Emergency Financial Assistance Guide: Tips for Getting Help When You Need It Most
Are you in need of financial assistance because of a layoff or reduced hours caused by the global pandemic COVID-19? Or did you get financially impacted from a natural disaster such as a tornado, blizzard, or hurricane? You’re not alone! Millions of Americans may find themselves worrying about how to pay their bills. Don’t lose sleep; read this emergency financial assistance guide and learn how to get help with bills.
There are plenty of resources out there that will help you if you are in need of emergency financial assistance. This article will give you a general guide on how you can stay afloat, pay your bills, and eventually achieve financial security with emergency financial assistance.
5 Reasons Why You Need Emergency Financial Assistance
When you have a steady job, it’s easy to feel like you can pay all your bills. However, when an emergency happens, you can get suck in a financial hole. How do you know when you may need emergency financial assistance? Take a look at these 5 reasons why you may need emergency financial assistance: does your situation apply? If yes, then you may need financial help.
1. You Lost Your Job Because of COVID-19 or Another Global Crisis
Millions of Americans lost their job because of forced business shut downs caused by COVID-19. During a pandemic or any other global crisis, it is necessary for non-essential businesses like movie theaters, salons, personal photography, concert venues, and more to shut down. If you were one of the people impacted by COVID-19 business shut downs, or you are self-employed and you cannot work because of the pandemic, then you may need emergency financial assistance.
2. You’re Using Your Savings
If you are using your savings in order to stay on top of bills, then you are not financially secure. If you have to transfer money out of your savings fund once in a while, or routinely, then you may be in need of emergency financial assistance.
3. You Think You Have a Bleak Future
When you are financially secure, you don’t have a doubt in your mind that you will be able to pay your next month’s routine bills. However, if you think that you may not be able to pay your next month’s bills due to being low in funds, then you may need emergency financial assistance. It’s time for you to realize that you can have a good financial future.
4. You’re Racking Up Credit Card Debt
Are you utilizing credit cards for everyday spending like food, gas, and utility bills? Yes, some people utilize credit cards to gain travel points and rewards dollars; but if you are using your credit cards because you have no other option, then you need emergency financial assistance. Don’t think about racking up your credit card debt anymore. It will only harm your financial security in the long run, rather than help.
5. You Depleted Your Emergency Funds
Many Americans have a “rainy day” fund. Some have a jar where they keep coins and extra dollars from cash transactions they made. However, if you used to have some emergency funds and you no longer do because of a crisis or being in poor financial shape, then you may need help. Getting emergency financial assistance will help you build your emergency funds. Eventually you may even be able to have the recommended 6 months of savings.
3 Things to Do Before Asking for Emergency Financial Assistance
Don’t start making decisions immediately after getting into a financial crisis. Instead, look at your situation from afar, and pick up your pieces with a calm mind. Don’t make rash decisions and fall into more credit card debt, or other bad financial situations. Instead look at the following 3 things to do before asking for emergency financial assistance:
1. Write down your options
Instead of thinking you will never be able to get out of your financial hole, realize that there are ways you can get help. Take out a pen and paper and write down logical ways you can get emergency financial assistance through legitimate ways.
2. Ask for advice
Do you know anyone that has been in your shoes before, or someone who works in the financial-related industries? If yes, try asking them for advice. If this person is someone you can trust to listen to your story and give you sound advice, then don’t hesitate. They may give you good words that will help you before asking for emergency financial assistance.
3. Reassess your budget
You may need to cut out some non-essential expenses from your budget. You may not need that big cable package, or any cable at all. You may need to downgrade your phone plan (or look into a prepaid mobile service such as Hello Mobile, who has rock-bottom prepaid phone plan prices).
2 Ways to Get Emergency Financial Assistance
After doing the above 3 things to help get yourself in a calm and sound mind, you may be ready to ask for emergency financial assistance. There are various bills you may be struggling to pay: medical, food, childcare, or any other costs. Know that there may be a government assistance program that will help you pay for these costs when you need it the most.
1. Government Assistance Programs
There are various government assistance programs available for citizens who need help paying their bills. Whether you suddenly find yourself in need of emergency financial assistance, or you have slowly dwindling funds, there are programs that may help. These financial government assistance programs are essential in helping you get financially secure.
Government food programs
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or formerly known as food stamps, will help you buy the food and groceries you need in order to maintain proper nutrition and health. The program provides a debit-like card where monthly funds are loaded onto. You use this card as your payment method at stores, and even some grocery pickup and delivery services. With your benefits, you can buy fruit, vegetables, cereals, meats, fish, poultry, bread and more. SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. To qualify, visit your local SNAP office, or this website.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, is run by federal grants given by the government, which is distributed among a state level. The program provides each state with several grants to operate its government program. The program assists by helping you pay your basic monthly needs including housing, bills, food, and job preparation. Ask your local TANF agency for help applying for this emergency financial assistance. Use this website to locate your nearest TANF program office.
Government utility help programs
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), is a federally-funded government assistance program that will help you with various housing bills. If you qualify, you could get emergency financial assistance with the following:
- Past-due bill payment
- Energy crises
- Weatherization and home repairs
- Heating and cooling energy bills
Government housing programs
- Sometimes referred as Section 8, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal government assistance program that will help you with housing and rent costs. If you are struggling to pay your rent or housing costs, and you need emergency financial assistance in that category, then look into this program. If you are eligible for this program, you will receive help with a voucher that you can use to rent your home. You can use it to rent a new home, or use it for the home you already live in. You do not need to move into a subsidized house. You can use the voucher as your form of rent payment on either an apartment, townhome, or single family house.
- Another housing assistance program is called the Public Housing Assistance Program. This government benefit provides you with rental housing. This form of emergency financial assistance will provide you with public housing in either an apartment, townhome, or single family house.
Government medical programs
- Medicaid or Medicare are two separate government benefit programs that will help you have a special health insurance program run by the federal government. Both programs are funded by separate parts of the government and serve two different groups of people. You can have Medicare if you are 65-years-old and over, or if you have a disability. Or, you can have Medicaid if you have low income. You could be eligible for both programs. Either program will provide you with quality health insurance when you need emergency financial assistance.
- Getting healthcare insurance through the Marketplace at Healthcare.gov is a valuable tool to help you pay for your healthcare costs. The marketplace offers affordable or benefit-discounted health insurance plans for underinsured Americans. Usually you can only apply for this free benefit during open enrollment periods, but if you lost your health insurance due to COVID-19, or any other reason, then you can apply for a special enrollment.
Government phone assistance
- The Lifeline Assistance Program, or sometimes called “the Obama phone program”, is another government benefit program. This program will provide you with basic telecommunication services, such as a free cell phone and free monthly minutes to use for talking and texting. There are several Lifeline service phone providers, including Q Link Wireless, who gives you the following once you apply and are approved for the program:
- A free cell phone
- 3 GB free data
- 1000 free minutes
- Unlimited texting
- The ability to use your own cell phone
- The ability to add more minutes and data every month for a small upcharge
2. Nonprofit Emergency Financial Assistance
There are also several nonprofit programs and grants that will help you with emergency financial assistance. A nonprofit program is dedicated to help those in need, and rely on shareholders and donations to operate. These programs can help with food, housing and rent, medical costs, and even child care assistance. Read below for nonprofit programs that can help with emergency financial assistance.
Nonprofit food assistance
- One of the biggest nonprofit food assistance programs is Feeding America. This program provides emergency financial assistance in the form of food donations to people in need. There are hundreds of food banks and thousands of food pantries available. Chances are, you can find a meal program from Feeding America in your community. Check out their website to find your local agency.
Nonprofit utility assistance
- For emergency financial assistance with your utility bills, look into Modest Needs. This nonprofit organization provides help with housing costs and utility bills in the form of grants. This program dedicates itself to helping Americans get the financial security they need in order to pay their utility bills.
- United Way has a program called 2-1-1, which helps connect you with various programs and advice centered around emergency financial assistance. One of their biggest ways they can help is point you in the direction in getting help with your utility bills. All you need to do to get help is call 211 from your phone, or find your local 211 agency here.
Nonprofit housing assistance
- Community Action Partnership is a nonprofit organization that helps thousands of people find housing. It also provides assistance with finding other emergency financial assistance programs.
Nonprofit medical assistance
- The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) helps you with finding and acquiring health care, especially when in need of emergency financial assistance. The program helps with financial assistance for pregnant women, financial surgery assistance, and getting health care through medical clinics.
Don’t Be Afraid to Look for Emergency Financial Assistance
There are many programs available to help you when you are in need of emergency financial assistance. It is up to you to sign up for them. Don’t be afraid or ashamed in asking for help. As a provider for yourself and your family, you should take advantage of these programs to help you pay your bills and find financial security.
Sign up for programs when in need, and look for help in the unexpected. These programs will help you get back on your feet, and are pretty easy to sign up for. Keep in mind that some may require proof of eligibility, but in general, they are easy to qualify for.
One of the easiest programs to apply to is the Lifeline Assistance Program through Q Link Wireless.This program will not run a credit check on you, and will never make you sign a contract. Signing up can be done in just minutes, and in the long run, you will get emergency financial assistance on your phone bills. To sign up for service, click here now.