4 Tips for Surviving a Financial Crisis

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated December 4, 2019

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Personal Finance
July 21, 2015

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

During a financial crisis, your credit score could take a huge hit. Most negative items stay on your credit report for 7 years (and bankruptcies can last longer), so the effects of this crisis can be felt for years later. If your score has suffered, here are some tips to help you raise it up again:

  • If possible, pay off as much debt as possible. The amount of debt you carry has a direct impact on your credit score.
  • Make sure there are no mistakes on your credit reports, and if there are, file the proper paperwork with the credit bureaus to get them fixed.
  • Open a new credit card that reports to all three bureaus. The amount of credit you have on-hand also directly impacts your credit score.
  • Credit repair companies will contest negative items on your credit reports in order to get them removed. This strategy doesn’t always work for everyone, but if you really need to raise your score, it can be worth a shot.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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