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FDIC statistics show that almost half of us spend more than we earn.

A little over half of us live paycheck to paycheck. They report that 42 percent of us don’t have enough cash reserves to live or sustain our homes for three months. These numbers add up to a lot of worried families living stress-filled lives.

  • Ask for help. When meeting with families in our local shelter, it has my job to list resources. I was amazed at how often people were unaware of the most basic local support systems for financial help and housing. If you are lucky enough to have a family or support system you can work together sharing wisdom, information, resources and, sometimes, expenses. There are many people who specialize in getting help for people in need.

  • Find a healthy way to cope with stress. It’s acceptable to have a bad day. However, it is not OK to take it out on those around you. The American Psychological Association shares information on handling stress including being aware of what you do to handle stress. Do you have healthy ways to relieve pressure like exercise and creative hobbies? Or, do you do things that actually add to your pressures, like gambling money you don’t have, overeating comfort foods, drinking too much or other self-destructive choices?
  • Turn financial challenges into a positive learning experience. For example, if your child asks for money for a school activity, rather than explaining why you can’t afford it, let your child know it’s not in the budget, then get creative about ways to find the funds. Help your child work his first odd job like lawn mowing or holding a yard sale
  • Break overwhelming tasks into bite-sized pieces. Sometimes when we feel hopeless about our finances, housing or other life challenges, we throw our hands in the air and give up. Getting our financial or physical house in order seems impossible. Begin chipping away a little at a time. If you feel you need a financial reserve to feel secure, save when you can. If you feel you need to move to safer housing, make a budget and look for small ways to sacrifice and watch your savings add up. Make a visible savings goal that you share with the family. Make trimming the budget a fun family affair as you work toward a unified goal.

Make sure to read: Four Things You Need to Know When Filing Taxes andSecretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Parent PLUS Loan

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