The first thing you should do is change your spending habits. Cut back on unnecessary expenses to focus on necessities and unexpected costs. This means making tough decisions about what you need and what you can do without until things get back to normal. If you don’t already have well-funded emergency savings, pull from regular savings, sell unneeded items, and rearrange your regular budget.
If you are struggling to make debt payments during a personal or economic crisis, it’s wise to reach out to your lender. It’s likely that they will be willing to work with you. The last thing you want to do is miss payments or hide from your lender, as that could force them to send your debt to collections, which will have a negative impact on your credit score.
If you qualify, there are government programs that can help you get back on your feet. Options like SNAP, CHIP, Medicaid, short-term unemployment benefits, and TANF can make a big difference. To learn more, check out this article about government assistance programs.
Jumping to hysteria or mass panic buying isn’t going to help you or anyone else in an emergency situation. Even if everyone insists you need 200 rolls of toilet paper, make sure that you take a step back and do your research before contributing to shortages or maxing out your emergency fund on something that you don’t actually need. Think carefully about the money you have available and how you can manage it effectively in times of crisis.
If you see that there are others who have been more affected by an emergency situation than you have, consider donating to relief efforts. That can mean purchasing things for someone in your community, carefully researching and giving to a charity, donating your time or items to relief organizations, supporting local businesses, and more. Hard times affect all of us, but they are much easier when we come together and lift one another up.
While tough times are never ideal, good preparation and thoughtful financial decisions can help you and your funds weather the storm.