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.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Afghan women

NBC

Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

Keep reading Show less

Stacker

Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.