So, today’s post is not something I’m happy to write about. Unfortunately for us, my husband and I are going through a really difficult time right now. Within the last few days, we’ve discovered that one of my bank card numbers was stolen and the account was subsequently emptied within 24 hours. Then, we went to get our taxes done, and discovered that we owe an entire month’s worth of bills to the government.
It’s an incredibly frustrating situation. For the entire time that we’ve been together, we’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. We save what we can here and there, but it’s not something we can do consistently. I’m sure a lot of you who’ve graduated college in the past ten years or so have an idea of what it’s like. One time I found an article that said you’re supposed to only use 50% of your paycheck to pay bills and I laughed out loud. What an absurd number when you’ve got over $100,000 in student loan debt (I’m keeping that goal in mind once our loans are paid off, but for now it’s not something we can manage).
Anyway, after going through the ordeal we’ve just been through, I’ve come up with a few steps to surviving this incredibly stressful situation.
1. Process your Emotions
Before you try to figure it out, give yourself enough time to fully process your emotions about the situation. If you need to cry, or vent, or be completely silent, do so. DO NOT try to make any decisions when you’re hysterical and stressed out. Let your mind run through the possible options while you’re doing something else. Remind yourself of what’s important. You can always earn more money. Even though this may feel like your life is falling apart, you can bounce back. Think about all of the things you still have.
*Remember, if you are going through this situation with a significant other, that they will have their own way of dealing with the situation, too. Don’t yell at them if they need to vent and you need silence. How you deal with stressful situations together is a very important part of a relationship, and your relationship should come first.
2. Question the Debt
If you owe, is there any way you can fight or lower the amount owed? Can you request a payment plan?
If your employer didn’t take enough taxes out, try using this IRS Withholding Calculator to find out what they should take out. If it’s different from what you’re paying, then you should print out the final page and take it in to your employer and ask them to change the amount.
If your money had been stolen, call your bank immediately and ask what the necessary steps are to getting your money back. Also, change all of your passwords, especially if you use the same one for everything (which I was guilty of prior to this instance).
3. Check your Money
Take a hard look at your financial situation. Is there any wiggle room? Do you have money saved up for something that can be put off? Can you fit a second job into your schedule to help get money together quickly? Are you willing to? Is there anything you’ve been considering selling in order to get a little more money? Now might be the time to do that. Most people who get their paychecks biweekly will normally have two months out of the year where they’ll get an extra paycheck. If you happen to be in the month that this occurs for you, do some checking to see if you can use that money.
4. Swallow your Pride
Once you’ve exhausted all of your options that you can handle on your own, consider outside help. Not everyone has access to family members who would be able to spare any money, but it is a possibility for some. In a situation like this, don’t let your pride get in the way of protecting your family. If you can find someone to lend you some money, do so.
Have you ever had to deal with something like this? What other tips do you have for someone going through this situation? Let me know in the comments below!