Uncertainty is never a comfortable thing to face. And when you’re in the middle of a crisis, protecting your current finances can frequently seem like an uphill battle.
But it doesn’t have to be. Developing both short and long term goals can be dependent on your own current financial situation as much as your own ability to navigate circumstances. That may not mean it’s always simple; avoiding financial hardship means making certain sacrifices only you know for certain you can go without. But it’s a rewarding process, and not merely an economically realistic one. It can teach you just as much about your own adaptability to change as it can managing your budget. And for those of you who have served in the military, you obviously already know the full value of adaptability.
1. Establish An Emergency Budget
Some of you may only be able to afford putting away less than 5 percent of your monthly income in case of emergencies, while others can afford considerably more. But when a crisis hits you hardest, you can’t afford to be without a backup plan. Keep track of your daily and weekly expenses and try to distinguish between necessity and luxury. For some of you, that may mean eating in more often or sacrificing a weekly trip to the movie theater. And for others of you, that may mean sacrificing annual vacations or large scale purchases. Do whatever you can do to save now to prepare for future catastrophes, do so. Your health may ultimately depend upon it.
2. Discuss Contingency Plans With Your Employer
We often assume that our employers are unsympathetic to times of crisis when the very opposite is in fact true. But they’re frequently not always prepared to address emergencies. Does your HR department have a backup plan to address employee leave? Do they have a system in place that can provide for financial relief in critical times? Encourage them to be transparent in crisis management. Remember, the success of any organization ultimately depends on the wellbeing of all employees; and that starts with you.
3. Avoid Stress Spending
A recent survey from Credit Karma reveals that some 82 percent of Americans feel a noticeable amount of stress attached to their spending habits. Particularly around the holidays when there’s a much higher degree of emotional pressure attached to unnecessary spending. And while we’re not suggesting that you curb spending altogether, you may be inclined to spend more than you should on nonessential items to fulfill an emotional gap. This isn’t just unhealthy. In times of crisis, it can be downright devastating. Quick investment decisions never really meet long term financial security. And unhealthy spending can quickly drain you of any emergency fund you may have developed. Learning to spend moderately is as much as an artform as a skill. But it’s a critical oen to develop if you hope to get over any future financial bumps in the road.
4. Negotiate With Your Lenders
Prioritization of your spending can sometimes mean making hard decisions, and bills can frequently be one of them. Utility providers can frequently be more understanding of pressing everyday necessities than cable companies or mortgage lenders, but that still doesn’t mean you should fall behind. Limit credit card spending to only dire emergencies if possible, and pay whatever you can manage to other providers in times of emergency. You may wind up damaging your credit temporarily. But the good news is, there’s numerous credit counseling agencies who will work with you to help keep your head above water when times seem particularly dire.
5. Turn Your Passion Into Your Side Hustle
The gig economy has virtually exploded in the past five years, and freelance independent contractors are no longer merely side jobs but lucrative ventures. Whether you choose to work from home or on the road, there’s virtually no area of the gig economy which won’t benefit from your enthusiasm and expertise. It may not make you rich; but it can parlay your own interests into a money making solution. One that’s just as fulfilling as providing for your family.