Photo by Sam Truong Dan on Unsplash

We've seen the statistics: 1 in 8 Americans live below the poverty line. 71 million have accrued debt in collections. 55 million of us don't have anything saved in an emergency fund. An estimated 40 percent struggle to cover basic needs like food and housing costs.

We know money struggles are widespread, but the culture of shame surrounding financial instability prevents us from talking about it on a personal level. And that makes it especially hard to ask for help when we need it most.

One recent study found that we're almost twice as likely to disclose problems in our relationship rather than share details of our credit card debt. But financial problems don't just take a toll on our bank accounts, they can impact our mental health as well.

"Financial impotence casts a pall of misery. It keeps you up at night and makes you not want to get up in the morning. It forces you to recede from the world," writes The Atlantic's Neal Gabler, in an essay about his firsthand experiences with financial hardship. "It eats at your sense of self-worth, your confidence, your energy, and, worst of all, your hope."

Researchers have linked mounting debt with anxiety and depression which can take a toll on all aspects of your life from relationships to career ambitions and even self-esteem.

"It's easier to feel extra guilt and extra pain when you assume it's just you," Michelle Waymire, founder of the financial advice site Young + Scrappy, tells GirlBoss. "You assume it's a character flaw. There are a lot of forces working against you, and those are not necessarily your fault."

But the more shame you feel about your money struggles, the more likely you are to deny the root problem. So how do you know when it's time to ask for help? According to Debt.org, there are some red flags that signal you're in over your head and it's time to reach out for assistance. In addition fear, panic, anger and depression over a lack of financial control—all of which can lead to more binge-spending to temporarily relieve the discomfort—there are some everyday, denial-based responses to watch out for, including:

— Underestimating how much you owe.

— Not answering the phone when you suspect a collection agency is calling.

— Leaving bills unopened or just stuffing them in a drawer.

— Opening a new credit card when your old one is maxed out.

Remember: The Average American household is over $130,000 in debt, according to the Federal Reserve, which means you're not alone. But that fact also doesn't make the problem go away. If you're in a desperate financial situation that's impacting your everyday life, it's time to seek financial help. So what are your options?

Reach out to Friends or Family Members

There's no shame in asking for help from loved ones, but you want to be prepared emotionally and practically. If you're approaching a friend or family member about money, be clear about what your needs are—whether it's a loan or just plain guidance on how to move forward. Either way, it's important to have a game plan and a drive for solutions.

"Start by mentioning your goals and how you've been focused on improving your finances yourself, which shows you've been thinking of your future and are solutions-driven," advises Mint's Farnoosh Torabi. "Next, bring up how you've been working towards these goals."

That may mean coming to the table with a draft of your budget and intentions to cut down on your expenses. If you're asking for advice, come prepared with questions about paying off debt as well as career-related ideas you can bounce off your advisor. If you're asking for money, Torabi suggests providing a plan of action for the money you'd be borrowing, and a self-created document that outlines a payback plan. "Create a simple agreement that includes the amount of the loan and terms like interest and payment dates," he writes. "Sign and date it." This will not only make your loved one feel more comfortable with the terms, but will give you a sense of control and structure with respect to returning the money you've borrowed.

Talk to an expert

Not everyone has the luxury of asking for financial support from loved ones—and even if you do, you might not be comfortable with making the ask. The good news is that there are some resources you might not even know exist.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling provides credit and debt counseling services for very low fees. The non-profit organization matches you with a specialist who will help you understand your options—from basic budgeting to student loan payment options and creating a debt-management plan. The Foundation for Financial Planning is another resource that pairs pro bono financial advisors with those in need of immediate help.

Do Your Research

With a little internet research, you might be able to get your finances on the right path. There are government programs designed to help individuals cover their household bills—from energy costs to telephone services. By contacting your state human services agency or local health center you can find a specialist who can help guide you through the application process.

Meanwhile, Healthfinder.gov and Medlineplus.gov provide help for covering prescription drug and other medical expenses.

Depending on what state you live in, you may qualify for financial support in other areas like daycare (New York City, for example, offers city-funded childcare) and grants to keep your small business afloat.

The most important thing to remember is that you're not alone, and there's no shame in asking for help. You've got this.

Subscribe to PayPath Newsletter
PayPath
Follow Us on

I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

Advertisement