I realize there are times you don’t have an emergency fund and your car needs new tires or you just had a major medical expense, your plumbing just exploded, or you lost your job or your best client. Things look very bleak at the moment and its VERY hard to see how this financial debacle will ever end. However, now is not the time to shrink and hide. Procrastinating on your financial obligations rarely leads to inexpensive and timely fixes and crossing your fingers and hoping rarely gets you back on track.
Instead, here are five moves to temporarily reduce your financial strain so that you can get back on track. Not all of them will work for everyone, but I was in a meeting yesterday with a client who inspired this post – and it occurred to me that her reckoning could have come earlier and saved her money if only she knew about her options, so here goes:
- Taxes – The IRS and most states offer programs that will suspend collections if the collection process will cause undo financial hardship. There are strict guidelines for this but these programs can amend current payment plans or get you considered “currently not collectible”. Call us if you need help with that.
- Health Insurance – This is not an expense you want to do away with, especially since without it you are more susceptible to falling prey to dire financial emergencies. If you are using the healthcare exchanges call them as soon as your situation changes – they can make adjustments to policies and subsidies for major life changes such as divorce, child birth , losing a job, etc. Many private health insurance companies also have programs for assisting folks with abrupt life changes so give them a call – If you don’t ask the answer is always No!
- Student Loans – Apply immediately for a deferment. If one is not available then request a forbearance. A caveat to the forbearance approach – your interest will continue to accrue in forbearance so if possible try to make the interest payments each month so you don’t continue to grow the student loan liability. A true deferment, on the other hand, is more temporary but the government backs these loans and makes the interest payments while you get back on track.
- Prescriptions – Most major pharmaceutical companies have a Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) designed to help you pay for your meds or provide direction when sudden changes in your situation make it difficult for you to afford your medications. If necessary you can contact an advocate like NeedyMeds to help find you a financially reasonable solution.
- Utilities – Many local utility companies will provide discounts or financial assistance to pay for utilities. Just doing a quick check of my utility companies I found programs that offered lowered rates if someone in my family experienced a medical emergency or new disability. There are also government programs that they can direct you to that will also help you keep your lights on. Check with your cable and cellular services as well. You may have had to reduce some services but their customer service agents can be helpful in offering suggestions to minimize costs and offering new rates or programs.
Financial emergencies will happen. Hiding our heads in the sand will not resolve them. Pick up the phone and ask for help. Not every company will be able to offer you assistance, but you would be surprised how many options exist if you just pick up the phone and ask…..
We’ll chat again soon!