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5 Things to Do in a Financial Emergency

Posted: 07/11/13 3:00 PM (Modified: 07/11/13 3:00 PM)

I was asked about this article just a few weeks ago and thought it might be worth reposting. This is actually one of my favorites and I pray it helps you or someone you know today. 

Sometimes in life, we have emergency financial situations. These situations may be the result of medical issues, divorce, a job layoff or something else along those lines. Unfortunately, I have actually been through quite a few emergency financial situations. I wanted to share with you 5 ways you can make it through a financial emergency without losing your mind or everything you own.

{5 Things to Do in a Financial Emergency}

1. Do NOT Panic: Pretty obvious, right? No. Most people do panic. Ask around, you'll find that many times when a spouse is laid off, they cash out their 401k's, borrow money, pull out another credit card, etc. The key in any financial emergency is to back away from the panic button. If you panic the second you're hit with an unexpected situation, you are more likely to do things that will cost you money in the end or haunt you for the rest of your life.

2. Get It Straight: Now is the time to get your finances in order. Go through your bank account and all other accounts with a fine tooth comb and figure out exactly where your money is going. For those of you who are insanely organized, you might be able to skip this step. However, for the rest of mankind, you'll have to sit down and go through every single detail. Recently, I went through my bank account only to find out I had companies drafting money out of my account each month that I did not even know about. Crazy but true.

This step will also help you figure out how much money is being wasted at drive thru's, gas stations, etc. Those $1 stops here and there DO add up and in an emergency situation, every single penny counts. Now is the time to get that budget in order!

3. Determine Needs vs. Wants: Sound easy? Think again. While it might be easy to cut the cable, it is not easy to cut out sports for the kids or sell the second car. A "need" is food, shelter, clothing, etc for your family. I'm not saying your kids can never play sports again, what I am saying is that those things might have to be put on hold until the money starts flowing again.

This, of course, is where your creativity will have to be put to work. If you have kids, taking away sports for a season will not go over well but you can help the transition by filling the time with free activities. Hit the park with the family once a week or find fun, "family-friendly" events in your community. Before you make those changes though, contact your school or sports organization and see if there is any type of 'financial aid' available. It never hurts to ask!

4. Call Everyone & Explain: This is IMPORTANT. No matter what the reason behind the financial emergency, call everyone you pay monthly and explain the situation. Then, ask for payment plans or some kind of discounted rate. I cannot explain in words how much this will help. Recently, I called around and explained a situation I am going through and I asked about discounted rates and/or payment plans to find out what options I had. Check out what happened to me below:

Cable: Switched to an economy cable plan, emergency phone & was still able to keep high speed internet (savings $50 per month)

Cell Phone & Laptop Air Card: Applied a discount I did not know existed, switched calling plan & found out about a new data plan (savings $100 a month)

Alarm System: Explained situation and was given a 3 month credit to our account (savings $90)

Let me just say, I do know how to save money...obviously, but by calling and explaining our situation and asking what options I had before I cut the service all together, I was able to save WAY more than I ever thought possible. Before you panic and cut everything you can think of, CALL FIRST and talk to someone. You will be surprised what can happen, I promise.

5. Take Charge: Some personalities are geared more towards this than others, I can say (about myself) that I have no problems taking charge of any situation. Now, this can be good and bad but when it comes to money, it's a good thing. When faced with a recent financial situation, my brain switched into survival mode. I did all the steps above then I exercised (even more than usual) all of my frugal living know-how. Couponing for our family is not a hobby, it is a necessity. I also make my own laundry detergent, cleaners and random other things too.

This is also the time to get a second job, sell things you do not need anymore or even go down to using just one car. It's not easy to do but those things could keep you from charging up credit cards or pulling everything out of your savings account. Believe me, I have been there and done that and those kinds of decisions will haunt you for a very long time. Being inconvenienced for a short time is far better than acquiring debt that will take you years to pay off.

No one can change your current financial situation but you. Period. You will have to do things you've never done before but you will make it. Years ago, I went through a time where we could not even afford to eat and during that time I learned how to coupon and shop strategically. That changed our lives forever. Not only did we begin to afford groceries but soon, that method which was learned during a crisis, became my full time business. Now, years later, that business is what is supporting our family AND teaching others all over the country how to feed their families. Amazing how God works, right?

Do the best you can in your situation, always take the high road, don't fall into a 'cheap' mentality and learn everything you possibly can in the midst of the situation you are in. There is no telling how the experiences and the knowledge you gain during this time will be used in the future. You just might be able to keep someone else from going through what you are going through right now.

Jul 13, 2013 08:33 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

EXCELLENT article. I went thru all these same steps when both my husband & lost our jobs. #1 was the hardest not to do!

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