When Money is Low

Disclaimer: The tips on this web page are just tips. Please use good judgement when using them. Take responsibility for any risks and try to minimize and avoid any risks. Some info may not apply, be incomplete, or outdated. Please verify the info yourself before applying the tips. Good luck!

Tip 1. Credit card debt. If you have credit card debt:
a. See if you can negotiate the amount of debt with the credit card company (call and kindly ask). They may reduce it.
b. See if you can find a better debt instrument, with low transfer fee and low interest %. Often banks / credit unions will have 12-18mo 0% interest debt transfer checks, after which the interest will jump to high rates. Make a (realistic) plan for eliminating or significantly reducing the debt while the interest is 0% (or very low). If confident, make the transfer.
c. See if you can find institutions that help pay some of your debt while you are also trying to pay it off.

Tip 2. Reduce food expenses:
One of the (relatively) easiest (and fastest) expenses to reduce, esp. when money is low, is food.
a. Apply for Food Stamps. If this feels difficult, it would be useful to do some inner work to resolve the difficulty (what you usually do shall work, such as meditation, prayer, energy healing, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), psychological counseling, walking, running, talking to a friend, whatever usually already works for you; something you can do for free). Once it becomes easy enough and you had at least 30 days of low income, apply. You may get expedited 3-day emergency application to get approved. If you live by yourself (or the collective income of people you live with are low enough), you are likely to qualify. You will get a special card called EBT card (Electronic Benefits Transfer). Major and some minor grocery stores accept EBT. Go to those that accept and discontinue using cash, credit cards, etc. for food and only when you need a specific item you can't get for free soon enough (see b). Use only your EBT card when you pay for food that you plan to eat or prepare mostly by yourself. Most of the time, EBT balance is yours to keep and doesn't expire (easily).

b. Find and get free food. Free food may be abundant if you know where to go or look at. There are non-profits that distribute free food to people with low income. Search on the internet or ask people you trust in your local area to find them. Some will require you to go through a registration process and income & residency verification at the beginning just once (and renew yearly). Some will choose the food for you & some will let you choose the food from whatever they have. The latter is better if you have both options. The former is workable if you know a place to donate the food you don't want (after you keep what you want). You can find and work the available free food distribution systems in your area. Strategically, it is better to have this your 1st choice for getting food. Consider substitutions when you need a specific item (canned tomato may be fine when you were thinking you need fresh tomato if you are going to mix into a salad, etc.) And if you can't get some food and still need a specific food, then use your EBT card, see (a).

Tip 3. Reduce utility expenses.

a. See if you get a lower rate or discount for your utilities from your utility company. If you do, apply and get the lower rate ordiscount.

b. Get help to pay utility expenses. The help is typically credited to your account, it may be once per calendar year. Catch the deadline if the year is about to end so you have utilized the current year's quota. See: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/liheap



Tip 4. Reduce communication expenses

a. See if you can switch to a version of internet that is offered to low-income people at a rate lower than what you pay now. For example, AT&T offers Access, which has lower fees than usual plans: https://www.att.com/internet/access/

b. See if you can apply LifeLine discount to your existing phone line. If not, consider applying the discount to a free or low-cost 2nd phone that you can get from a carrier that accepts LifeLine (often a specialized carrier for mostly customers using LifeLine) esp. to use "data" for free: https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers  That way, you can reduce your expenses for using "data" on your smartphone.

Tip 5. Reduce other expenses or get help.

a. If you have multiple subscriptions, this would be a good time to go over them and eliminate the ones that you don't use or aren't worth keeping at this time. (Anything that helps you get income is worth keeping, such as internet, phone, bike/car, etc.)

b. Get help to pay a bill, such as car insurance & registration fees, from a local chapter of St. Vincent De Paul: https://ssvpusa.org/
    This help may be granted just one time, so strategically it may be better you select a larger upcoming bill  that you can't cover with other help or funds. You may be able to combine several (small) bills coming up. A high rent amount may be too high, though, for this kind of help.

c. Consider getting or switching to an EV (Electric Vehicle) or an e-bike. Starting in 2024, there are more advantageous grants (and even stackable) for an EV. There may be a local initiative to fund an e-bike in your area. Just be aware of them so that if or when they make sense for you (and there is enough financial help/incentive to make it worth it), you can use them.  See if there is a non-profit in your area that helps individuals to get educated and make the transition to an EV or e-bike. In the Bay Area, there is Acterra: https://acterra.org/

Tip 6. Unemployment insurance

a. See if you qualify for Unemployment benefits, esp. if you worked not so long ago. You may qualify for partial even if you earn some income. Typically, investment income doesn't reduce unemployment benefits.

Tip 7. Get one or more part-time jobs

a. While you may be looking for your next bigger income opportunity, consider getting one or more part-time jobs you can easily do without it getting too much in the way. There are tax advantages for earning income every year esp. when it is low over not earning at all. File your tax returns. You will likely get a refund when you earn a low income.

Tip 8. If you have a small business

a. Consider applying to grants as you may get a grant, which could help you increase your business income. To prevent spending too much time with no results, you may want to limit the time you work on finding and applying to grants. You can find, organize, and apply to grants using a Skip account. If you'd like to sign up with a referral code, you can use my referral link: https://helloskip.com/sign-up?ref=ALEKS3

Last updated: 5/28/2024