Self-Help: Surviving With No Money
c. 2008 Cricket Diane C Phillips, (and Mom), 2008 (used with permission)
Okay! Now you've found yourself in a financial mess, what do you do?
After awhile, when a new job or other financial opportunity hasn't been
located, there are definite, tangible events that will take place.
First, any of the moneys that have been set aside or were available to
handle things until new income sources are found, will sooner or later get
Second, time will pass. It may be days, weeks, months and maybe longer,
but time will pass.
Third, and this is serious - needs will continue, whatever they are.
The solutions that were generated to satisfy these needs were likely based
on money. That is good until there gets to be less money than it takes to
have those needs met.
So, now that you are at this point, there are some steps you can take:
1. Make a list of personal assets -
Do not skip this step. You will need it as you work through the
other steps. People have all kinds of abilities. Some are used in their
jobs and some are not. It is very important to know what they are at the
earliest possible stage of this process.
This list of personal assets is an ongoing list, as you think of other
items, add them to the list. Start with the obvious; such as, you show up
when you are expected, you care about doing something about the situation in
which you are living, and, that you have held jobs before and done well in
them. Make the list of as many items as you can think of, try to list at
least 25 -50 assets, so that you have a lot of things to work with to get
out of this temporary situation. If you work at it diligently, it will be a
temporary situation, not a permanent one..
Keep this list where you will see it fairly regularly on the bathroom
mirror, taped on the inside of the kitchen cabinet, or in your sock drawer.
It will save your sanity in so many ways that you will be surprised.
If you have two or more individuals of money-making age in your
household, have everyone make their lists, place the list where the
individuals that belong to them can see them.
2. Take stock of available assets –
Look around for stuff that can be sold. It can be collected
physically into one specific space, like the garage or a spare room. You
could put a box in a room or a box in several rooms and add stuff to the box
as you find it and price it, then it will be ready to be sold in a yard or
garage sale. You could make a list as you look around and locate things
that can be sold to get some money to get through this phase of your life.
If you have bought something recently, you will probably be able to
take it back and get your money back. Always save receipts.
If you have things that can be sold, you might want to advertise in the
Thrifty Nickel, on Ebay, Craigslist or other internet sites. If you have
collectibles, you can go to the library and look up the magazines that are
about collectors and collections. There are also magazines for collectors
at book stores, such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books a Million.
There are places to sit where you can sit down and browse through the books
and magazines. There is usually a list of ads in the back of the book for
people who are looking for items for their collections. Hopefully, someone
will be looking for something that you have; and, you will be able to sell
it to them.
There are also books, such as Kovels that give the going price of
antiques and books that show the price of collectibles. The library might
have some books that would be helpful. Some are only located in the reference
Consider assets that could be redeemed, such as life insurance
policies, stocks, jewelry, expensive cars to trade in or sell, boats,
vacation properties, cemetery plots, or extra things that you can live
Cars and boats need to be advertised or put in a popular place with a
sign on them, and sold by owner. That way you save any commissions that
would be charged by a company.
If you sell your vehicle with a for sale sign, you save the money for
the ad in the newspaper. When you sell it, make sure to cancel your
insurance and make sure the ownership transfer is signed and filed.
If you sell a house or condo, make sure that you are never responsible
for the property in the future. This will require additional paper work.
Possibly as simple as writing up an agreement that you have no further
responsibility for the property and get it signed by the lenders and buyers.
Make sure the papers are notarized.
Some grocery stores, banks, and other places notarize free or very
Make sure that you make copies to give to all the parties. Keep the original
and keep it in a fireproof box in a safe place. Always keep originals or if an
original has to be submitted, then have two signed and notarized and keep
one, as well as, a couple of copies.
List stuff considered collectibles, gold, silver, stamps, other
valuables, antiques, old coins, art deco furniture and objects, character
items, dolls. cooky cutters, old pipes, bells, old glass, sheet music,
books, especially first editions and signed books, silverware, old glass,
baseball cards and other collectible cards, toys, art, salt shakers,
ceramics, china and porcelain.
Try to find a collector or a private party, otherwise if you sell
through or to a dealer you lose at least 30-60%. Dealers pay less than
others for coins, antiques and everything else. They have expenses, such
as, rent and utilities. They have to make a profit in order to stay in
business. If you have anyone come to your house to look at your items for
sale, make sure that you have someone at home with you. Make sure that you
aren't talking to one person while another is taking stuff out behind your
There are consignment shops where some items can be placed. This will
cost a percentage or a fee for renting the space. If you rent a space, you
will probably need a resale number and a business license. These cost
money; and, you have paper work to keep up with. If you can get an antique
shop to take your items for a percentage, then it won't cost you anything if
the item doesn't sell. Make sure that you have a paper stating the
agreement between the antique dealer and you. It needs to be signed by you
and the antique dealer, the date and the date that the item is to be picked
up, with what the item is, how much it is to be sold for, and how much you
will owe or what percentage when the item is sold and no fee if the item is
For more valuable collectibles and specialty collectibles, there are
conventions and trading shows where you can network for interested parties
or trade / sell at the show. It is expensive to rent a space at a trade
show; but, you might be able to get someone who has a booth to also show
your product for a small fee that would help them offset the huge fee that
they have to pay to be in the trade show.
The best prices may be outside the show, either afterwards by
arrangement, or letting interested buyers know of where it will be on
auction and when. Give out your email address to those who show an interest
If you don't have anything to sell, save as much money as you can and
go to yard sales and get inexpensive items that you can sell for more money.
Then take that money and buy more to sell. Keep using the profits to buy
other things and sell them, until you start seeing a way out of your
3. Find who wants to buy what and where are they?
Figure out how to let them know what you have for the most advantageous
return to you.
Is the best way to auction it online or at an auction house somewhere?
Antiques usually go lower at an auction. So, if you go the auction
route, you might want to set a minimum price, see if there is a charge for
this. Find out if they have a premium price that buyers or sellers have to
pay. Find out all the charges that you have to pay before you auction
something off; so, you won't be surprised and end up with less money that
you thought that you would get. Get everything in writing if you can.
Most physical auction houses are listed online for your area with their
address, phone number and contact person. Many are listed in the phone book
and other buyers at the auction will sometimes tell you about other places
where auctions are taking place.
Is it better to find individual collectors through "want to buy" ads,
online, in newspapers, or on auction sites?
It could be possible that collectors have websites filled with
information for their members, where items could also be offered for sale.
Many of these online sites have places to list items for sale or trade among
its members. Often there is no cost to become a member.
4. Discover what other resources are nearby, in the community and
Check bulletin boards at the library, grocery stores, car repair
places, community centers, colleges, SBA (small business administration),
churches and social services offices. Some agencies have community
resources booklets, see if you can locate one and get a copy.
Ask around about what kinds of things might be available to help with
If you can find bulletin boards, use them to advertise what you have
to sell. If you need a job put an ad on the internet and bulletin boards,
include what kind of job that you are looking for. The courts have lots of
jobs that are not advertised, such as, typing tapes of court testimony,
delivering documents, filing papers for attorneys. Go to, or call city hall
and ask where jobs bulletins are posted - same for county and state offices.
You can look up jobs on the internet and in newspapers, most have internet
Hospitals have people typing up charts and putting patient info on the
computer. In the hospital administration offices, there is usually a
bulletin of job postings. Don't be embarrassed, call somebody until you
find out what you want to know. You have nothing to lose and everything to
gain. You don't have a job now, so if you don't get one, you are no worse
off, if you get one, you are on the way.
You could get a paper route for a temporary solution to buy food for
you and your family if you have transportation.
Malls have job bulletins posted in the hall by their main offices and
their development / management companies have jobs, too. There are also
subcontractors that serve the mall's needs which are often hiring without
placing these jobs in the newspaper.
5. Check government and social services access - find out what and
where it is available -
Ask at churches for information about what is available through them
and if they know about other resources in the community. Ask at union halls
for information and check their bulletin boards, also. Some listings to sell
items or for needs can be listed in union newsletters and on their members'
Go to the library or on a computer and look up government grants, maybe
there are some that you could pursue. There are books in the reference
section of the library that list all the grants available through
government, public and private sources.
6. What ideas are sitting on the shelf that could be used to create a
* What needs are obvious in the local community that a business could
serve and make a profit.
* There are many books in the library to help create your business. They
include checklists, how-to and what types of businesses work the best.
Find out what the local government wants for a business license and go
make money serving the needs in your community as a business.
7. Learn to make healthy inexpensive meals for your family -
* Things like cans of tuna or salmon can be put with noodles or made into
a casserole and add a vegie, maybe a can of peas. or a salad and you have a meal.
* Potatoes are usually inexpensive for a bag. A potato can be baked in an oven for about an
hour at 450 degrees or until done, or baked in a microwave for 6-8 minutes,
or until it kind of crumbles when you push on it. Potatoes can be sliced
and fried in a little bit of butter or oil. They can get fried with onions,
broccoli, carrots, squash, zucchini. You can add ham or some meat or eggs to
the stir fry and it puts protein into the mix. You need fruits and veggies, as
well as protein and carbo's.
* You can't live on ramens and peanut butter over a long period of time
and stay healthy and have good judgment. It is absolutely necessary to have
protein, fruit and calcium each day for every member of the family. It is more
important than paying the credit card bill, more important than getting some fast
food because you want it and more important than running across town twice when
once can do both things at the same time.
* Oatmeal, the kind that you cook could provide a healthy inexpensive
Breakfast. Add banana and milk and it also provides calcium and potassium.
* Eggs and toast make an inexpensive meal. There are usually discount
bread stores that you can get bread less expensive than at the grocery
store. If you can get a couple of extra loaves of bread and store them in
the freezer or the refrigerator, the bread should last longer.
* There are grocery stores such as Save A Lot, that have canned
vegetables and fruits that are very inexpensive and they are good. Most do
not include extra salt or sugar in them.
* You can take cans of vegs, and tomato juice, potatoes, carrots, celery,
onions, cans of mixed vegs and make a great veg soup, If you want veg/beef
soup, just add a can or two of roast beef, such as Armour roast beef in the
fat short cans, chop the meat sideways to keep it from being stringy. Cook
until the potatoes are done. It is good reheated the next day and for
however long it lasts. You can serve crackers or cornbread with the soup.
or small cornbread johnny cakes--put about a cup or two of cornmeal mix in
a bowl, add enough milk to moisten it and drop by spoonfuls in hot oil or
butter and fry. Turn when one side is done. These cook quickly
Many stores have double Sunday papers for $2.50 on Sunday afternoons.
A single Sunday paper is $2.00, so it is a better deal to get two if you are
going to use the coupons; because, you get twice the coupons. When you clip
coupons, only use the ones for items you need and use, unless it is free or
Rebate forms can be used to get cash back or products.
8. Make a brief list of things you really need right now -
For things that you need there is Free Cycle across the country. In
Cobb county, you join freecycle Cobb. You have to join online and then
donate something; then you can ask for things that you need.
Also available - you can list items for trade or barter on craigslist
or place listing for items you need and what you will trade or that you are
looking to buy it reasonably.
* Find out what assets that you have and what they are worth. It might
not be advisable to redeem them because you lose money and won't have them
later if you need them. However, what you need to do now, you will do; and,
you are capable of working with your assets in the best way possible.
Between couples whose finances are intertwined - all these matters
need to be considered jointly and openly with one another throughout the
process. What you sell affects others in your family - be open about it and why.
9. As a last resort -
If you can get SSI, there is less government involvement in your life
than having to go through a case worker at social services. Food stamps
might also be available for your situation, usually through family and
children services even if you are a single person.
Sometimes there is an unearned tax refund. Check with IRS. If there
is money available take advantage of it. If you paid taxes and are due a
refund, make sure that you file the proper forms and get that to which you
If you are raising grandchildren you should be able to get kinship care
If you get SSI, the children may also qualify for it.
SSI applications are made through the Social Security Administration
office. There is an appeals process that is commonly necessary before
receiving it but not always. Application processes take several months.
There are food banks in your community. Expect to take identification and proof of
your income or lack thereof, possibly utility bills and rent receipts.
For necessary medicines, some of the pharmaceutical companies are
helping with that. Check with your doctor, pharmacist, church, social worker
or online by name of manufacturer, name of drug. There is a program for
low-cost, sliding scale and possibly free medications for those in need that
is being run by the pharmaceutical companies.
Practice this sentence, " Doctor, do you have any samples?"
Wal Mart and some other pharmacies have a list of generic medicines
for only $4.00. See if there is a medicine that is on the list that will do the same thing
that a more expensive drug would cost and have your doctor prescribe that medicine.
10. Some important notes about where you are now -
* BUYING ON SALE DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE MONEY YOU SAVED!
- Buying on sale does not give you the money you saved unless the item is
critical to your survival and at a price and quantity you can use right now.
* Beans alone are not a sufficient protein source - when you think of
protein for each day - this means, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beef, pork,
tuna, salmon, etc. They are expensive and without them, you and your family
won't survive the stresses ahead of you. Beans and rice make a complete
protein when eggs, chicken or beef are added to them.
* When you get down - and it seems hopeless - make a list of 25 things you
are grateful for - start the list with this one - write it down:
1. "I am glad we have toilet paper."
If you don't have that, then you're really going to have to think of
something to start your list. And, make the list anyway. Then, get on with
it because a new world of discovery awaits you and your family as you make
this journey. It is a process and each part holds new things to learn, to
explore and new possibilities and opportunities. You have the good sense you
need - use it.
PRAY. GOD HOLDS THE UNIVERSE IN HIS HANDS, YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO HIM.
PRAY And - Take the actions you need to take as intelligently as you can.
Written by Cricket Diane C Phillips and Mom on 3-12-08
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