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Woman wondering how she will get Through Times of Financial Hardship.

Survive Financial Hardship: Tips To Get You Through Tough Times

Financial hardship can happen to anyone. You can lose your job, or your business could fail—which is what happened to millions of people during the pandemic. Someone in the family got sick, and your savings went to hospital bills. Death, divorce, and disability can also change circumstances overnight.  

So, if you’re going through financial hardship, know that you’re not alone and that you can overcome this and get back on your feet. Meanwhile, these tips can help you get through tough times.

Tighten Your Budget

In this economy, running a tight budget is a good idea even if you’re not going through financial hardship. But when times are tough, every expense must be scrutinized.

Look at Fixed Versus Variable Costs

You can’t do much about fixed costs like rent or insurance premiums. However, zoom in on variable costs.

Variable expenses can fluctuate over a month or even a year. These include:

  • Household expenses like groceries, food, and maintenance  
  • Resource expenses like electricity, water, and gas
  • Personal expenses like clothes, entertainment, and medicines

Look for ways to save on each area—especially household expenses. This category alone can be 50% of your income, but it’s the most flexible. You can buy cheaper ingredients, generic brands, or go to a supermarket that’s known for its lower prices.

Get the whole family involved in the budget planning process. Set a goal: “We need to lower food costs by half. What can we do?”

Differentiate Needs Versus Wants

Variable expenses are more flexible, but you can’t completely do without them. Discretionary expenses, on the other hand, are the first thing you should give up. You’d be surprised how much you’d save just by canceling subscriptions or Friday nights out.

But that doesn’t mean you must completely deprive yourself of all sources of joy—you need stress relief, especially now! Just find cheaper (or even free) ways to reward yourself: listening to music, picnics in the park, evening walks with the family.

Needs vs Wants

Anticipate long-term expenses

Some expenses only happen once or twice a year but are huge. This can include tuition payments, annual premiums, or even a spike in spending during the holidays.

Divide the cost into 12 and plug it into your regular budget, so you gradually save for them instead of overloading your budget on that particular month.

If you can’t afford them with your current financial situation, be proactive and consider ways to reduce or prevent the cost. For example, if you’re concerned about school fees, can you apply for a scholarship or student subsidy? Or should you take the year off and submit an application for a leave of absence?  

Track Your Daily Expenses

Your budget may look great on paper, but it’s easy to lose track of your daily spending and realize that you’re short before the next payday. To avoid this problem, write down every expense in a notebook or money app.

Apps are convenient because they can automatically add up your costs and warn you when you’re overspending. You can also see plug-in due dates for bills or rent to get payment reminders. That will help you avoid late or disconnection fees.

A notebook is better than nothing if you’re not a tech person. Ask your partner or children to do the same since it also gives you a big picture of the total household expenses.

Contact Your Creditors

If you are paying off a mortgage, credit card, or student loan, contact them to inform them of your situation and ask for financial hardship concessions.

Many banks will restructure your loan, and credit unions can offer loan assistance. Either way, it’s better to grab the bull by the horns and face the problem rather than let the interest pile up.

Loan assistance may come in the form of reduced or deferred payments or waiving part of the interest. Just make sure you understand their new loan package clearly. Ask about fees, the schedule of payments, and if you’re expected to give a lump sum at any point during or at the end of your loan term.

Most creditors will ask for a letter that explains your situation (sometimes called a hardship letter) and supporting documents. So, prepare this before you visit the office to inquire about their programs to minimize delays.

Seek Help with Utility Bills

Are you struggling to pay energy bills? The first step is to contact your provider. Many companies are extending energy bill assistance in response to the COVID-19 economic crisis. They may defer your payments or even reduce them.

You may qualify for the LIHEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) if you've lost your job. It can help you with heating or cooling expenses and provide emergency assistance if your electricity has been cut off.

Check your state’s energy assistance programs. Some of them offer Weatherization Assistance: they’ll install insulation and other renovations to help lower heating or cooling costs. Others—including Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, and more—can give money to pay for bills or refer you to community partners who can help.

Get Help with Medical Expenses

When many people got laid off, they lost not only their income but medical insurance, too. If you’re going through financial hardship, there are ways to get healthcare at a lower cost or even for free.

You can apply for the government’s Medicaid program, which can cover hospitalization, doctor’s fees, lab work, and some kinds of prescription medicine. Your kids are also eligible for the CHIP program, which subsidizes pediatrician visits and vaccines.

If you need to see a doctor, check the NAFC (National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics) and the Aunt Bertha websites. They have a directory of clinics that are willing to provide free treatment and pharmacies that can fill your prescription for free or at a lower cost.

You can approach the Healthwell Foundation and PAN (Patient Access Network) for chronic or life-threatening diseases requiring long-term hospitalization, therapy, and medicines. You can also ask your doctor or hospital’s Patient Advocacy department if they can either lower your bills or refer you to an organization that can help.  

Check if You Qualify for Rent Assistance

The US government has released federal rental assistance funds to help people going through financial hardship.

You need to contact your state office to find out what’s available, the application process, and their requirements. You can also do a quick search on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. Just type your state or territory, and it will list some of your area's rental assistance programs.

If you do not qualify for rent assistance, or you are waiting for approval or have been put on a waiting list, try to talk to your landlord.

Ask if you can lower or defer your rent while looking for a better job or get a roommate to help share the rent costs. If you’re good with tools, you can offer to do repairs and renovation and “work off” some of the money you owe. It’s worth a try!

Approach Local Churches or Community Centers

They can use their network to help you find a job or a local charity. They may even be able to give money or organize a fundraiser.

Aside from financial help, they can also provide emotional support—which anyone going through the stress of financial hardship really needs!

Earn Extra Income with a Side Hustle

A part-time or freelancing job can help you pay the bills until you find a more permanent job. The good news is that you can find many openings online. Here are some sites to get you started:

  • Upwork. Wide platform with various job openings, including marketing and communication, web design, project management, and administrative work like transcription or virtual assistants.
  • People Per Hour. It focuses on web projects, so it’s ideal for marketers, software engineers, and SEO specialists.
  • Toptal. This site is geared toward software developers, product managers, and finance experts
  • Fiverr. You can look for creative jobs like graphic design, photography, video production, and more.
  • Paperell. If you have a strong background in the academe (or have been a Straight-A student) this site connects you to students who need help with their essays and papers.
  • Taskrabbit. This job site can help you offer services like delivery, house cleaning, and organizing, small house repairs like installing lights, personal assistants, etc. There is a small registration fee of $25.

Aside from online job sites, you can check Craigslist for local work. While most people use to buy and sell items, you can also find leads for part-time jobs or projects.

Sell Items You Don’t Need

Parting with some of your valuables may be painful, but the money can help you get through financial hardship.

The key to getting the best price for your items is to know where to sell them. Electronics like computers, phones, gaming consoles, and televisions sell well anywhere. But you can find more buyers on Amazon and eBay or sites that specialize in selling gadgets like Nextworth, Swappa, and Gazelle.

For more specialized equipment, such as professional cameras or fishing gear, it’s best to go to a community forum where you’ll find hobbyists and pros who can recognize its value. The same goes for collectibles like comic books, action figures, paintings, first-edition or rare books, antique silverware, etc.

Designer clothes and accessories sell well on Poshmark and Le Prix, which have established a reputation among fashionistas as the place to get “pre-loved” quality items. Of course, the items must be in good condition, and you’ll have to think about how to ship them without damage.

You can also sell books on Amazon, Cash4Books, CKY books, and Sell Back Your Book. You won’t get a very big amount of money, but every cent counts—and you’ll be able to free up space and share the book with someone who needs it.

You can also get faster responses from buyers by clearly listing the product features, taking good photos, and bundling products (ex: cameras with lenses).

Take Out a Personal Loan

When it rains, it pours. You’re already experiencing financial hardship, then something comes up: your car breaks down, a storm damages your house, or the laptop you use for work conks out, and you have to buy a new one.

Personal loans can help you quickly raise money for these emergencies. The most important thing is that it really is an emergency — loans should never be taken lightly because you will have to factor in payments in your monthly budget.

Here are some questions to ask before taking a loan:  

  • Is it related to my family’s safety, survival, and health?
  • Is it related to my ability to earn or continue working?
  • Will the problem get worse if it isn’t addressed right away?
  • Have I tried all other ways to raise money – approaching organizations, asking friends and family, or selling items?

Get Loans for Financial Hardship

Once it’s clear that you really need an emergency loan, go to a lender you can trust. Simple Fast Loans has a variety of loan packages that are ideal for people who are going through financial hardship.

  • All kinds of credit histories are welcome. If you have a low credit score, are currently unemployed, or do not have collateral, you can still apply for a loan. We will work with you to create a loan package that suits your financial situation.
  • Flexible payment schedules. We understand that times are hard. Let’s discuss what kind of loan terms will work for you.
  • Easy application. We have a simple verification process, so you don’t waste time on unnecessary paperwork or requirements.
  • Fast payout. Depending on your loan, you can borrow from $200 to $3,000. And once it’s approved, you get the money right away.

Simple Fast Loans can help you through a rough spot. Contact us for a personal consultation and find out how to get emergency cash as soon as possible.  

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