Family Budget Fridays – Surviving a Crisis

Family Budget Fridays – Surviving a Crisis

How you react in a crisis will often illuminate the path of how to survive it.

It is that time. Not just Friday, but “that time,” in which the national economy continues to struggle, unemployment numbers sit stagnate at contemporary highs; yet you’re expected to keep the roof overhead, food on the table and bills paid. On top of it, you need to push something into savings or retirement.

For many families, so many things hang, or perhaps teeter in/on a delicate balance. A bad one to two week stretch, or even worse, the loss of job, and there’s no way around it–you’re swimming in the sea of financial crisis.

It doesn’t help that the age-old saying always seems to offer a bold, truthful slap in the face: “When it rains, it pours.” Once you start to fall behind, it only makes the mountain more difficult to climb; however, if you don’t wig out, there is a silver lining. You must rely on the tools of communication.

All too often, when people face a crisis (if you never have, that’s great, but understand that at some point you will), especially within family dynamic, they opt for “deer in headlights” mode. After the jaw-dropping and eye bulging ends, the disbelief manifests itself in active negativity. Couples will point fingers, get frustrated, depressed and take out their frustrations on anyone within an ear or eye-shot. Even the kids.

The only healthy attitude to adopt is to let go of the blame game, identify the problem, swallow any associated pride, dig a trench, get the family into it and go to war against the financial foe.

If you hope to survive any financial crisis, you simply cannot panic, start feeling sorry for yourself or start playing with the magic “if.” What if I had only… If you would have… You can file those thoughts away for future educational purposes and discussions, but your first step in dealing with a financial crisis needs to be action of a positive nature.

Before you start thinking it’s necessary to collect weapons of mass destruction, understand that your war will be waged via telephone. First things first, contact all of your creditors–the bills that you’re worried about not being able to pay is a great place to start. Most of these companies, from banks to auto loan specialists, have stipulations built into your contract that will allow you to bump bills to a later payment date, or to the back of your contract, giving you a month to breathe and work on a long-term solution.

Next, eliminate all unnecessary spending. The smallest of budget cuts will help bring the situation around and get you out of the crisis. Yes, this means go without your cookies, beer, soda, Pay-Per-View UFC, manicures, pricey social outings, etc.

If you’ve lost a job, and are confident you can find another, immediately begin the application process. Otherwise, consider your options available for unemployment insurance offered by your former employer. It is there for a reason, and can help fill gaps during times of crisis. DO NOT view it as a solution or a cure-all. It’s a band-aid.

Finally, enlist the help of those closest to you. Do you have family, friends, a church group or community program that can help with a few things. Even a meal that you don’t have to prepare will help alleviate stress when you’re seeing an overwhelming bigger picture.

Again, this falls into the “swallowing of the pride” category that most Americans are bad at. In fact, bad isn’t a good word. We suck at it. If you have kids, see if someone can watch them for a few hours, or on a Saturday so you can dig deeper into the issue and explore solutions. These little offerings of help from others will present more aid in escaping the crisis than you may realize.

(Image via: Sun-Sentinel)