Struggling financially? Ask for help

If you’re secretly struggling with financial stress, you’re probably less alone than you think. And if you’re making ends meet, there’s a good chance you have friends or family who aren’t. In fact, almost half of all Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency.

Admitting that you’re treading water can be hard. As financial psychologist Brad Klontz told The Atlantic, “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems . . . Much more likely.” All the same, simply asking for help can save your finances in a big way.

Signs you may want to ask for help

“Sometimes people don’t reach out for medical attention until their health problems are severe and difficult to resolve,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). “When it comes to financial issues, the scenario can be very similar.”

Here are some warning signs that it may be time to reach out:

  • You have no money left over in your budget. If you have so little wiggle room in your budget that you can’t afford to pay more than the minimums on your debts or save anything for later, something might need to change.
  • You don’t have any savings at all. When you have barely any savings, even a minor financial emergency can spiral your finances into a dark place, McClary says.
  • You’re behind on your debt repayments. Ideally you’d reach out before the bills start catastrophically stacking up, but never feel that you’re too far gone to ask for help. Once your financial burden starts to feel unmanageable, start exploring your options.

Don’t wait until your financial situation is so dire that you can’t keep it to yourself anymore. McClary says that the earlier you reach out for help, the more options you may have, as the more delinquent you become, the less access you may have to options like credit card balance transfers, which generally require pretty good credit.

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