A financial crisis can build up slowly over time or come out of the blue, but it always demands a smart and swift response. There are plenty of effective techniques for restoring your financial health, and it’s important to use every tool at your disposal. Here are four of the best tips to help you survive a financial crisis.

Enroll in a Creditor Hardship Program

If debt is dramatically eating into your finances and you can’t make the minimum payments, it’s time to get proactive. You can request placement in your lender’s “hardship” program, which allows them to lower your monthly payments or offer other methods to help you handle your debt. Many credit card companies and mortgage lenders have these programs available. They are related to debt-management programs, where you can slash your interest rate if you sign up for a creditor plan that withdraws a certain amount of money from your bank account each month.

Cut Back Early

Many people have difficulty adjusting when a financial crisis hits suddenly, so making a budget that includes some sacrifices is essential. Cut down on eating out, start shopping at thrift stores, make coffee at home, and use coupons as much as possible. You should focus on only paying for essentials like utilities, rent, food, mortgage payments and insurance costs.

Dealing With Unemployment

For many, a financial crisis arises from losing a job or long-term unemployment. It’s important not to become despondent over your job loss and instead immediately file for unemployment, explore your professional network for opportunities, quickly file new job applications, and enroll in the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) plan to extend your employer’s health coverage. Although the premium may be higher than before, it will still be cheaper than paying for insurance on your own. Don’t be afraid to apply to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help you handle food costs.

Handling Debtors and Possession Agencies

You may have debt tied to collateral such as your car. Whenever there is an “involuntary” repossession, you will be hit with collection fees. By participating in a “voluntary” repossession and giving up your collateral preemptively, you can avoid many of the negative penalties.

When dealing with possession agencies and credit card companies, it’s a good idea to first speak with a credit counselor. Many belong to non-profit organizations like consumer protection agencies and offer free services. He or she can help guide you through any tough decisions like bankruptcy and debt settlement options.

Ultimately, nobody wants to go through a personal financial crisis. But, if you do, it’s the time to take your financial future into your own hands.