When To Ask For Financial Help
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 TheAtlantic'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 centeryou can find a specialist who can help guide you through the application process.
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.
- Money Talk: How and When to Ask for Financial Help - PayPath ›
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Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.