Over the course of the last couple of years, I had more money conversations with friends and family than in any other year prior. I head about incomes being slashed, jobs being lost, savings being tapped, unemployment claims submitted, and all that other fun stuff. Whether in normal times or extreme circumstances, a sudden shift in your world, and especially your wallet, can bring with it a mountain of stress and panic. But take it from someone who has been down that road more than once: stressing out isn’t going to help.
After receiving alarming financial news, the first thing you need to do is remain calm, or at least do your best to. Take a deep breath, take several, and consider talking to someone you trust. A spouse, a family member, or a close friend; just telling someone out loud “I’m in a money problem and I’m scared” can be a relief.
Once you’ve calmed down, you need to make a plan. It’s okay if it’s not right this second; you might want to sleep on it first just to ensure you’re levelheaded about it. Once you’re in an even state, start looking at the facts: has your primary source of income been impacted? Do you have savings to fall back on? Can you file for some kind of assistance like unemployment? Are you in danger of losing your home? It’s a bit of a scary checklist to go down, but when your finances have been impacted in a major way, you need to take stock.
When you’ve got the facts, start going into the nitty-gritty: is there anything you can cut out to save money? How much time will you have until you’re in a dire situation? If you lost your job, do you know someone who could get you a new one? You gotta keep it real, and work toward solutions, or at least the beginnings of solutions. Once you’ve got your plan in place, then you can have a quick little freakout if it makes you feel better, but right after that, you gotta put that plan in motion. Don’t sit around stewing in misery, that’ll only make the situation worse.