Need Financial Advice

Updated on July 02, 2010
A.C. asks from Reston, VA
16 answers

Really quickly, we are in serious financial trouble. We are severely in debt (for reasons in the past, not our lifestyle), we do not make enough to pay our monthly bills, we do not live indulgently, we have NO savings. We own our home and have already refinanced so we are paying much lower on our mortgage. We are smart, educated people but I don't know how to get out of this one. I need advice on what you do to save and make ends meet. Thanks.

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So What Happened?

I will take a look at Dave Ramsay. I should also let you know that we only purchase necessities -groceries and gas and repairs when needed. We also spend money on sitters as we are involved with the community and have events to attend. We pay much less for a sitter than most people in the area. There is no clothes budget, period. We get things from consignment, yard sales, freecycle if we need them. I have been largely unsuccessful at selling things (have done yard sales, craigslist and ebay.) We can not move to a smaller place, our home is full, with children sharing rooms. Like I said, we are doing all the "right" things but I need concrete ways in which you save money. Thanks mamas!

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answers from Portland on

I've heard Dave Ramsay recommended by so many folks, his advice must be good. Even my daughter and son-in-law, who are not financially at risk, love his advice.

If you're being hounded by creditors, do look into financial counseling services. You can get good assistance for free. Do NOT sign up with anyone who will charge you for this service.

Good luck. You sound sane and responsible.



answers from Kansas City on

I'm with all the others...Dave Ramsey is the way to go! Best thing my husband and I ever did together!! Best of luck to you!!!

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answers from Miami on

Dear A.,

I am a financial advisor licensed in Florida and Virginia (we live in Ft. Lauderdale but also in Alexandria, VA). If you are not making enough to cover your bills, then the answer is simple. You need to either increase your income or decrease your expenses. I would start by creating a realistic budget - write down what your current income is from all sources and then you need to address your expenses. If you are uncertain of your expenses, then a great way to keep track is to write down everything you spend for 30 days - then put in items that you pay for quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

I would be happy to answer any specific questions if you want to message me directly.

Best wishes,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

I took a leap and started working from home. You can begin to bring in an extra few hundred dollars a month quickly if you are teachable. The business can work around your schedule if you are already working outside of the home. Contact me if this is something you want to learn more about.

Also, are you tithing? It makes a difference..





answers from Washington DC on

Think of bills that aren't necessities (i.e. cable, cell, internet, trade in a car and get a cheaper used one, perhaps don't be so involved in the community, go on free dates with your spouse, don't eat out, etc). Dave Ramsay is GREAT! highly recommend.


answers from Dover on

All of the ideas that others have posted seem right on. Another idea may be to sign up with Work At Home United. You can work your own business from home on your own time. No investment and no risk. It is great as a source of supplemental income and for those that wish to make it their only income, it is great for that too.

If you are interested, let me know and I can provide the details and get you started. My website is .

Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Dave Ramsey will give you the actual verbiage on how to deal with creditors. I highly recommend getting his book from the library (no cost). Something else to consider is getting a part time job. Don't start saving yet & don't contribute to 401k, etc till the debt is paid. Can you live with one car? Cut out internet, cable, cell phones.

If you can take the class that would be even better. If you go to his website you put in your zip code & class sites will pop up. Best wishes



answers from Los Angeles on

There are lots of ways to save. All it takes is to open your mind to different ways of doing things. Many questions on this subject have been asked and answered on this site. Look them up, read and learn. Then do.

Eliminate magazine substriptions. Drop pay TV channels, like HBO. Stop the newspaper. Drop/quit the country club membership(s). Eat frugally. Grow a garden. Don't go to the beauty parlor. Reduce the makeup. Cut his hair instead of him going to the barbershop. Turn off the A/C at night and open the windows. Turn on the A/C during the day only as needed. Get some stryofoam insulation and cut them to size to fit your windows on the inside. Put them in the windows of the rooms you don't use or don't use very often. The styrofoam will increase the insulation and reduce the amount energy it takes to heat or cool the home. Don't buy premade desserts. Brown bag lunches. Don't eat out.

Buy a budget book and write down EVERYTHING you spend. You'll be amazed at how much money goes to the soda machine or the snack machine or that you spend on like items.

If you need more information, e-mail me. When you get your financial life in order, your goal should to be to save (and invest) 10% of your gross each month.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Washington DC on

We canceled cable and switched all our companies - like Internet, phone, etc and got better deals- business will give you cheaper prices if you call them - and do research on the cheapest for your area so you can haggle. Also, I started buying cheaper groceries - Walmart usually has overall good prices, but I also have tried Aldi's and other stores that have good deals - and always always always do a price comparison on every item every time! I used to get whatever groceries I needed/wanted, but ten I realized I was buying items that I always buy instead of the better deal - so for instance, I went to Bloom and needed to buy paper towels - I normally get Sparkle because they are usually the best deal - but they only had the white ones and I like designs, so I looked at the ones next to Sparkle and they were marked down....and had a pretty print on them - then I looked at the prices - the Sparkle 12 pack was $8 and the no-name brand with pretty print was only 90 cents! It was UNBELIEVABLE to me that they were a savings of $7 and they were the ones I wanted any way! And the same thing happened with the Mayo I bought for my potato salad...the Hellman's was $8 and the no-name brand was about $1.50! So with only 2 items I saved almost $14! It takes a few more minutes to do this with every item, but it is SO worth it!
Also - try reusing things - so instead of just using paper towels, I try to use towels instead - so they go a bit longer and I am not using instead of the drop-in bottles, I use the plastic ones and just wash them.
Also - I think it was Dave Ramsey that said to pay of the smallest card first and then use that payment to add to the bigger card and so on....
We also traded in our cars and got cheaper payments....but it is even more practical now - we had a new Highlander but got a used Sienna and it was a great deal....
Good luck....keep us posted on how it is going!!



answers from New York on

Dave Ramsey has a great idea on financial advice. check out his website. He is awesome to learn from.



answers from San Antonio on

Dave Ramsey would encourage you to work second jobs to pay off your debt. If you are on this board, however, it means that you have children, so maybe just one of you should. I really reccomend his program.

Something that works for discipline is to take your entire earnings and put it in envelopes for each budget line (rent gets $800, food $500, entertainment would be about empty at this point) and only spend cash. But you do have to realize that absolutely NO entertainment or extras will be bought. If your clothing envelope gets $20/mo you shop at Goodwill. No buts about it.

Every last discretionary penny has to go toward paying off debt.

Now, if your monthly payments are actually bigger than your income minus fixed expenses, then it is time to sell the house, the car, the contents of your house (sofas, dining tables and everything. You can get another table used or live in an empty house). I know Americans think they "deserve' more than that, but no one deserves more than they can afford. We have no debt other than our home, never have bought so much as a car on credit (cash only!) and we did not have sofas for the first 6 months we lived in our home. We had only two beds (for 3 people) and a dining table that we paid cash for.

Cancel cable, netfix, gym memberships, even piano lessons for the kids. You can't afford them, period.

Sell everything you don't need to stay alive, use envelopes, sell your house and move some place cheaper, get rid of anything you are making payments on and get a second job. Is it easy? No. But it will work. IT is heartbreaking at first, I imagine, but I also think that being out of debt and out of want are really liberating things.

Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

Lots of good ideas here. Dave Ramsey is fabulous.

Also I hang the laundry on drying racks instead of using the dryer. I either use the dryer for 10 minutes right out of the washer to get rid of wrinkles then hang them, or hang them first & put them in the dryer when they're still slightly damp to finish drying & make them softer.

I work at CCCS (Consumer Credit Counseling Service) if credit cards are an issue. You can sit down with one of our financial counselors to discuss your situation and there's no charge for that. (Or over the phone since you're in VA.) We have a debt management program which is where the creditors will lower their interest rates and won't charge any more late fees or over limit fees. We have a monthly fee of $35 max for the program. Or, sometimes you can call your creditors directly and ask for a lower interest rate. If they won't then you can go thru an agency like ours. You can decide if it's worth $35/mo to have us deal with your creditors. It's what we do! : ) But bear in mind your accounts get closed either way. You can keep one card open for emergencies with us. We're at 800-642-2227 or



answers from St. Louis on

If you cannot increase your income, sell unneeded items and depending on how much debt you are in you might want to contact a lawyer to look into filing bankruptcy.



answers from San Antonio on

First, Take a deep breath in and let it out... repeat as necessary :)

SA Mamma is right about Dave Ramsey. His advice saved our home, our sanity and possibly our marriage. If you know someone who has his books/DVDs/program materials, borrow them. Dave Ramsey even tells us to freely share his advice and materials if we know someone who needs them. He has no problem with us copying pages and GIVING (not selling) them to others. He is the author of The Total Money Makover and Financial Peace University. It will be SUPER TIGHT for quite a while until you get back in control. If you slip up, like so many of us do, just start over every single time.

We are on board with Dave Ramsey, also. Go to the library and see if you can borrow a copy of The Total Money Makeover. We discovered Dave Ramsey's advice when our house was literally in risk of being foreclosed on. My husband talked to the mortgage company the day before our son was born and got us on a payment plan. Check your church or local churches for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It will not teach you how to get rich quick, but it will teach you how to turn your finance's around so that you are in control. We are a Cash-Only family now and even my kids tell people about Dave Ramsey.

First, Make sure your food, utilities and necessary clothing are taken care of. Then your house. Creditors (credit cards, vehicles, etc.) are NOT a priority right now. They DON'T get first dibs on your paycheck, YOU DO. List your creditors smallest amounts to largest amounts. If you have just $10 to send to the first creditor on you list, then that is all that gets paid on the list. You WILL eventually pay them all off. If you have a vehicle you can't pay on or owe more than it is worth, try to sell it privately for as much as you can and then pay the car note with what you get and scrape together what you need to pay off the rest. If you get more than you need, pay it towards your smallest loan so you can pay it off faster. Dave can explain why the smallest should be taken care of first AFTER necessities.

If you need a financial advisor or counselor, find one. DO NOT GO TO THE "WE CAN WORK WITH YOUR CREDITORS AND YOU ONLY PAY ONE MONTHLY PAYMENT" that you see on tv! They don't really save you money. They set up a payment plan, you give THEM the money each month that will be paid to each creditor AND they charge you a fee. It comes out to more than if you just paid the bills yourself. Dave can help you do it yourself. Go to and click on his ELP link to find an Endorsed Local Provider in your area. They are NOT employees of Dave Ramsey. They are financial advisors and coaches who follow Dave's advice and have proven themselves to have the best interest of their clients in mind.

You CAN do this and you are NOT alone!



answers from Denver on

I've heard many people recommend Dave Ramsey's books and program. Best of luck!



answers from Washington DC on

First, read Dave Ramsey's book - The Total Money Makeover; great resource! If you need a good financial planner, let me know; I know some great young guys that are incredibly sharp at what they do. Also, I found a company that can save you money on your everyday products, and they also pay you commission if you refer others to shop with them. Awesome residual, supplemental income. Happy to share more on this too. Good luck!

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