Banks Aren’t Everything When It Comes to Personal Finances

It’s unfortunate to see so many people living their whole lives under the assumption that banks exhaust their supply of options for dealing with their personal finances. In many cases, there are lots of alternatives available that you need to consider carefully, especially if you are in a more unusual financial situation that calls for a special approach. Even if you’re not sure if that applies to you, it’s still a good idea to take a look at what the market has to offer beyond banks. Because in most cases, you’re likely going to find at least one or two options that can improve your situation significantly, especially when it comes to borrowing money.

Credit Unions

Credit unions get a lot of praise, both in the US as well as in the UK, and for a good reason – they bring a lot to the table for the average consumer, and offer a huge potential for improving most people’s situations, at least compared to what a bank has to offer. At the same time, they aren’t that strict with regards to who is allowed to join them, and even if you think that you will not be eligible for joining the credit union of your choice, you still don’t lose anything from at least giving it a try. Worst case, you’ll at least get some pointers for places which might be more appropriate for your current financial situation. Most credit unions are very helpful in this regard, even when you are not their customer.

Private Services

There are also private services on the market that can provide you with assistance in various situations, and it’s a good idea to study them and find out what they have to offer so that you are prepared when you actually need to use them one day. Lending is a common example of this – there are lots of options for private loans, regardless of your credit standing and many of them can be more attractive than what your bank has to offer. Sometimes the conditions are not that good, but the eligibility requirements may be much more relaxed to compensate for that. In any case, definitely check out what your local lending market has to offer, and keep an eye on those deals in the long term as well.

Personal Help

Friends and family can also be very helpful when you’re dealing with financial trouble, and even though it comes with some strings attached, getting this kind of help might be exactly what you need to get out of a difficult situation in some cases. Definitely don’t underestimate the potential for help here, and make sure that you reach out when you feel like you’re struggling to keep up with your life in its current state. It might turn out that people around you are more willing to help you out than you think, and they may even be willing to completely overlook the bad aspects of your situation and simply extend their assistance regardless of what you’re going through.


This should go without saying, but if you have any significant amounts of savings, you should not disregard that account either. It’s a good idea to keep your savings in constant check, and ensure that you have them available when you really need to use them. Sometimes you might need some advance preparation if you want to dip into your savings – for example, you might be limited to a specific date for withdrawing from that account. In other cases, you will have to come up with an urgent plan for recovering the money you’ve lost, because you might have very little time to make up for the difference, depending on how your savings actually work.

Investments and More

And then there are the more complex options available on the market, like investment plans. Investing might seem like something that isn’t for everyone, and is only limited to those who know their way around the financial market. And while it’s true that it requires a good deal of knowledge in general, it’s definitely not an exclusive, limited idea that only a select few have access to. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to get started with investing in most cases, and as long as you have a good idea of what you’re trying to accomplish and what your finances currently look like, you should be able to profit a lot from the current state of the market. Remember though – this is a game with ups and downs. You have to be prepared to deal with some more annoying developments from time to time, and you need to learn to roll with the punches.

continue reading

How to Sense When Your Finances need Addressing

People often have the tendency to get careless about their personal finances as long as there are no immediate, pressing issues, and only pay attention to things when they really get tough. However, that can lead to a multitude of problems, and as you’re probably guessing, it’s not a very sustainable approach in the long term. You have to develop a sense for when things are going wrong, and you must ensure that you always maintain control over the situation even when it seems like things are slipping out of your reach. Keep in mind that some issues need more time to be addressed properly too, so getting on top of them early on is going to be important.

The Warning Signs

The warning signs are going to vary from person to person, and you have to learn to recognize them in your own environment if you want to prevent problems from happening in the future. Paying attention to the current state of your finances is important in this regard, and you have to make it a point to learn from your past mistakes and integrate that knowledge into your future actions. There is often a lot that you can do to sense that something is not going right, and you have to pay active thought to these factors in the beginning, until you’ve developed the “gut instinct” to detect them passively. After that, it will be much easier to figure out when something is going wrong.

Prior Experiences

That brings us to a very important point. You’re going to gain a lot of experience along the way, and it’s important that you actually integrate it into your future actions. This is what many people get wrong, and why you often see people running into all kinds of issues that seem as if they should have been preventable. The truth is that they often are – but people don’t really pay much attention to the warning signs until it’s too late, and never bother to try learning anything from the whole ordeal either. Bad things can happen to anyone, even if you’re prepared for them. What will separate you from the rest is how you respond to those situations, and what you end up learning from them – if anything.

What to Do When a Problem Is Approaching

So, you know that you’ve got a problem on the horizon. Now what? You have to take some steps to prepare yourself of course, and you mustn’t let that situation devolve into something even more serious. And this comes down to using your available resources to their full potential. When you know that you’ve got a problem coming up, line up everything that you know you can use to deal with it, and rank those assets according to their specific usefulness in this particular situation. You’ll often find that you have more to work with than it seems at first.

How to Stay Prepared in Advance

Preparing ahead of time is always important if you want to minimize the impact of those developments on your life, because even if you have lots of resources available, you may not always be able to utilize them in time if you haven’t prepared in advance. You might be able to benefit a lot from taking out a loan, from example. But if you don’t have the right knowledge about the current state of the lending market in your area, and don’t know who you can turn to for that, this can complicate things a lot. Having to search for the right lender on short notice is never fun, and it can force you into some decisions that you might regret later on.

How Long Will It Last?

You must estimate how long this situation is going to last as well, and plan around that accordingly. It’s not rare that you’ll have access to quite a lot of information about the current problem that you’re facing, enough to give you a good perspective of what you can expect down the road. And it’s a good idea to pay attention to that and try to make some predictions about how things are going to play out. Because this will allow you to use your resources to their full potential, and to invest them in places that really matter. Otherwise, you might fall for the common mistake of overspending in places that don’t critically need attention right now, or focusing too little on other, actually important ones.

continue reading