This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet. Scaling back streaming subscriptions is solid savings advice for some. But what if the choice you’re faced with is not whether to pay for Netflix
or Hulu, but whether to pay for food or electricity?
Millions of Americans face food, housing and general financial insecurity every year, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Agriculture. And getting help often means navigating a maze of websites, automated telephone systems and confusing applications only to land on a yearslong waitlist or worse — find out you don’t qualify. The good news: You don’t have to figure this out on your own. There are financial counselors, nonprofits and other local and national organizations that exist to help you find your financial footing. If you’re currently facing eviction, can’t feed your family or are experiencing some other financial crisis, dial 211 now to talk with a local expert who can connect you to assistance programs for food, housing and utility expenses, medical bills and other emergencies. Not in crisis mode yet but barely keeping your head above water? Take these steps to prioritize the money you do have coming in, then get help filling in the gaps. More: How to prepare for a recession if you’re struggling to pay for rent, food and utilitiesGo back to basics Start with a budget — even if you don’t think you have enough money coming in to have a budget, says Amy Smith, a financial counselor in central Texas. “It doesn’t matter how much you’re bringing in — any amount of money — because you’re at least telling that money where to go,” says Smith, who is also the membership engagement coordinator for the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education. Your first budget won’t be pretty. Your third or fourth might not be either. That’s OK. Try to stick with it and play around with different budgeting methods to find one that works for you. “When I started this journey, the end of my budget was red,” Smith says, indicating that sh …