Having enough money is a dilemma for a lot of people, and more so for those on a limited income. It's disheartening to read stories about folks having to choose between buying medications or buying food.
What's worse, the earning power has dwindled to nothing. At this stage, it's difficult to find work-arounds and look for ways to earn more. That ship has sailed and now, they have to adapt to the hand they're given.
That’s a lot easier said than done, though. Some of them couldn't work even if they wanted to, while others with limited income do work but for minimum wage. And they don’t have free time or energy to pick up a second job. Here’s where resourcefulness comes in.
The basic rule of personal finance, spend less than one earns, is useless at some point. The rule won’t change how much money one has. So, the person has to adapt the rules to their situation.
Some Ideas to Accomplish ThatThere’s a lot of practical and basic advice about money -- how to save it, plan it, not spend it, and even how to make it work for you, and each is a necessary part of having enough to make it last during retirement.
But what helped me more with my money than anything was changing the way I thought about it.
Back years ago, when I was in debt and struggling, I felt smothered by all of the bills and laboring to pay them off. I had to give up on everything except necessities. (I was lucky though, this happened to me while I still had years left to earn more.)
What I finally learned was to be grateful for all that I had and not worry so much about all that I didn't. That act made it easier to stop spending and to overcome the fear of the almighty dollar.
Look for Opportunities to Give You a Leg Up
You can be as frugal as possible and cut all your expenses, but earning more money is better. Eric Ravenscraft writes about personal finance, and he says, "Sometimes spending less than what you earn or have isn’t always helpful because sometimes spending more is actually the better financial decision. I bought a smartphone on credit when I was broke, which is a terrible decision. On the other hand, without it I wouldn’t have been able to start writing about Android, which is what kick started my career...in virtually all situations, there are cases where buying something can give you a leg up."
In a comment on my page about about paying off debt - I suggested paying cash for everything, "When you shop, pay with cash or debit cards. Cash gives more spending power."
A reader debated my tip, “I have to budget, but I totally disagree with just one of the statements. I NEVER use cash, and don't own an ATM card. I use credit cards (chosen carefully.) Since I love to travel, I have yet to pay for a hotel or an airline flight. I always keep at least one cash back card. My current card gives me 6% back on groceries & 3% on gas.”
I replied, "Give me the name of your credit card because never paying for a hotel or airline flight sounds good to me." The reader's leg up was to make money even when charging purchases.
Seize Opportunities Look for opportunity in everything. If you enjoy making jewelry or other items - create an Etsy account or sell your wares at local fairs.
And if you're lucky to receive a sum of money via an inheritance by chance, don't spend it all. Use it to help you reach financial goals, like paying off debt or investing. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, but acknowledging the opportunity that exists is resourceful.
Some opportunities aren’t fun. When a friend was working a minimum wage job, he somehow saved ten thousand dollars in a few years. Recently, I asked him how he managed to do it. "I took advantage of opportunities." For him, “opportunity” was overtime. Most of us would turn up our nose at that, but he didn't care. He saw it as a way to save enough to go to school.
Make your own decisions, but searching for options to help you reach your goal will go a long way toward being resourceful.
Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’tIt might be downsizing, selling furniture, or jewelry, I’m not suggesting you do any of those things just pointing out there are outside-the-box ways to get money.
It’s easier to follow the status quo, tell yourself what should be, and completely give up on advice that doesn’t apply to you. Just tailor the advice to your own situation, give up what you should in favor of the overall financial health, and take advantage of opportunities that might not seem like opportunities.
But that’s what being resourceful is all about, and without resourcefulness, personal finance rules are indeed useless.