Have you recently lost your job and need money now for rent and bills. First of all, do not lose hope because of having to face crisis or an emergency. You are not alone. Thousands of families face it everyday, and those without enough savings get hit hardest as meeting the expenses becomes all the more difficult. Many turn to search for government grants that could help with rent and bills. It is true that the government strives to build robust support for low-income households and families needing help with a crisis. But unfortunately, there are no grants for rent and bills – note that there is assistance program for helping low-income families with rent. On the bright side, there are plenty of local resources you might find that help with the same.
How could one find a local resource?
Thankfully, one does not have to rack their brain or spend hours to find a local resource which could help. Call2-1-1 and get connected with your local United Way. The specialist on the other end of the line, with an extensive database of helpful information, can link you with a local governmental agency or an organization. Some other options are visiting a local church or going to a non-profit organization around you and get information on where one could receive rental assistance. Although not all organizations help with rent, they might know other places where such an assistance is offered.
Note that rental assistance is offered by the government through the housing choice voucher program. But the approval for the same does take time. When you are in the need of immediate assistance in a matter of few hours or days, you will find that organizations can be of greater help. On the other hand, if you feel your issues with affording rent are going to last a few more months from now, we urge you to apply for section 8 at the local county assistance office as soon as possible. You might also be able to apply online for all the government assistance programs if your state has online application in place. Having financial assistance while you are trying to weather a crisis could make a difference, and it is imperative that you make the most of whatever programs are in place in your state to help needy families.
Do check out grants.gov if you are particularly interested in the government grants. And also keep in mind that there is no need to pay anything to get information related to such grants. They are free and information on them is also free. Ignore advertisements that claim to get you 1000 dollar or 2000 dollar grants overnight. They are probably scams. In order to get food assistance and help with paying utility bills, look up SNAP and utility bill assistance programs in your state. There is help in most states for getting help with paying the heating and cooling costs of your home – look up LIHEAP.
For details on government assistance with rent, you can check out our special section on rental assistance in your state here:Paying rent while jobless
Save Money: It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask for Help
Your credit card payment is due, but this month you can’t make the payment on time. There is nothing you can do but wait until the next paycheck, but you assume the company has a grace period of at least a few days. When the next statement arrives, you see the credit company awarded you a hefty late fee of $40. Instead of saying, “Oh well, that’s life,” follow this classic rule: “It never hurts to ask.”
Call the company and explain the situation. Even companies who have a no- grace-period policy may be willing to forgive one late fee per year for every client. You saved $40, just for asking.
At the very least you should investigate the details, including grace periods, late fee charges, and penalties beyond the grace period, of every account you hold with creditors, including utilities. Some creditors charge you a late fee if you are one minute late, and others have grace period policies up to 30 days. The next time your money spreads a little too thin, you can decide which accounts to pay first, and always pay the ones with the biggest penalties.
Here are other situations when it might pay to ask for help:
- Do you have medical bills, but no health insurance (including Medicare/Medicaid)? Apply for assistance through the financial counselor at the hospital or medical clinic. Most hospitals will reduce the bill based on your income. They should also work with you to settle on a manageable monthly payment if you cannot pay the whole sum up front.
- Utilities should take priority. You can’t function very well without electricity and water. If you are in dire straights, call the company and ask for help. Some companies have special assistance programs for low income families or those going through financial crisis.
- If you lost your job or can prove some other type of financial hardship, you are in a good position to work out a deal with your creditors. They want you to keep making payments, so they will work with you to settle on a manageable monthly payment plan. They will probably remove late fees and knock down the interest rate as well. If the credit company wants you to close the card to grant such favorable terms, think twice. It could hurt your credit score. Consult a financial advisor, or at least look at the big picture (which would be the lesser evil) before you proceed.
-Never skim over bank or credit card statements, loan agreements, or any other financial document. If you notice a discrepancy or do not understand something, it never hurts to ask. That discrepancy might be a charge made in error or a red flag that someone has stolen your account information. Understand all the details of any financial agreement, including fees, penalties, and interest rates, before you sign your name.
Don’t ask friends or family for help except for the biggest emergencies – like when your house burns down, or a tornado blows it away. Borrowing from friends and family may negatively affect your relationships. And don’t borrow money for an “emergency” unless you have already looked for all other ways to cut down on spending. That friend who loaned you money to save your house from foreclosure might have a problem when he finds out you took a vacation to Florida.
The above suggestions are meant to help you save money, not to dodge responsibilities or enable a lifestyle of overspending. However, many of us are dealing with lower incomes, higher inflation, less credit availability, and added expenses. Along with careful budgeting and financial planning, asking for help is one way to keep your financial boat afloat.