Whatever the state of the economy, a personal financial crisis can strike at any time – all it takes is a job layoff, medical crisis, divorce, or other upheaval. According to a report by Pew Charitable Trusts, in the past year alone 60% of households faced a serious unexpected financial obstacle—and half of these households were unable to recover within six months.
Not only is a crisis financially draining, it can feel like the ground has been ripped from under you—making stress levels skyrocket. Though it may be hard to believe in the midst of a financial crisis, recovery is possible. To help, we’ve listed eight government, community, and online resources that can help you cover your living costs, feed your family, and get back on your feet.
Eight ways to find help with financial recovery after a crisis:
1. Unemployment insurance (UI)
When you’re employed, money is deducted from your paychecks to pay for unemployment insurance. If you lose your job, you can tap this insurance policy—which isn’t a handout, but rather a fund you’ve already paid into. Each state has its own qualifications and benefits, but if you lost your job through no fault of your own or are unable to work, you’re likely to be eligible. According to the New York Times, workers typically get 40-50% of their previous salary; here’s a how-to guide the newspaper put together. To apply for UI, visit the unemployment benefits website for your state.
2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
States use TANF, commonly referred to as welfare, to help families overcome financial obstacles to their well-being. Vulnerable families can apply to TANF for cash assistance, and may qualify for help with housing, food, job training, and child care—TANF ensures that American children get their most basic needs met, regardless of the economic status of their parents. Apply for TANF in your state here.
3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families, including those fallen on temporary hard times due to job loss, medical crisis, or other setbacks. Also referred to as food stamps (though in most states benefits are accessed through a scannable debit card) and funded by federal taxes, the program works with states, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to make sure families have enough to eat. Find out if you’re eligible here.
4. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
It’s hard enough raising babies and young children. Add in a financial crisis, and stress levels can skyrocket. Luckily, there’s help available. WIC is a short-term assistance program for families with young children. It supports low-income women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or parents of young children with free nutritious food, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support or baby formula. WIC clinics can also help with referrals to other support services. Find out if you qualify here.
For those facing an acute financial crisis, it can be a challenge to ask for—and receive—help. Creating a fundraiser is often an easier and less awkward way for people to ask friends and family for help getting back on their feet. Starting a fundraiser can also help secure funds faster than government programs—on YouCaring, for example, you get access to your funds throughout your fundraising campaign, not just at its conclusion. While there are several options, beware of fees that siphon off dollars that your friends and family would rather go to you. While sites such as GoFundMe and Facebook take 5% or more of your funds, YouCaring charges fundraisers no fees.
6. Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Acting on its mission to end poverty, this nonprofit takes a person-to-person approach to helping those in need of social services and financial assistance. They’re committed to helping people with housing, food, transportation, utilities, clothing, and medicine. Find out what services the Society offers in your area.
7. Net Wish
Since 2002, an anonymous businessman from Philadelphia has handed out aid to families finding themselves in a financial crisis. If you need short-term help with basic needs or bills, Net Wish can help. Instead of giving you cash directly, this nonprofit will send you a gift certificate or prepaid credit card up to $200. Make your wish here.
8. Gradient Gives Back
The Gradient Gives Back Foundation was founded to prevent families who’ve fallen on hard times from losing their homes. It awards mortgage or lease payment assistance to families across the United States. With the stress of a monthly mortgage payment relieved, families can catch up on other expenses such as medical bills. You can apply here.
With a little help, you can get the support you need to overcome a financial crisis. Take advantage of these resources if you need them. We’re all in this together.
For more tips read Tips for Building a Healthy Emergency Fund.