Unexpected expenses, like a car breakdown, emergency home repairs, or a bill that comes out of the blue, have the potential to financially sink many Americans. But don’t feel like you’re alone. According to a new study by CareerBuilder, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of U.S. workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck — up three points from 2016. Additionally, the report found that women are more susceptible to challenges when it comes to making financial ends meet than men — 81 vs. 75 percent.
So if you have an emergency that threatens to eat up all your available cash, don’t let stress and fear paralyze you. As hard as it may seem, you still have options.
First things first: take a breath. Now, get ready to meet the problem head-on. Here are some helpful ideas to consider when tackling your money emergency.
- Find immediate ways to save.
You need to free up some cash—fast. If you don’t already have a budget, access your checking account statement and review your expenses. Are you spending money on things that you don’t really need, like eating out or shopping? Tighten your budget ASAP. If it’s a true emergency, you may need to make some tough decisions, but having the extra cash will be worth it. As your trusted financial advisor, it's our job at Nusenda to help you come up with reasonable and smart solutions that help you manage your debt, lower your stress, and simplify your life. You can make an appointment to meet with us today.
- Ask a relative.
The so-called Bank of Family typically has more flexible terms than most financial institutions. Don’t be upset if people draw a line at mixing finances with family or friends — make sure you have a secure relationship with the person, and be honest about your ability to repay.
- Use credit carefully.
If putting your emergency debt on a credit card or getting a personal loan are your only options, be careful. You may get immediate relief, but high-interest rates can dramatically increase the size of your debt. A great tip: if you’re applying for a new card, try to find one with a zero-percent APR intro rate, and pay off the debt before the offer expires.
- Be wary of payday/title loans.
Payday or title loans can be a quick way to access money if you have bad credit. They are notorious for gouging consumers with sky-high rates. In other words, you’ll end up paying much more than the amount you borrowed in the long run. And if you miss a payment, the fees aren’t pretty.
If you and your family qualify as low-income, relief is also available. There are a number of government programs that can help you meet at least some of your basic needs. Assistance is available that can provide cash, food, help with utilities, and medical treatment to you and your family. In New Mexico, residents can apply on the web, by downloading and mailing an application, or by visiting a field office in their community.
Remember that even in a financial emergency, you’re not alone. Help is always available! The following services are available for free for Nusenda members and the public at-large:
For Nusenda members, Money Manager is an online financial management tool that helps you get a clear picture of your financial situation, and can help you reach your financial goals. From tracking your spending, to setting saving goals, to paying your debt down faster — all in one place — you’re better equipped to plan for a healthy financial future.
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