Meeting Needs, High Priority Wants, and Wants

So, you’ve got your prioritized list of needs, high priority wants, and wants from Day 12. For Day 13 of 31 Days to a Better Bank Balance, we’re going to talk about what happens when you don’t have enough money to meet those things.

Of course, bringing in more money is an excellent option, but we’ll talk about doing that more another day. For now, let’s focus on a worse-case scenario: you’ve lost your job and can’t find another one.

First, you should take care of the items on your list in order of priority. (And you should have been doing that anyway.) Having basic groceries beats paying debt, even if that debt is your mortgage. That’s because you’ll die if you don’t get food on a regular basis.

Paying your mortgage beats paying your credit cards, if you have to choose. Better to have somewhere to live than happy credit card companies. But a new DVD or new carpet doesn’t beat anything, unless all of the needs and high priority wants have been taken care of. You get the picture.

But a job loss is a scary situation, and most people panic at least a little, especially as we feel more and more desperate. (I should know — it took me years to find a new job once.) So you’ve got to have alternatives.

Ask most people what they would do if they lost their jobs and needed money, and most answers will include variations of these things: cut spending, use savings, raid the 401k, and borrow money for essentials if things get desperate.

The thing is, to get out of debt and stay out of debt, you’ve got to cut “borrow money” out of the list of available options. Yes, even if you’ve lost your job.

It simply cannot be an option, which means you need a big list of other options to turn to in desperate situations.

So for today, take a few minutes to brainstorm additional options. Get extreme about it even. One of my ideas once included, “Grandma and Grandpa have a lot of canned goods in their storeroom. I could ask if they minded if I ate some of those.”

So let’s brainstorm additional options in the comments. I’ll add to the list as well.


  • Hmmm…some ideas:

    -Move in with mom or dad or friends or rent a room. For homeowners, this could provide a decent cushion.

    -Sell all your crap. This would go hand in hand with the above if there’s a space issues to moving.

    -Join a timebank to meet some of your needs and feel useful. It doesn’t require money!

    -Volunteer at several places. It’ll boost your chances of landing a job.

    -Go on public assistance.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment, outside of the usual “get rid of your cell phone” etc.

  • I agree with all the above mentioned ideas. This situation you mentioned is the reason I wrote In The Trenches – Financial Survival During Times of Hardship. Not only do decisions need to be made but they need to be made soon enough to make a positive difference. The longer the situation continues the less options are available and the greater the consequences. The book offers worksheets to do some planning and brainstorming and there is a link on my website for free worksheets.