What to do When Simply Saving and Working Isn’t Getting the Job Done

You read them every day: those articles that list crazy or extreme methods for saving money. They say things like “don’t buy anything new for a year” and “cook all of your meals at home.” You read them and you sigh because that’s not extreme, that’s your everyday life.

To you, the dollar menu is a decadent treat and, in spite of all of your efforts you don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Your debt isn’t reducing the way you’d hoped. Your paychecks aren’t stretching as far as you’d like. You feel guilty using even a simple savings plan. So what do you do?

Time to Start Selling

Everything you own is a potential source of cash. Seriously. So: ask yourself how much you truly need on hand to survive and then sell the rest. It seems crazy but remember: books, clothing, furniture–it can all be replaced later when you’ve reached your goals.

Sell Your Car. Yes, seriously. Even if your car is used or old you can probably still get at least a couple thousand dollars for it and that should make at least a sizeable dent in your debt. Use part of the sale to buy a good bicycle. Sure you might be pedaling a long way, but think of it as your morning workout. When the weather is bad, pack your work clothing into a weatherproof bag and change into them when you get to work.

Sell Your House. You’re already downsizing your stuff, why not downsize your house for an apartment? Apartments are cheaper and easier to clePocket Moneyan and maintain. Because they are smaller, the utilities you do have to pay are often much cheaper than you’d pay at your house. You can use the sale of the house to pay off what you still owe on it and then put the rest toward your debt.

Debt Consolidation

By now, it’s time to be honest with yourself: managing your debt and savings plan on your own isn’t working the way you’d hoped it would. It’s time to bring in a professional. There are a lot of people who will warn you against debt consolidation. They will say that it can wreak havoc with your credit. Here’s the truth: consolidating your debts makes them easier to pay off. A professional debt consolidator will also be more effective at negotiating down balances owed and interest rates.

The key to debt consolidation is to work with a non-profit agency. Non-profits get their money through grants and other programs so you won’t have to worry that the money you pay to them will be used to line a CEO’s pocket.


Bankruptcy is often considered “the nuclear option.” This is because, until filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy became more common, most people had to file Chapter 7. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy requires you to liquidate the vast majority of your assets (save for clothing, home furnishings and “the tools of ycompound interestour trade”) to help pay off as much of your debt as possible before wiping out whatever is left. This meant that people declaring bankruptcy often were forced to find housing, etc while the declaration was still fresh. Yikes!

Today, chapter 13 is much more common. It is is the “kinder, gentler, bankruptcy.” In California, by filing chapter 13 bankruptcy, you get to keep your assets protected, so there is no risk of losing your home, car or personal belongings. It is still an option that is best left until you have no others, but it doesn’t have to be the disaster that you might imagine. This is helped by the fact that, thanks to the economic crash in ‘08, more people have declared bankruptcy than ever before; it is almost common now.

The point is: don’t give up! Even if saving and work aren’t helping you reach your financial goals, you still have options. These are just some of them. What are some others you can try?