There are times when it doesn't work. You lost your job or you can't get a job. Your ex-wife takes you to court. Your partner absconds with the money in your business account. Your business fails. Your car dies. Your health takes an unexpected turn for the worse. Sometimes you're actually just trying to get to the next day — and you don't know exactly how you'll get there.
When one of you — our Facebook readers — asked us about dealing with really difficult circumstances, we couldn't help but be moved. And while we're all at different levels of financial independence (or dependence), we searched through our articles to find some that discuss what to do when you're in desperate circumstances and found relatively few.
So we thought, Why not ask the community for help? Let's reach out to the readers and see if, together, we can give our best advice for what to do when you're just barely making — or failing to make — ends meet.
This week, we'll consider the brass-tacks basics of what to do when you're in survival mode. This isn't an exhaustive list. It's just meant to be a starting point. Next week, we'll look at the attitudes that can help someone be successful during difficult times. The first thing is to prioritize your needs and stabilize your income…
Prioritize your needs
- Housing — Your safety is the highest priority and that starts with having a roof over your head.
- Utilities — Electricity and water are essential too, especially considering that extreme weather conditions can be deadly. (It's also important for the next priority.)
- Food — Clearly a necessity as well, but consider how you can bring your costs down.
- Transportation — Depending where you live, investigate public transportation and consider walking and/or getting a bicycle.
- Health Maintenance — Maintain necessary prescriptions such as insulin, etc. (Depending on your health, this may appear higher on the list.)
- Phone — You only need simple phone service that amounts to about $20/month (not a smartphone with Internet).
Stabilize your income
Do whatever you can to maintain (or *secure) income that will meet the prioritized needs at least. In certain circumstances, some of the items mentioned above, such as food and utilities, can be subsidized if necessary. If at all possible, secure a second job to help you get ahead faster. If you have an emergency fund — and you should — carefully budget your needs against it to see how long it will last.
(* Another reader provided her solution to when there isn't enough, which entailed making some hard choices such as moving out of state to find work.)
Readers, as you make comments on this post, please indicate at the top of your comment which aspect you are addressing so it's easy to find the suggestions that relate to a particular topic such as HOUSING, FOOD, or INCOME.