What if you've gone through the first five steps and you can' t free up enough money to start repaying your debts in a big way? Then you have three choices. You can consider whether the big-ticket items in your life—your home, your cars, private schools—are truly necessary. You can go through your home and your possessions and see if there's anything of value to sell. You can earn more money, either on your current job or—more likely—by taking on a second one. The other alternatives? Credit counseling and bankruptcy—but you're not there yet. For now, let's see what you can accomplish on your own.
Here are some options you may want to consider.
Moving. Is your housing sabotaging your ability to make ends meet? It is for a lot of people. During the last decade or so, we were so afraid that if we didn't buy right now we'd be priced out of the only neighborhood we wanted to live in. It may be that selling your house is a solution you have to consider. Yes, the conventional wisdom is that your house is the asset you'll retire on (and often retire in)—the most valuable asset in your portfolio. But unless you can afford to make the payments, it's also the one that can be your Achilles heel. Perhaps you can trade down—swapping a larger house for something more manageable and less expensive. You also may need to consider renting for a while. As long as you can keep the cost of moving reasonable (recruit your friends), renting will save you the cost of homeowner's insurance. (You'll need renters insurance, but it's much cheaper.) You'll save on yard care and—depending on where you relocate—may be able to cut your commuting costs as well.
Going carless. There probably is—if you dig down deep and consider it—another, less-expensive way for you to get back and forth to work each day. Could you get by without a car for a while? That wouldn't only save you the cost of paying for the car itself and it's upkeep, but for gasoline, auto insurance, parking. And if you can't go carless, how about trading in your pricey car for one that runs just fine but is used and less luxurious.
Putting your children in public school. The thought of moving their children from one school to another is often overwhelming to parents. If you're not willing to do that, how about applying for financial assistance from your current school?
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