Photo: Marc Royce
You may be feeling every bit as stuck as Erin was. If so, do what she did: Don't just talk about changing—actually change. Here's how:
1. Ask for help. Maybe you've got a financially savvy friend—ask her how she does it. Or maybe you've been shouldering the family bills alone—ask your partner to help you brainstorm better solutions. But...
2. Know that ultimately you have to fix things. Erin was considering bankruptcy—she just wanted the problem to go away. Many people fall into that pattern of thinking. Reality check: The problem isn't going anywhere. So will you retreat in fear? Ignore it? No. You will take charge and make things right.
3. Accept that you will always face obstacles. Maybe your issues aren't as extreme as the Masons', but we all have financial concerns. I'm not asking you to be perfect with your money. I'm asking you to be prepared for whatever stumbling blocks you may face.
4. Make the hard choices. I know it's tough to cut the small luxuries when you're strapped—you can't swing a big vacation, so shouldn't you get to have that $100 cable package? Not if you can't afford it. That might seem harsh, but I promise, when you embrace change, your courage will be rewarded.
Next: How Suze Orman repaired one family's finances
From the September 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine