These are uncertain times, and it feels like many people are hanging on by a thread, be it financially, mental health-wise, and so on. Unfortunately, it is fairly common for Americans to be confronted with a waterfall of problems that can go under-recognized whether it’s due to a poor infrastructure that offers little support, shame, and other complex issues rooted in socio-cultural attitudes. It might only get worse given the pandemic, which is seeing an unemployment rate topping the numbers generated by even The Great Depression, which sadly means that plenty of people are staring down a few years of uncertainty which will not only impact their financial situation but will creep into other areas in their life. If you’re currently in a tough bind and unsure of what to do next, then this article is for you.
Losing Your Job
If you’ve recently been fired, laid off, or furloughed, then you might be worried about what the next steps could be, and rightfully so. However, there are a few steps you can take straight away.
First off, check online for the state of Ohio’s regulations regarding unemployment benefits since each state has its own set of criteria that must be met. If you qualify, apply immediately. Also look into applying for food stamps, especially if you have children since grocery shopping for a family can cost a great deal, adding another burden to your finances. If you do not qualify for food stamps, then see if there is a food bank that operates in your area. There’s no shame in asking for help, and there are plenty of ways in which governmental entities and private charities would be willing to offer you assistance during a rough time.
Second, you can look into applying for freelance gigs while you wait for the dust to settle. For example, do not hesitate to set up an account for yourself online on any of the task-oriented sites to allow future employers to find you and secure your assistance. You can look into editing work, working as a consultant for nonprofits, turn your car into an Uber or Lyft service, and so on. Of course, these are all difficult decisions but know that you have options and that things will pan out for you eventually, with a little focus and hard work.
Finally, as you submit copies of your resume to other jobs, you might be anxious as to how you can explain being laid off to a future employer. Don’t worry too much about this; if it was due to the pandemic then you won’t have to explain things at all. If it was due to your division being restructured, then that’s all you have to say. Be direct and explain things as simple as possible while highlighting your strengths.
Battling Depression and Anxiety
So many people suffer from depression and anxiety on their own, feeling very isolated and ashamed to bring up their problems to even the closest people around them. Family and friends might not even realize for a long time that anything could be amiss, and people with depression often deal with it in total silence. The fact that American culture places such a premium on success and happiness creates a deep stigma around the issue, with many reluctant to seek help. Also, there is the constant misperception that seeking therapy is a luxury that only the upper classes can and should afford. Of course, this isn’t true, and there are many resources available to help lift you out of a mental health crisis. Search online for ‘therapists – sliding scale payments’ in your area, and many would be willing to offer you a free consultation over the phone before you decide to commit. And, the sliding scale means you don’t need insurance and can simply pay what you can afford. Furthermore, if you are having suicidal thoughts or feel particularly lonely, then call the National Hotline at 1800-273-8255 immediately; they are available 24/7.
Finally, there are many apps and tools available for free online that might help you with anxiety or depression. You can invest in meditation apps, look up Yoga Nidra sessions on YouTube, or pay a flat monthly rate for therapy sessions online. There are different ways of coping, and luckily, more resources are available nowadays.
Getting debt under control might be the biggest issue many people face. Depending on your situation, there are a few approaches you can undertake:
The Snowball Method
This form of debt repayment is a particularly powerful strategy that is used to help tackle piles of debt in different corners. If you owe money on more than one account, then you can start by paying off the smaller balances first while paying the minimum on larger debts. This is a very focused way of paying off debts and it can be extremely helpful when it comes to repaying revolving debts on credit cards for example.
The Avalanche Method
With this method, you will work to pay off the accounts you have in the order of highest interest rate to the lowest. So, for example, you would make the minimum payments on all your accounts, while also putting as much extra money as possible towards the account with the highest interest rate. Then, once the debt with the highest interest is paid off, you start paying as much as you can on the account with the next highest interest rate, continuing the process till all your debts are paid.
If things become much too difficult for you to manage, with home repayments, cars, and so on, then you can look into your bankruptcy options, and pay special attention to local laws since the filing process can depend on state regulations. Consult with a lawyer and find out if your situation fits the bill. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will be able to tell you what you qualify for and even advise you on how to make the best of the situation long after you file. With the proper guidance, you will be able to emerge from this far better money wise than ever before.
If there’s one last piece of parting advice to go by, it’s to not freak out. Don’t panic over things you cannot control – a bad economy, getting furloughed in the midst of a pandemic, etc. Just stay focused and positive. You will get out of this, but it will take time, hard work, and faith in your capabilities.