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Fast Financial Help Paying Bills

The average American spends more than half of their yearly salary on the three major expenses of housing, cars, and food. Take a look at the chart below for some eye-opening facts about how a 4-person American family with an average income after taxes of $89,803 spent the bulk of their yearly paycheck ($68,481) in 2009. 

Expense

Dollar Amount

Percent of Total Spent

Housing

$22,858

33%

Transportation

$10,487

 

15%

Food

$9,369

14%

Insurance & Pensions

$8,590

 

13%

Everything Else Combined

$17,177

25%

Source: United States Department of Labor 2009 Consumer Expenditure Survey

You can clearly see that the three single largest expenditures are housing, transportation, and food, which amount to 62% of the total average family expenditure. That is quite a chunk of any family’s annual budget so it’s no wonder you may need financial help paying bills each month. Let's take a look at ways we can trim expenses in each of the top five categories to free up some monthly cash and get you some financial help fast.

  • Housing: It used to be that owning a home was a much better financial decision than renting because with monthly payments being equal, you would have an asset, once you paid off the mortgage. Now, even though home prices have come down since reaching a peak 2005, monthly mortgage payments are still much higher than in the past, creating a significant disparity between mortgage payments and renting payments. Here’s a couple of ways to save on housing:

-Rent instead of buy. By renting rather than buying a home, you will avoid paying for inflated home prices, the high costs of real estate taxes, private mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, maintenance, and much more.

-Call your lender. If you currently own a home, investigate our article on how to cut your mortgage expenses by working with your lender to get financial help paying bills.

  • Transportation: It’s often said that Americans love their cars, but here it is in black and white:  We spend about 15% of our annual budget on car payments, car insurance, gas, and maintenance for our cars. If you need financial help paying bills, you might explore budget cuts involving your vehicle:

-Sell your car for cash. If you have a newer car, evaluate its official Kelley Blue Book® value and sell it for cash if you have equity in it. Then, read our article on how to buy a much cheaper car with the cash on hand so you will have no monthly payments.

-Evaluate insurance premiums. When you buy a car for cash, you will not be required to carry those large collision insurance premiums required by the loan carriers, which can cut your monthly car insurance payments drastically.

- Trade it in. Trade your expensive car for a much cheaper make and model, which will reduce your payments.

  • Food: We all have to eat, but with an average of 14% of our annual paycheck spent on food, are you getting the most for your money? Consider that $3,917, or 5.72%, of your yearly annual budget is spent on eating out. Even though fast-food may seem cheap on the “dollar menu,” an average family of four might spend $15-$20 at the very cheapest of fast food establishments. You could have a full, nutritious, and home-cooked meal at home for much less. Tips for saving on food:

- Eat out less. Evaluate your and your family’s weekly eating out habits, including buying lunch at work or school, and swap several fast-food meals for healthier, cheaper, home-cooked meals you can also pack and take to work if you need quick financial help paying bills.

- Involve the whole family. Create a list of favorite meals and then take turns choosing and helping prepare them.

-Cut shopping costs. In our article on the many different ways to cut costs on shopping bills, you can get many ideas on trimming family food shopping. 

  • Insurance & Pensions:  Insurance and pensions are important aspects of your budget and your financial well-being, so you don’t want to make cuts to existing plans unless you desperately need financial help.

-Get out of debt. Digging yourself out of debt is a savings plan in itself, so foregoing contributions to a retirement plan for a while may make financial sense if you are paying more in credit card interest, than you are earning in interest on your investments.

-Call your insurance agent. Check on your other insurance premiums to make sure you’re getting the best deal and to see if you can save money by making adjustments.

  • Everything Else. Americans making debt payments every month fall into this 25% Americans spend on “everything else” including entertainment, vacations, alcohol, shopping for clothing and services, and other necessary monthly expenses like utilities and household expenses. These purchases are very often put on credit cards, which cause you to pay more because you owe interest on the purchases and they build your debt higher.

-Get professional help. Analyze your debt situation to determine whether you need professionalfinancial help paying bills. Review this list of helpful debt management articles so you can research your options.

- Try debt management. Consult with skilled budget counselors who may be able to negotiate payments with your creditors and create a workable, realistic debt management or debt consolidation plan.

These may sound like difficult choices to make when deciding ways to cut expenses, however if you need financial help paying bills, these strategies can help. Any one of these choices can free up some cash allowing you to save or spend smarter, pay down credit card debt, or complete a debt management program. Once you see yourself making progress, you’ll feel more in control of your financial health. 

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