Millions of people have suddenly been put out of work as the economy shuts down. This is what they should do with their budget…
Dave Ramsey’s organization puts out good information for helping people get out of debt and get back on a budget. He published an article offering advice for people who lost their job because of the coronavirus outbreak.
His first piece of advice is to get on a budget. This is reasonable. But it is not the first thing someone who just missed a paycheck wants to know or needs to hear. Losing a job or missing a paycheck unexpectedly, especially for a person or family who has little savings, calls for emergency measures.
His second piece of advice should come first:
2. Take care of the Four Walls.
When the going gets rough—like it is right now—you need to focus on the things you really need to survive. We call these the Four Walls. Forget the student loan payment, the vet bill and the cell phone bill (for now). The Four Walls are your priority, so pay for these things in this order before anything else:
These are the basics you need to keep going so you can live to fight another day. And it’s really hard to fight when your family doesn’t have food, isn’t it? So if there’s no food in the fridge, don’t pay the cable bill.
If there’s any money left over after you take care of the Four Walls, make a list of what else you need to pay and tackle that in order of importance. When you run out of money—that’s it. Someone on the list isn’t getting paid, and that’s just how it goes. But it sure as heck isn’t going to be the checkout lady at the grocery store. Remember, that’s priority number one!
If you’re renting and having trouble coming up with cash right now, don’t stress out. Reach out to your landlord and be honest with them about what’s going on. They might be able to work something out with you for the time being, but they can’t help if they don’t know. Be up front with them and pray for the best.
One of Ramsey’s last steps should become the next action step in a job-loss emergency procedure: cut all non-essential spending immediately.
6. Look for things to cut.
This is the time to cut back on any unnecessary expenses that you can. Tighten it up. Stop or pause your subscriptions (think Netflix, Hulu, meal delivery kits, specialty makeup boxes). They aren’t going anywhere, and you can easily pick them back up once everything blows over and you have extra cash to spend again.
Don’t forget to call your cable, internet and cellular providers to see if there’s anything they’ll do to work with you during this time. Be open and honest, and let them know your situation. You’ll never know if you don’t ask! And since you already have them on the line, go ahead and downgrade or pause your service for now. None of these things fall into the Four Walls, remember?
He offers another important tip, which will help a person to raise money immediately, even if only a little.
4. Sell stuff.
Get radical. No, we don’t want you to go selling hand sanitizer on eBay for $50 a bottle. But this is the time to sell what you can to bring in extra cash. Maybe that’s your jewelry, clothes, baby items or even the extra car sitting in your garage. If you know you can part with something and get extra cash in your hands—do it! Well, within reason.
However, it may be a challenge to raise much money selling used goods when everyone is practicing social distancing and in lockdown. Demand may be lower, so the seller may need to accept lower offers than they were expecting.
Dave’s final step is where the deacons come in. He says:
7. Connect with your church or local community groups.
Let’s be clear here: Try to do everything in your power first before you seek help like this. Make sure you cut back where you can and take any temporary jobs to work hard and get back up on your own two feet.
But, in times of real need, don’t be too prideful to ask for a helping hand. Many churches and community groups in your area exist for situations like this. They want to help you! If going to a food bank means your family is fed, then do it.
His recommendation should also be your recommendation to members who come to you in time of need. Help them to refocus their priorities. Focus on the most basic bills. Help them cut non-essential spending. Help them reduce their budgets as much as possible.
Pray with them, support them, and comfort them. These are times when the members of God’s body can come together for each other. The diaconate plays a crucial role in this.