Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Why you're still broke

Some of you have been watching your spending but still feel broke. What gives?

I've been there, as have many others. Here is how we self-check:

What's different? I recently noticed that I was running out of money before the end of the month. It hit me that I usually travel a lot for work, but this year I'm home more, which means I'm spending more on food. I had to become fully conscious of my current expenses, which lead me to determining where my money was going and why, then work out a plan to adjust to a new normal.

Check your mindset. There really is power in believing abundance exists for you. Whenever things are tight and I have to write a check, I say to myself "I live in a universe of abundance," and write TGIR in the memo area. It stands for Thank God I'm Rich, and reminds me that this is only a moment in my financial life cycle. It too shall pass.

Do you really have it? I can only pay that TGIR bill when I actually have the money. Tight and nonexistent are entirely different. All bills are prioritized by the following: food (basic necessities, not eating out,) shelter, utilities, transportation and clothing. Do NOT commit to paying someone back by the 31st if you know it'll impact your ability to pay your rent or mortgage the next day. Be truthful about what you have, prioritize your debtors, set and communicate a plan for all, and stick with it.

Save, save, save. When things are going well it's easy to forget what it's like to be broke. Being diligent with your savings, ideally 10% or more per month, is critical to no longer feeling like you're broke. You cannot control life, only how you respond to it. Savings allows your responses to be swift, measured, and not impact the rest of your life.

As a side note, what's a true emergency versus an urgent matter?
Emergency: You're in a car accident and unable to work for six weeks. You'll keep your job but they'll only pay you for two weeks.
Urgent: Christmas. Important, but it comes at the same time every year and is not worthy of dipping into your savings. Find another way but not debt.

Find the low hanging money fruit. Some overlook opportunities to bring in a few additional dollars because they're so focused on what they don't have. Your teen may be old enough to get a part time job, you may be able to sell some things around the house, or pick up an extra shift or two at work. Make cutting expenses go hand in hand with finding ways to earn more money, then feel free to cut back once things have stabilized, except for your teen working. Studies show there's a huge jump in their development and capacity to manage money when they work up to 20 hours per week.

And so it is.