card. Many people also like to set up automatic withdrawals. This is great if you have steady income. I am reluctant to use automatic withdrawals because my income is often not consistent or reliable. But it does save time and energy. You don’t have to sit down and write out a check and then mail it to the address on your bill.
If you move from a house or apartment, always leave a forwarding address. The only exception to this is if you are running from the law. Most people aren’t dodging law enforcement. It seems they neglect this step out of laziness. I know that everyone gets less mail than they used to, however the mail you do get can be very important.
If you haven’t gone paperless then you will not receive your monthly bills if you don’t leave a forwarding address. Any important court documents or documents relating to state benefits won’t get to you either. It will save a lot of headaches, especially if you receive food stamps or Medicaid benefits. You benefits may end up being canceled if you don’t leave a forwarding address or reach out to your local social services office.
Also, get car insurance. I know if feels like a waste of time and money. However, if you get pulled over and don’t have any, than you have to waste even more time and money going to court and paying a huge fine for not having it.
Auto Insurance is a necessity. Liability Insurance will cover the money for the other person’s property damage or bodily damage. It will cover the expense to get their car fixed or cover their medical bills. This is important to have. Full coverage will cover damage done to your car or yourself. It is nice to be able to afford this, but not always necessary. It is only necessary if you buy a brand new car off the lot. While you are making payments on this brand new car, you will be required to make large payments to your insurance company as well. I have never owned a brand new car. Used vehicles have worked fine over the years.
Always pay your traffic tickets. If you fail to pay or to show up to your court date they automatically put a bench warrant out for your arrest. It is not worth it to ignore it. The exception to this rule is red light cameras. The photo ticket you receive in the mail is not something they will prosecute. Since the camera can’t testify in court, then it is not exactly legal. It is more like a deterrent.
And always wear your seat belt. I don’t care if you hate it, you run the risk of not only getting killed in an accident, but also you run the risk of having to pay a fine if you are pulled over. Just get in the habit of doing it and you won’t have to worry.
And if you ever do get arrested, don’t try to talk your way out of it. You have the right to remain silent, so use it. And when the police question you, demand a lawyer. You don’t have to talk to them without a lawyer present. If you bond out you can still get a public defender. You just have to prove you don’t have the money for a lawyer or that you have a financial need for the state provided lawyer.
If you end up on probation or on parole, keep your appointments with your case worker or officer. It may feel stupid or pointless, but not showing up is a sure way to land yourself back in jail. Just keep your head down and behave until the probation or parole is over no matter how much you hate it. Going to those stupid appointments is always better than spending more time in jail!