Guest Author Ashley Ray explains how we can cope with financial burdens during this time of crisis
The chief cause of stress among Americans is money. That is truer now more than ever, with 9 in 10 Americans experiencing financial stress during this time of crisis. In particular, 41% of those surveyed by the Harris Poll reported feeling anxious about not having enough money, while another 41% are worried about their emergency savings being depleted. Locally, 25% of Nebraska adults and 27% of Iowans live in households where it has been somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses during the coronavirus pandemic.
During these difficult times, it may be hard to know what to do or where to turn when you’re under financial stress. But United Way can help! We invest in more than 115 nonprofit programs that provide basic needs, education and financial stability services, providing a circle of support that can help you tackle multiple challenges at once and get back on your feet.
Get Help Paying Mortgage, Rent or Utilities Bills to Stay on Budget
The Balance’s guide to personal finance notes that budgeting “is your best tool to change your financial future”, as it allows you to create a spending plan relative to your monthly income. You can start by writing down what you typically earn each month, followed by all your expenses. Then, subtract your expenses from your income to find out your discretionary spending (i.e., money for your wants). Next, figure out how to wisely use your discretionary spending and then monitor whether or not you’re sticking to the budget.
But what happens when you encounter a decrease in income – or your expenses rise? If your finances have been impacted by COVID-19, United Way’s CARES Housing Stability program can help. Through this program, eligible Nebraskans who have experienced a COVID-19-related hardship can receive assistance with rent, mortgage and utilities. Funds can be used to pay all or any part of an eligible applicant’s utility, mortgage or rental expenses that were incurred after April 1, 2020, including late fees and back payments. These funds will be paid directly to the landlord, mortgage holder or utility company on behalf of the applicant.
To learn more or apply, visit https://www.unitedwaymidlands.org/cares/ or contact United Way’s 211 Helpline by calling 211 or texting your zip code to 898211.
Confide in someone
Too often, people dealing with financial hardships bottle things up, perhaps out of shame or maybe due to feelings of embarrassment. Doing so can exacerbate the matter, which is why HelpGuide recommends that you talk to someone you trust about your financial problems. In this way, you’ll have an outlet to relieve some of that stress.
At United Way, we prioritize supporting programs that deliver evidence-based mental health services and trauma-informed practices to individuals going through difficult times. We work to break down the barriers to mental healthcare access, and we know it’s crucial that our community works together to fight stigma, share knowledge and support those with mental health challenges. Especially during this time of uncertainty, we want you to know that we’re here for you.
To learn more about local mental health resources that can help you manage stress or other mental health challenges, please visit our mental health awareness blog for a complete list.
Tackle Debt & Learn Other Financial Management Strategies
In a recent study, Dr. Thomas Richardson confirmed the debt-stress connection, pointing out how the stress debt can adversely impact one’s mental health. Thus, it’s crucial to identify sustainable and strategic solutions to get out of debt. The best way to do this is by simplifying your repayment processes. For example, Marcus’ guide to personal loans outlines how you can consolidate your debt to pay a lower overall interest rate and make fewer payments monthly. This will streamline your monthly budget and make it more manageable.
There are a number of nonprofit programs in the metro area that can help you learn financial management techniques like these to decrease debt, increase your credit score and secure financial assets. You can visit the 211 database at www.ne211.org to find a program that fits your needs or call the 211 Helpline to speak to a Helpline Specialist.
COVID-19 has affected so many of us financially, physically and mentally. If you are struggling and don’t know where to turn, United Way and its partners can help.
If you’re in need of counseling, food pantries, utility assistance or another human service, our 2-1-1 Helpline is here for you. Simply call 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898211 to find local programs that will help you address challenges by providing basic needs, education and financial supports.
About the Author:
Ashley Ray is passionate about helping others live more minimalist lifestyles. She writes about a range of topics, which include design, finance, and mental health. When she’s not working on her latest piece, you’ll find her tending to her indoor garden.
About United Way’s Manager of Communications
Brayton is the Manager of Communications at United Way of the Midlands. She spends most of her days writing press releases, letters, brochures and more, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! She loves to travel and is always daydreaming about her next adventure. When she’s at home, you’ll most likely find her hanging out with her family and friends, eating chocolate or reading a good book.
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