What to do if you’re in real financial trouble

Woman sitting at desk looking at receipts

It’s a problem that no one likes to admit, but that happens to nearly every person at some point in their lives: a serious lack of funds. The current crisis has left many unsure if they will be able to make their next mortgage payment, or even get groceries for the week.

If you are in financial trouble and are looking for your next steps, read on for some of our ideas and tips on the best way to turn your struggles into success stories. Some of the best resources for help are right here in Atlanta:

United Way of Greater Atlanta: This organization is all about making connections to get you and your family everything they need, from a hot meal to polishing your resume.

The Salvation Army: There are several local locations of this group, which strives to help those struggling with homelessness, at-risk youth, financial issues, and the fight against human trafficking.

Downtown Atlanta: Don’t let the name fool you; this group serves all of Atlanta through their community service initiatives. Along with raising awareness for important global projects, Downtown Atlanta also has resources for those who need to get off the streets and into a stable residence.

CAPS: CAPS, or Childcare And Parent Services, is a program designed to help parents with low income find affordable, quality childcare so the parents can work or attend school. Their goal is to ensure that no child is denied education due to a financial strain.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling: The NFCC has long established a reputation of helping people across the United States figure out the next steps to manage their debt. Their website also offers a variety of tools and resources to aid you at any time.

You know where to go—now let’s talk about what you can do when you’re in real financial trouble.

Don’t ignore financial trouble

As we said above, no one likes to admit when they are in financial trouble. It may embarrass you, or perhaps you just aren’t comfortable with that level of vulnerability. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: Your money problems will not disappear, no matter how long you refuse to acknowledge them. In fact, they may just get worse.

Create a budget

You know how we feel about budgets—everyone needs one, and we mean everyone. Even if you know that there is no way your income covers your expenses, you need to make a budget to see where you stand financially. How can you plan to recover from a money crisis if you aren’t even sure how much you spend on gas every week?

See what you can trim or cut

We know that you have probably already started to cut back on the non-essential items. But have you looked at ways to save on some of the more necessary parts of your budget?

For instance, you can look for coupons at your local grocery store to see if you can save a few cents on your dinners for the week. Try consignment stores first when your kids need clothes for the spring. Saving a few cents and dollars here and there can add up a lot over time.

Consider talking it out

DJ Tanner of Full House said it best: You might not solve anything, but just talking about it helps. You don’t have to wait for the sappy violins to play, but if you are experiencing significant financial distress, it’s a good idea to talk to someone. They don’t have to be a professional – a good friend will work, too. Shouldering an emotional burden is an unnecessary stress you don’t need to add to your full plate.

Find good resources

There are organizations around Atlanta who want to help with everyday needs – but they can’t unless you tell them what you need. Places like United Way of Greater Atlanta, HOPE Atlanta, and the Atlanta Center For Self Sufficiency are just a few of the local resources that can assist you with housing and other basic needs. Reach out to them to learn what you need to do to take advantage of their resources.

Consult an expert

Once you get the help you need for the basics, it’s time to take charge of your finances. Check out free resources like the ones Dave Ramsey offers, or head to Udemy to take a class on creating and maintaining a budget.

If you want local referrals to an accountant who can help, dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code and need to 898-211, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta will reach out to you with the information you need. No matter what path you take, don’t try to go it alone – find the right people to help you succeed.

Get some credit counseling

Speaking of experts, have you considered seeking credit counseling to help you build your credit back up? Places like MoneyManagement International offer their expertise both in person and over the phone, for everything from managing debt to working through student loans. Getting this type of counseling will go a long way in shaping your future as you recover from this financial crisis.

Stick to your plan

You have the information you need from your financial advisor and other experts. Now it’s time to buckle down and follow the plan you made with them. Will it be difficult? Probably. But anything worthwhile is.

Take the steps outlined by your professional consultant, and do not vary from them, even a little bit. If you’re not sure how to proceed in a particular circumstance, give your advisor a call to see what they would recommend.

Let others know how to help

Asking for help, or even just accepting it, can be hard. We know that. But the truth is that everyone needs help sometimes. This can even be something as small as letting someone know what your financial limitations are so they can help keep you accountable. Or see if anyone you trust can give you more ideas for resources in your area.

Financial trouble can be overwhelming, but they don’t have to dictate the rest of your life. Find the right help, take the right steps, and watch as you take control of your financial future.

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