Our Family Budget

How To Write A Financial Hardship Letter (Sample Letter) : April 2019 Budget Update

At some point in our lives we may face financial hardship but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to overcome it.

What I’ve learned over the years from my readers is that where there’s a problem there’s also a solution especially with money.

If you’ve never had to write a financial hardship letter today I will show you how with a sample letter and some resources where you can seek support.

hardship letterA reader sent me an email asking me about financial hardship and how he could approach the people he owes money in hopes of having them evaluate the debt he owes.

I didn’t think it was a bad idea given the situation he was facing and that it wasn’t going to be permanent.

The worst thing you can do when you don’t have enough money in the bank to pay your debts is to ignore it.

Whether it be your credit card, mortgage, rent or any other loans you MUST make the minimum payment required. Sadly when it comes to rent or a mortgage payment there is no minimum it’s a fixed expense for your budget.

Defaulting on your mortgage payments can mean BIG consequences so writing a mortgage financial hardship letter is important.

Not paying your rent will get you evicted and possibly living homeless until you can find emergency shelter.

What is Financial Hardship?

Financial hardship is when your cash flow has been significantly impacted by certain events in your life and you simply can’t make ends meet no matter how hard you try.

You must exhaust all avenues for earning money or adding cash before reaching the end of the barrel , sort to speak.

You know you’ve reached financial hardship when there’s nowhere else to turn.

Perhaps your financial priorities have changed based on life events that need to be addressed.

Unforseen events such as death or divorce may be the sole reason for your financial hardship which can lead to missing your obligatory debt repayment.

Changes in employment status such as job loss, restructuring or even injury and health decline can all add to financial hardship that must be addressed.

When should you seek financial hardship support?

The moment anything affects your income is when you must evaluate your financial position.

This may mean reworking your budget or exploring your emergency savings to see how much time it will buy you.

The emergency savings is there to help buy you some time until you can get a plan of action in place or at least your Plan B.

I often tell my readers to never depend solely on emergency savings and to always have that extra plan in place just in case the worst happens.

Do you remember when I mentioned that my mother-in-laws bank account was frozen after her husband passed away last year?

Well, we made lots of phone calls to explain the financial hardship she was having in order to keep creditors in the loop.

They appreciated that.

Other financial hardship support;

  • Credit Counselling
  • Budget
  • Financial Advisor
  • Bank Support
  • Family or Friends
  • Consider Refinancing
  • Student Financial Aid Support

Contact everyone you owe money to that you can’t pay back and either talk to them or send them a financial hardship letter.

Make a deal with them to see if you can manage your finances with lowered interest rates or perhaps a lowered minimum payment until your situation changes.

Number one priority is to always let them know of your financial hardship.

Debt Reduction Spreadsheet

Earlier this year I created a debt reduction spreadsheet that you can personalize and print or keep on your computer to track paying down your debts.

If you are struggling with financial hardship one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to use a budget and track everything.

I know it sounds like a daunting task and it may be just that for someone who is not a numbers nerd like I am but it’s a must if you want to get your finances back on track.

There is one good thing about tracking your expenses in order to reduce them and that is you’re doing something about your debt using a visual.

Seeing your debt numbers vanish is probably one of the most happiest times for anyone who carries debt. I remember when we had our mortgage loan and how scary the numbers were with added interest over the years.

Once we set up and printed our pay-down chart it was nice to start crossing off payments in order to evaluate where we stood and how much further ahead we would be if we could crush even more debt.

In other-words doing and seeing are very important when it comes to your money. It’s all part of being a responsible adult and taking charge of how much you earn, where your money is going and keeping debt to a minimum if any at all.

Sample Financial Hardship Letter

Besides making a phone call you can also write a letter which is why I crafted a sample financial hardship letter for anyone who struggles with writing

Below is a financial hardship letter that I wrote and that you can use by downloading and saving the word document to your computer to edit.

I’ve kept it fairly simple so all you need to do is insert your financial hardship and personal information before sending it to the person in charge of your account.

Your Name

Street Address

City, Postal Code

Phone Number

Recipient Name

Street Address

City, Postal Code

Phone Number

Attn: (Insert Contact Person)

Date:

Re: Consolidating/Restructuring/Forgiveness for Debt related to Mortgage, School, Credit Card or other loan payment.

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m writing you today because I’ve fallen into financial hardship and am struggling to pay my debts back on time.

I’m hoping we can work together to help come up with a restructure of payment, consolidation or reduce my monthly payments to avoid going into default.

My financial problems began when (Insert problem here death, divorce, illness etc. but be very specific.) Since this time I’ve only had (insert how much money you get monthly) to work with each month that is being used in areas such as (insert where your money goes groceries, rent, daycare, other loans) and am struggling to balance my budget.

I am not trying to avoid my responsibility paying back my debt as I’m truly embarrassed by this situation but have no other choice but to seek financial relief.

If I can offer a suggestion that might help me balance my budget perhaps (insert suggestion or money amount you can afford) until my situation changes.

This amount would help me balance my monthly expenses and continue to pay back the money owed to you.

I look forward to discussing my options with you so please contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

(Your name here)

Get Ahead Of Your Debt

No matter where you stand financially always be ahead of your debt so you understand everything that is required by you even in emergency situations.

Financial hardship can be depressing but if you reach out to the people you owe they may give you some space or make arrangements to help keep you out of the bankruptcy office.

It’s a bad place to be but explore all your options and fear no one.

Discussion: Have you ever experienced financial hardship and how did you handle it? Leave me your comments below.

Money earned in April 2019

Monthly Budget Income Chart April 2019Where did all the money go?

One budget category that jumped for us in April was telecommunications as we upgraded to android boxes. The only problem is that we have 12 months of cable renewal with Rogers so we will cancel that next year and stay strictly with the android boxes.

Another big expense went to dental because Mrs. CBB needed a crown and will need another in May. That means another $600 charge. Her dentist also suggested invisalign braces to help with her clicking jaw and spaces.

Like most benefits ours covers $2500 lifetime for braces but I’m sure the grand total will be around the $5-7k mark.

Both Mrs. CBB and I reviewed our budget categories in April and updated each as prices have increased for most services related to our home.

We try to do this as often as possible but it’s easy to become lazy and view it as overage when in fact it’s the actual bill.

For example you might get a notice that your Rogers Cell phone bill will be going up by $5 so you must increase that number in your budget.

Next month we will see a huge increase in our insurance payments as we’ve taken a slightly different route with that as I will discuss in an upcoming blog post.

We will also see a decrease in our investments as I’ve had to stop my RRSP for 2019 to avoid over-payment which I will also discuss.

Overall it was a busy month and as most homeowners experience during the Spring and Summer lots of money ends up on home maintenance and renovations.

Again, if you are not saving monthly for projected expenses you may find you have to dip into your emergency savings or create debt if you haven’t saved the cash for the above.

How do you save money for renovations and maintenance to your home? (leave me a comment below)

Have a great month everyone. See you in June.

Mr.CBB

Budget percentages April 2019

April 2019 Household Percentages

Our savings of 52.75% includes investments as well as any savings for this month based on the income of $8609.89.

We put money away for the projected expenses for things that need to be paid for in the coming months.

All of the categories took 100% of our income which shows that we accounted for all of the income in the month of April.

Our monthly expenses

Below is a breakdown of our expenses which helps us to understand where all of our money goes.

Since May 2014 we’ve been mortgage free so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments and renovations.

I appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month but I do hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your own financial numbers as our situations are all unique.

Spending less than we earn and budgeting our money has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money. It may be different for you.

Monthly Budget Income Chart April 2019

  1. Chequing– This is the bank account where all of our debt gets paid from.
  2. Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account– This is a savings account that holds our projected expenses.
  4. Monthly Budgeted Total: $4904.02
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$8609.89
  6. (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $324.98
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$5622.27
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $8609.89 (total net monthly income) – $324.98 (projected expenses) –$2662.64 (savings to emergency fund) = $8609.89
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $8609.89 (total monthly net income) – $5622.27 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $324.98 (projected expenses) = $2662.64

Our budget results

Time for the juicy category numbers and to see how we made out with our monthly budget. Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget and the other is our actual budget for the month of March 2019.

This budget represents 2 adults and a toddler plus retirement investments.

Budget colour chart: If highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expenses      

Note: We’ve decided to keep our grocery budget at $410.

Budgeted Amounts

budget amounts April 2019

Actual Budget Amounts

April 2019 Actual Monthly Budget

Our FREE simple budgeting series

Do you want to learn to budget like we do?

Please take the time to read through our budgeting series plus read Budgeting in the New Year.

I hope the information will help stop you from making common budgeting mistakes.

Our Ultimate Budgeting Guide from A to Z has everything you need to know about budgeting in one blog post.

  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1 Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2Budget Categories
  3. How We Designed Our Budget Step 3– Tracking Receipts
  4. How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
  5. How We Designed Our Budget Step 5– 5S Organization
  6. How We Designed Our Budget Step 6– Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed Our Budget Step 7– Balancing Our Budget
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing our Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Our Bills
  10. How We Designed Our Budget Step 10 Projected Expenses

Budget updates month by month

Just in case you missed our budget updates and want to do a quick search I’ve compiled them all on one handy page: monthly budgets.

2019 Budget Challenge- 7 Monthly Budget Reports

2019 Canadian Budget Binder Budget Challenge

When I was looking for people to join the CBB 2019 Budget Challenge back in December I had over 20 people interested in joining.

It looks like we are missing two of the 7 budget update reviews so we are down two people for the year although I will give them until the end of today to submit.

As our budget challengers ventures along you may see their budget reports increase in data which I expect especially because it’s a learning experience for everyone. The more you do a task the better you get at it and the more you learn about what you are doing.

The budget reports below will remain anonymous unless the writer chooses to use their name and each one will be unique. They get to choose how they report their budget back to us.

Here we GO!!!

Budget Report #1

Spring has sprung and it’s really nice to see the Cherry Blossoms and tulips again!

I enjoy walking around the neighborhood, checking out the flowers that are coming up all around us. I plan lots of nice walks for hubby and I interspersed with our errands.

The best part…other than the gas to get where our little scenic walks are planned, our outings are free! I tend to include picnics as well and turn the outings into some pretty special memories.

I love entertainment that’s FREE!

Once again, I managed to stay on track with our budget during April, mostly because I stayed out of the stores, and we finished the month off with $806.62 in our vacation accounts towards the $4,500 budget we are trying to achieve before year-end.

I decided to empty all of our High Interest Savings accounts at Coast Capital Savings and invest those funds in either 12 or 14 month GICs offering a better rate than the savings accounts with the exception of our Future Payments Account and the Condo Fees and Taxes Account.

I will need those funds in 2019 so they stayed in the accounts. Now I feel so broke, and I am consequently feeling very sad, because the emptied accounts have less than $1.00 in them until I save up some more money.

I hate feeling broke though…I have been there, done that BUT that miserable broke feeling will motivate me to save, save, save! That’s a good thing, right?

I also decided to move the funds in my “Mad Money” account that were in my name only and put them at an institution where I have a chequing account that I have designated to be used as my Estate account when the day come hopefully no time soon!

Until the funds are needed though, they will sit in a JOINT high interest savings account at that institution. Hubby’s “Mad Money” funds are already in a JOINT high interest savings account where he also has a chequing account so there’s no re-positioning of funds required for the eventual set-up of his estate account.

I haven’t done a proper grocery shop since before Christmas.

I can get hubby to pick up the “really good sales” on produce, to round out what we have, on his way home from work.

Keeping me out of the produce department is a VERY good thing. I get stars in my eyes just gazing at all the lovely fruits and vegetables!

I hardly even notice myself loading the cart with all kinds of wanted, but not necessarily needed, goodies it’s like I am a zombie attracted to all the pretty produce! LOL

Hubby on the other hand buys exactly what’s on the list…no more, no less unless of course they are out of stock. For example, I had him stop last week and pick up 2 cauliflower at 2 for $5, 2 x 3 lb bags of red onions for $1.97 ea and an 8 lb bag of apples for $5.97!

The whole week’s groceries were less than $15!

By keeping me away from the stores, I don’t get the opportunity to shop my WANTS, we only get our NEEDS. It makes a huge difference…we’re spending about $10-15 a week.

It’s amazing how very little we actually NEED when we have a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

Do I think I can keep this up all year…no because I want to enjoy summer’s bounty but I will use some other tricks like shopping directly from the farms to keep my costs low, only get exactly what I NEED and in the quantity I need it by taking hubby with me as my own little personal grocery cop BUT I’ll still get to enjoy the LOCAL SEASONAL produce.

The things that aren’t grown locally will not be on my list this year…I can buy loads of flats of assorted berries and skip the tropical fruits when I shop direct with a grower.

I use the loss leaders in the flyers to make a first draft of my grocery list.

Next I make my meal plan and try to reduce the number of items, on my second draft of the grocery list, that I actually need to prepare the week’s meal plan.

My third draft of the weekly list is made after I look at the pantry to figure out how many meals could I make that do not require any items be bought and then substitute a few meals that require no new purchases into my weekly meal plan.

I find that by the time I have cut my grocery list twice…I am down to 1/3 of what I originally had on the list.

Talk about waste not want not!

After I make our month-end deposits this month, I will send off our annual contributions to the joint non-registered brokerage account, our TFSAs and RRSPs. The more I can squeeze into our long term investments every year, the happier I am.

I am never tempted to “borrow” from the savings if they are at the brokerage houses…but I have been known to temporarily tap a high interest savings account and then have to scramble to try to re-pay my borrowings before the year-end.

I’m not perfect so I try and limit my opportunities to fail. LOL Out of sight, out of mind works well for me.

I’ll also have 8 registered account transfers between institutions over the next three months with a whole bunch more coming up in the fall. Things are not really slowing down volume-wise with our financial accounting this year.

I guess there’s no rest for the wicked! LOL

On the plus side, hubby and I had the 1st of our 5 trips this month and all it cost was 1 tank of gas plus roughly $100 from our Entertainment and Gift Savings to treat ourselves to three lunches out and $20 grocery money for our room snacks and beverages.

I had extra money saved up for our summer gas needs, so we didn’t actually have to touch our vacation savings at all! Woo Hoo! < Picture me doing a happy dance!>

I used Marriott Bonvoy points to pay for our 3 nights of hotel and that included a hot breakfast daily and evening hors d’oeurves & milk/chocolate milk/soft drinks/bottled water.

They also have yogurt on the breakfast bar so I always grab one for my evening snack. Hubby on the other hand enjoys a few Cheetos or Freetos with a soft drink loaded with ice.

I bring a kettle and an assortment of teas and boullions so that I can kick back & enjoy a hot cup of something with my snack before bedtime.

Budget Report #2

April proved to be a busy month for us (and an expensive one too)! My husband finally got some overtime hours back, but it wasn’t until the end of April, so May will be better for income.

Our bathroom renovation is becoming more expensive than first planned, so we cut back on a few things and we’ll add them later.

Isn’t this always the way with home renovations!?

Our ‘Everything Else’ category, this month, included cake supplies, clothing, birthday gifts, household items, holiday craft supplies and a weekend getaway to Kalahari with the kids.

Thankfully, we had some cash banked from last month, so we didn’t have to rely on credit cards, which is my new financial goal in life!

PROS:
– My husband finally got some overtime hours back
– We paid for a weekend getaway with the kids (which we’ll be enjoying in May)
– Our actual food expense was a little closer to our monthly budget

CONS:
– We spent over our budget by $400
– We’ve had to adjust what we’re doing on our bathroom reno to fit our budget better

Budget Report #3

Hello!

Here’s my April submission:

Current Status: 111% to Budget

Where to start for this month?

Well I’m slightly better off to budget than last month, but not by much.

Failures: I’m a bit ashamed of my food consumption, however I had a few family visitors over this month from the states and they always like to eat out.

I do have to put some of these purchases on my credit card because sometimes theirs get declined.

But they always reimburse me for the ones that are their idea. So my income to actual spent is much lower than my % to budget.

Failures this month also include parking fees, parking in downtown Vancouver is quite expensive, and you don’t know how long you’re going to be down there for.

The one thing that I learned is that always put the minimum amount of parking down that you think and you can always add more time, they have these great apps now that track your time and signal you for time remaining.

I should trust those more, but it was the first time I was using these apps quite a bit.

And I failed a bit in my Misc category, this month was my Baby shower and my sister in law really didn’t come through on decorations, balloons etc.

So I spent about $150 of my own money to get the party looking good and party favors.

Unfortunately, quite a few people cancelled on me/ didn’t show up the day of so I feel it was sort of a waste now, but I’m glad for the time I got to spend with my family that did show up.

Wins: All my static categories are still at their required levels. Especially savings for things like property taxes, sewer/water, and house insurance.

I’m hoping to keep this going while on Maternity leave, but we’ll see how that goes since my pay gets cut 55%. Another good thing is that my tax refund is getting deposited in a few days so I can pay off my credit card.

I’m hoping to get my Husband on board of not spending any money on the credit card going forward. We’ve been so good at using only one credit card for the last 2 years I’m hopeful that we can continue.

Budget Report #4

My little blurb: going very raw and putting ourselves out there with real numbers this month! this was our first month with vehicle payments so its been a change for us.

We also were able to save on groceries because we were away for 5 days with my mom over Easter and she took care of most meals.

We are working on trying to catch up on our power bill after a few pricey months this winter that we were not prepared for.

Hoping to build back up our emergency fund before I get laid off for the summer.

We have been doing extra work with our side job and should see a big increase in income there for May.

The goal is the side job needs to be enough to cover the vehicle payments (100/week).

Received some positive news. When my husband returns back to work in July (currently on parental leave) he will be working from home.

So that will save on gas (drives 50km ea way) and parking (100$/month) when he returns.

Looking forward to September when we will both be back to work full-time

Budget Report #5

So March was a really hard month for me. You may wonder why I’m talking about March since this is April’s report, but let’s back track a minute.

Last month I didn’t really write anything for the budget challenge.

I’ve been extremely depressed with all that’s been going on in my personal and professional life, the compounding issues that never seem to end, finally took their toll on me and I broke down.

I reached out to a therapist, and thankfully I have something called EAP through my work – what a godsend. For those not aware of what their health plan includes – look into it! I see my EAP counsellor for free.

At the end of 3 sessions I get assessed to see if more sessions are needed and if they are, I continue to see her for free. I can also access resources for a dietician which is critical because I am currently in a stress induced flare up of Crohn’s disease.

To say March (and the last few months) has sucked is not giving it enough meaning. So April. April I decided I needed to go down to part time at work to help manage my stress and get things back on board.

I have a total of 13 sick and vacation days left to use up before July, so I decided to use those first before having to look at medical EI.

Dropping down to 55% of my income (the rate of pay I would receive on a sick claim through EI) would not be ideal for anyone, and the idea of it makes me more stressed.

I’m feeling better about things, but still worried I will have to go on Ei and have a decreased income.

I can make it work, but there definitely wouldn’t be any savings to speak of. Crohn’s affects my eating a lot.

So I guess one good thing about it is my food budget has decreased significantly.

But, I’m still eating out way too much which is the side effect of not having running water in your house.

You don’t want to make food and then have to figure out how to do your dishes (for those who are interested – pull water up out of the well, light a fire in the wood stove and boil pots on top of the woodstove).

I’ve still been meeting my other goals (the Gail Vax Oxlade budget amounts) but I am hoping to get my eating figured out and start eating healthier foods.

So this could mean the budget could go up (better quality foods cost more) or it could go down (if I budget and meal plan properly, and make good tasting food maybe I’ll eat out less, and be able to buy smaller amounts of groceries).

By the end of the month my water was fixed. 3 months 1 week without water. I haven’t gotten the bill yet but based off his estimate my tax return should cover it.

My normal expenses for this month included buying and installing summer tires, and a horrendous power bill for the winter months. I also got a kitten who will be getting $500 worth of vet bills next month.

I just squeaked by for this month, but I know next month I’ll be pulling from my savings account. These last few months have really shown me the importance of having a savings account, and not just a small emergency fund.

As a note to Mr CBB I’d love to see a blog post on how to handle a significant dip in finances 9an unexpected lay off or sick leave for example) as well as how to maximize your points cards such as Air Miles and PC Points.

Here’s my thoughts towards these topics: Drop in finances: call around and see if any of your payment plans can be lowered, maybe as a long time customer they will give you a deal cut services you don’t need – we have plenty of wants in our lives but fewer needs.

Get rid of the wants and add them back when you have the money share bulk grocery orders with people – buying family size items might not make sense on your own, but they save a ton of money a lot of the time (read the price per unit labels and share with a friend) clean out your freezer and pantry.

We all have foods that don’t really appeal to us that we avoid, now’s the time to eat them up! Declutter and sell items online or to pawn shops that you don’t want.

Points cards PC Points – I have no suggestions other than to try to redeem them on a spend less day (Shoppers will run promos redeem $100 of points for $125 of merchandise – or something like that) Airmiles Shop blue Friday’s but only get items you need.

When they have the gift card promos buy a lot of gift cards to earn yourself points. Sobeys gift cards can be spent on gas (shell), convenience stores (needs), prescription (Lawtons) and groceries (Sobeys).

If you know you will be spending $400 that month on these items, buy the gift cards and get the air miles.

You can redeem them later for fun, or in desperate financial times. Watch for mega promotions.

This past month I made $100 in Air Miles by buying things I needed anyways.

So this months recap went all over the places but I’d love to hear how people have saved money when faced with an unforeseen financial roadblock, as well as how they make their points cards work.

Here’s hoping things start smoothing out soon!

Budget Report #6

Budget Report #7

P.S- Don’t forget to leave them a comment about their budget challenge report.

Welcome to our Budget Challengers for 2019 above.

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of June 2019 (sometimes in the middle) to see how we made out with our May 2019 budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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