How to Survive a Financial Hardship
Life has a way of knocking you down when you least expect it. One minute, everything is going great, and suddenly, you are facing an unexpected emergency. This might be a sickness or a disability, losing a job or unexpected costly home repairs. While I do recommend trimming the fat of your spending, this won’t be your standard, “Stop buying your morning coffee and save hundreds” blog post. When a real tragedy hits, that morning coffee will be the last thing on your mind. Instead, this is going to be about some quick action steps that can help create a financial buffer when you need one the most.
So what should you do if disaster strikes, and you have to find room in your budget that you know isn’t there?
1. Shop around
Review your budget, line-by-line, to see if there is an opportunity to shop for rates that are more favorable. This is your chance to think outside the box – auto, home and life insurance, cable, streaming, Internet service, cell phone providers and daycare can (and should) be reviewed regularly for better rates or benefits or lower deductibles. These are services people rarely think about changing, but small changes can save you a lot of money in the end.
2. Talk to your financial advisor or accountant
You may have flexibility with payroll deductions in an emergency. While you don’t want to pay Uncle Sam at the end of the year, you don’t want to give him an interest-free loan, either. Our Financial Advisor is happy to offer you a free consultation.
3. Ask your financial institution
As a professional in the financial industry, I can tell you that we’ve heard it all. There’s nothing you should feel embarrassed by, and we are truly here to help you. We don’t expect you to know how to handle every situation, and we might have resources available to ease your financial burden. Most institutions will offer a hardship modification, skip-a-pay options, refinance or equity loans designed to save you money.
4. Speaking of your financial institution…
You may be tempted to go to a payday lender or second chance finance company. I would caution you to think again. Those institutions exist because they offer a “quick fix” solution to your problem. They will rarely help you get out from under financial loss because they encourage a cycle of debt. Similarly, they charge exorbitant interest rates and may put you at risk for losing collateral or other personal property in the event of a default. You will always be better off asking your credit union for a loan that will actually help you – whether it is a debt consolidation or a personal loan.
I survived the worst of it…now what?
When you are back on your feet, you should consider adding payment protection wherever possible to all of your financial obligations. If you have a loan with us, you can add this protection to the loan at any time. Definitely check with your other lending institutions to see if they have similar options available for your non-InFirst loans. This is an invaluable tool that you will be thankful for if you find yourself in the same boat down the road.
Remember all of those payroll deductions that we talked about way back in tip number two? Don’t forget to revise those deductions when you are able to and increase your savings allotment. This will help you have more of a cushion if when something like this happens again. As my very first boss used to say, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Thanks, Dave – wiser words were never spoken.
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Krista Kyte is a personal finance blogger and personal banker with over 17 years of experience in the financial industry. Krista is passionate about helping our members understand their financial situations. She writes tips that will help consumers reach and maintain, financial security, and start living the life they’ve always wanted.