There is no such thing as a “good” time for a crisis of any kind. Especially one that results in a serious hit to your finances.
Any financial crisis can feel overwhelming and make you feel like you’ll never be in a position to get back what you’ve lost or make future financial progress.
I’ve been through financial crises myself and I’ve worked with clients who have gone through them too. I can tell you from personal and professional experience that the best way to deal with any financial crisis is to start by identifying the fears that are keeping you stuck.
This will help you separate facts from fears. And then you can create a plan to move forward and get back to a place of financial stability.
Here’s how you do it…
Take a Deep Breath and Know That In the End, You’ll Be Alright
I know it doesn’t feel that way right now, but it’s true. And it may be hard to see that very faint light at the end of the tunnel. But I promise you, it is there.
Facing your financial difficulties can be tough. You may be so overwhelmed by whatever landed you here that you just want to curl up in a ball and ignore everything.
I get this. Trust me, I’ve felt that way many times myself – especially during this past year.
But you can’t ignore the situation or it will get worse. You can take a day or two to give yourself some space. But sooner than later you’ll need to take that deep breath, open your eyes, and look seriously at your financial challenges. And then you’ll be able to start figuring out what you need to change to get yourself back on the path to financial security.
And there’s a bright side to this… You may be in better financial shape than you thought and you may have access to resources you didn’t realize you had.
Different Crises Will Hit Your Finances in Different Ways
There is no one way to recover from a financial crisis, no matter what you’ve seen on Instagram or TikTok. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your situation is unique to you.
That said, there are some fairly common problems everyone in certain kinds of crisis situations will face.
A sudden medical emergency or unexpected illness will be a serious drain on your finances. Worse, health problems often leave you with no idea of how much they’ll cost, what insurance will or won’t cover, and when you’ll have to pay. That is one of the most frustrating parts of our broken healthcare system. It’s infuriating and frightening. And it has nothing to do with you… it’s just a messed up system.
You can still plan for the medical bills you think may be coming and adjust as you find out what the real costs may be.
On top of all that, you’ll need to realistically estimate how much you’ll be able to work to bring in more money and replenish your finances. That’s true whether you’re the one who is injured or sick, or you’re taking care of a loved one going through a health crisis. Everything will take longer and cost more than you expect. So make sure to plan for that too.
Divorce hits as an emotional crisis and a financial one at the same time.
Even in the best of circumstances, you’re likely to have immediate financial setbacks. And you’ll almost always face higher expenses because it just costs more to maintain two households.
You will be spending money, probably more than you expect, and your financial priorities will change. Whether you’re suddenly supporting yourself and your kids, or you have to replace dozens of household items, or you have to pay for child care, those expenses will eat up a huge chunk of your income. Not to mention all the lawyer fees that can pile up.
And on top of the financial crisis, personal issues are going to crop up and emotions will be running high. That can cause you to make choices that may not be in the best interest of your long-term financial health.
A death in the family or of someone close to you is likely to bring up a lot of financial stress at a time when it’s the last thing you want to deal with.
Whether you are the spouse or child left behind or you are the executor of someone’s estate, there are a lot of money-related issues you’ll need to untangle. This includes figuring out how to cope financially in many situations.
You may or may not know much about the departed’s financial situation. And you may or may not know which bills and other monthly expenses are taken care of automatically and which have to be paid manually.
It’s okay to take your time with this. You can separate out what is absolutely necessary to deal with immediately from what you can leave for a few months. Still, you need to these financial problems as soon as you can face them.
Losing your jobis a serious shock, especially if you’re the primary earner in your household. Along with the sudden financial difficulties comes the emotional fallout of feeling like you “did something wrong” or “should have done more” regardless of the circumstances.
Plus, there’s the issue of losing benefits you and your family may have counted on, like health care and other job-related perks.
Figuring out how you can replace the income and the benefits as soon as possible will be your top financial priorities. Hopefully you’ll be able to find a new job quickly… but that’s not always the case.
Dealing with the Overwhelm
All of these problems can feel utterly overwhelming. And so can any other financial stress that you’re facing.
Taking the time to address your fears and create a plan will help you recover faster. It will help you keep moving forward so you can come out of this financial crisis in a stronger, more stable position.
Here are a few simple steps you can follow to keep your head above water and get yourself on the road to financial recovery as quickly as possible.
Step #1: Understand that There Will Be Fallout from Your Financial Crisis
When you’re in a financial crisis, you may not have the luxury of time to make “the best decisions.” Accept this and make the best decisions you can in the moment.
My grandmother always said that “everything costs more and takes longer than you expect.” This is especially true during a crisis.
You may have to pay more for many things than you would have if you had time to shop around. Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you’ve overpaid for something because you need to deal with it right now, instead of having the luxury of searching for the best price.
Also, know that financial fallout could come in a variety of forms, depending on which type of crisis you’re going through. Your issues may be different than someone else’s, but there are some common financial problems everyone will face, including:
- Extra expenses specific to your emergency
- Increased use of your credit card to cover regular expenses
- Watching your credit score drop
- Being unable to pay all of your bills
- Raiding retirement accounts and other savings accounts
- Difficulty meeting your basic needs
This is just a basic list – you could be facing other issues. Again, they will depend on your situation and personal circumstances.
The most important thing to remember is that this situation is temporary. Your emergency will end and so will the financial fallout.
Once that happens, you can get your finances back on track with time and a solid plan. This is not a permanent situation and you can get yourself out of it.
Step #2: Recognize Your Financial Fears
Fear can overwhelm you when you’re in a financial crisis. It can keep you stuck in a bad situation. It can lead you to make panic-based decisions that may seem right in the moment but are horrible for your finances in the long run.
Fear can also keep you from making the important decisions you must make to reclaim control of your financial situation and help you move forward.
The best way to overcome your financial fears is to recognize and accept them. Your fears – and all of your feelings – are valid. But if you ignore them or downplay them, it can interfere with your financial recovery.
Acknowledge your feelings and accept that you can work through them, so you can overcome the ones that are so powerful they can affect your actions.
Some common financial fears include:
- “I’m going to lose everything”
- “I’m letting everyone I love down”
- “I have no idea how I’ll manage”
- “I’ll never be able to retire/stop working”
- “I’ll never be able to save money”
- “I’m going to end up out on the street or living in my car”
Your fears may be listed here, or they may be totally different. Either way, they can trigger your body’s stress hormones and send your emotions into overdrive. They can also affect your health and decision-making processes.
The best thing you can do is to take the time to list the things you fear, so you can move past them. This is the first step toward transforming those fears into positive action, so you can get on the road to financial recovery.
Step #3: Face Your Situation, So You Can Make a Plan to Change It
The only way you can get through your financial crisis is to face it head-on. Once you’ve acknowledged and accepted your situation, you’ll be able to repair it.
I know this sounds weird and may be hard to do in the moment, but it’s an important step forward.
You may feel like accepting things as they are is accepting that you’ve failed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Every step forward you take, no matter how small, to fix your current financial situation is a win. The more small wins you achieve, the easier your financial recovery becomes.
Your first step is to download my Financial Fears Inventory Worksheet.
This will walk you through the process of identifying your financial fears, then separating your feelings, thoughts, facts and actions, so you can make a plan for your financial recovery.
It will also help you identify the resources you have access to, such as friends and family social services, as well as some resources and extra money you may have forgotten about.
Click on the button below to get your Financial Fears Inventory Worksheet now.
Yes, what you’re going through is terrifying. Yes, you have every right to be afraid. But your first and best step forward is to identify those fears and put them in their correct place, so you can deal with the ones that are real and find solutions to make sure they never happen.