Nearly everyone experiences a personal financial crisis.
Panicking won’t help your situation. Instead, take a deep breath and start forming a plan to regain peace of mind.
If you’re in a personal financial crisis, these steps may help put you on a much better path.
Step 1: Resolve to Take Care of Yourself
Financial meltdowns take an emotional and physical toll. Before you help anyone else, you need to help yourself.
Here’s a quick four-point list of self-care essentials that you can start planning to do immediately:
- Commit to taking care of your physical health. Exercise can clear your head and help you cope positively with stress. Try setting aside some time in the morning for a jog or walk; even just 15 minutes per day may help your mood significantly.
- Understand the disruption. Your sleep, energy levels, and self-esteem may be affected for a while. Take extra steps to adapt to these changes, such as trying to go to bed earlier or taking extra self-care measures.
- Start connecting with others. You may be feeling like you want to withdraw socially; resist the urge to isolate. Find someone you can trust and lean on for support. Also, consider being open and honest with family.
- Watch out for unhealthy coping mechanisms. You may feel inclined to isolate yourself, self-medicate, or obsess over worst-case scenarios. These activities will likely make you feel worse; try to cope constructively with healthy ways to deal with stress instead.
Step 2: Look for Financial Emergency Assistance
There’s no such thing as free money, even when you’re in need. But sometimes help comes with strings attached. . . if you know where to look.
Here are some possible quick wins that may help you get a leg up, depending on your situation:
If you’ve lost your job recently, you may qualify for some relief from the government. Most states provide unemployment benefits to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. To qualify, you must meet your state’s eligibility requirements.
If you own a home, you may be allowed some wiggle room on your mortgage payments for a limited amount of time following a hardship, especially if your misfortune is related to COVID-19. However, you’ll have to get in touch with your mortgage lender to find out if this applies to you. In most cases, you will still have to pay the same amount (with interest), but some lenders will let you delay payments until you get back on your feet.
Hospital Financial Assistance
Paying medical bills can be a struggle. Fortunately, many medical offices have a financial assistance policy that can reduce or sometimes eliminate medical debt in times of hardship. Policies vary from hospital to hospital, but it never hurts to ask your medical provider about what financial assistance is available to you.
Student Loan Deferment and Forbearance
Student loans are a major source of debt for many Americans, and they can be hard to keep up with during crises. If you’re in a bind, there may be some temporary relief you can look into.
If all else fails, taking out an emergency personal loan may be better than defaulting on debt or accruing late-payment fees. If you need funds fast, you may be able to get a personal loan to cover short-term debt, and then repay the loan (with interest) in monthly installments.
Step 3: Assess Your Situation and Recover
It’s hard to look at the wreckage of a financial crisis. But knowing exactly what the damage is or will be could help you recover sooner.
In any financial picture, there are two main factors: expenses and income. And until the two are balanced, you won’t begin to cover financially. Here’s a quick way to do it:
Reduce Your Expenses
First, some quick budgeting activities are in order. List out your expenses and separate them into two categories: fixed and variable.
Variable expenses are ones you can control. They include items such as entertainment spending, streaming subscriptions, and gym memberships. Fixed costs, on the other hand, are outside of your control (rent, car notes, etc.).
Dig extra deep when tallying variable expenses and brainstorm ways to reduce them. Think of items such as:
- Pet care
Increase Your Income
There are lots of ways to earn extra income: grass cutting, dog walking, becoming an Uber driver, etc.
However, since we’re in the digital age, this article will focus on online ways you can potentially earn money online. As of last year, three of the most popular online side-hustles included testing websites and apps, transcription services, and taking online surveys.
If you enjoy surfing the Web, then website and app testing might be a lucrative way to make some extra cash.
Another online option for extra cash is online transcription work. If you’re a skilled typist, you could potentially earn money by taking audio and video files and using a keyboard to write out what is being said aloud.
Finally, if you need money fast and have the time, taking online surveys could help put a little extra cash in your pocket. Some platforms will pay users to read questions online and provide answers, which businesses use to design new products or learn about their client base. However, the pay is low for surveys, often less than minimum wage, according to finance blog Nerdwallet.
Get Out of Your Financial Crisis Through Baby Steps
Day-by-day, step-by-step, you’ll likely be able to get back on solid financial footing by implementing the right strategies. The first 48 hours following a money meltdown are a crucial time to set off on the right path.
To recover, make sure you’re taking care of your own needs, be honest in your assessment of the situation, and look into "side hustle" opportunities that pay dependably and quick.