icon of two gears to show concept of expanded lessons Expanded Lesson 5 min read

Money Planning When Income is Tight

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The steps below are designed to help you create a financial plan and give you access to helpful resources.
Focused family couple discussing monthly expenses, calculating utility bills, mandatory payments, rent charges, sitting together at home. Concentrated married spouse using computer bank applications.

1. List All Income and Expenses

Start by gathering your financial statements. Use those to create a list of all the money you make (after taxes) and the money you spend each month. If relevant to you, include emergency cash, tax refund and CARES Act relief payment (stimulus check). 

2. Evaluate Priorities

Identify your needs vs. wants. Do you have enough money to pay for all of them? Calculate how long you will be able to pay your bills. This is when prioritizing, or deciding what bills to pay first, may be necessary. Shelter should always be top priority, followed by groceries.

Graphic summarizing example of needs and wants. In this step, identify the things you need, like housing, food, transportation, utilities, internet and cell phone. Also identify the things you want but don't need, like take out, subscription services, entertainment and electronics.


3. Contact Lenders and Understand Relief Options

Contact your lenders to see how they can help. You may be able to skip a payment or find other forms of financial relief.

When contacting lenders, make sure you provide the following information:

  • Your current financial and employment situation

  • How much you can afford to pay

  • When you may be able to restart regular payments (also make sure to cancel automatic payments as you create new arrangements with lenders)

  • Your income, expenses and assets

  • Your credit information (ask the lender if any arrangements will affect your credit)

4. Re-evaluate, Document and Plan

Continue to monitor your spending plan. As additional funds become available through payment arrangements, make sure to put those funds toward other expenses or savings.

To-Do List

5. Ask for Help

If you are struggling financially, you are not alone! Don't be afraid to reach out with questions or ask for help. Ent’s financial coaching partner, GreenPath, can assist you with a plan and can speak to your creditors to find out if they have additional options to consider.