Missing meals is pretty extreme, and I am the first person to admit that for some people, the situation is extreme and it does call for sacrifices such as missing meals. I am very fortunate that I am not in that situation.
However, I try to imagine myself in an extreme situation such as that, and imagine what I would do. Firstly, determine if I am actually in trouble.
- I would draw up a very detail map of where our spending is. Currently, we have a pretty good idea of where our money are going but we don't have a precise knowledge of where they are. By having a very precise view, we are counting the very last cent and accounting for its spending. The tools to accomplish an notebook to take a note of all your spending, and strict discipline to ensure that a log of the spending is kept. Every cent has to be accounted for!
- From the detail plan, I would classify which of the spending are "must have", "should have" and "nice to have". Food, rental and utility bills falls into "must have". Newspaper and the morning coffee at Gloria Jeans are "nice to have".
- Evaluate the items in the "must have" to ensure that it is actually a "must have".
- Work out what income we have to pay for the "must have" expenses.
- If the income coming in does not cover the expenses, we are in deep trouble.
- Inform the creditors that we are having problem paying the bills as early as possible, and attempt to negotiate a better deal. This is a definite must for the creditors providing the "must have" products and services.
- Inform the family that there are going to be some tough time ahead, and prepare themselves for the tough times. However, tell them that there is a plan in place and I am committed to meeting the plan.
- Looking into supplementing the current income, probably with a second job.
- Over the recovery period, keep evaluating the items under the "must have". If the items ever get classified as a "should have" or a "nice to have", we are going to stop doing it.
- The most important part, have a time frame which you can get out of trouble. An open ended plan is difficult to achieve as there isn't any targets to aim for.
At the end of the day, I can not begin to even appreciate the situations some of the families are going through and coming to a decision that they are going to miss a meals here and there.
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