The Heat is On

Summer doesn’t just mean vacations, pool-parties, and cook outs. It also means households with people spending more time at home will eat more snacks throughout the day, use more electricity playing games or watching tv, and more time at home means we want our homes to be a comfortable temperature – which translates to higher air conditioning costs.

While some people may be enjoying “fun in the sun”, others might be feeling the heat. Even the best laid plans can be interrupted by an emergency. Sometimes when a person begins using a budget regularly they find that their spending in August is different than their spending in February. If there are months where there are a lot of birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays close together where gift-giving is expected then how are those occasional expenses accommodated in a budget? Is there a special savings account for holiday spending? Do they simply pull from their regular savings account, or do they cut back on their own “fun” purchases to get the gifts? Does it come out of the tithing/giving portion of their budget?

Finding a budget or spending plan that can be calculated once and followed forever-after without any changes is so rare it’s practically a myth.

A budget is a living document that will fluctuate and change as a person achieves goals then sets their sights on new things.

If a person has a budget that generally works, but due to whatever circumstances is in a “tight spot” there are three questions they can ask themselves to determine whether or not to get some help, or stay the course.

The first question, “Is there a definite solution on the horizon?”

A gentle way to describe living in poverty is that it can feel like trudging through a desert with little more than the clothes on your back. Some people may have the first check from their new, well-paying job just a few weeks away. Another person may be waiting on insurance to reimburse them for the cost of an emergency. In those instances, a person in the throes of financial struggle has help on the way. Their higher earnings will enable them to pay the bills and keep the pantry full. That insurance payout will go to payoff the credit card that was charged up during the crisis.

Be careful not to fall for a “mirage”; a definite solution is when a person has the job and is waiting on that first paycheck – not when they have a job interview or opportunity. A definite solution is confirming that insurance will cover the damage, the claim has been filed, and the check is on the way. A mirage is based on hope, a definite solution comes with a paper trail.
The second question, “Is there a way this could have been prevented or avoided?”

Proper car maintenance can prevent a whole host of costly repairs. Health checkups for people in the home as well as pets in the home can also help detect potential emergencies before they occur. But a wide variety of emergencies are unforeseen. After the emergency is handled, budgets or spending plans can be recalculated to include costs for preventative measures going forward – so the emergency is not repeated. If the emergency was unavoidable, was the financial impact minimized by having an emergency savings account so day-to-day spending was not interrupted?

The final question, “Would another perspective be useful in determining how to make changes or what changes would be most beneficial?”
Many people when they use tools like our Money Management feature that offers a detailed look at how they spend their money they can clearly see what needs to change and they are confident they can make the necessary changes quickly. Some people may truly not understand or see where it all goes every month, and even with helpful tools they need another pair of eyes to help them see what they are not seeing.

There is no right or wrong answer to any of these three questions. The right answer is the one that achieves the goal. If solutions are on the way, and a person can buckle down and hold on – that’s great. If solutions are on the way, and someone needs a cheerleader to remind them that help is on the way – we have FREE financial counselors to help.

If this could (or could not) have been prevented and person knows exactly what to do to prevent this mistake or inconvenience in the future and has no trouble implementing changes in their day-to-day life – that’s great!

IF this could (or could not) have been prevented and a person doesn’t know what to do, or needs support in finding and making changes then we have FREE financial counselors to help.

If a person has all the support and expert advice they need to be financially successful – that’s great! If they have any questions about any aspect of their finances – we have FREE financial counselors here to help.

It’s the height of summer, and there’s no need to suffer – we have ways to help you beat the heat so you can Learn More and Live More.