Ask Chuck: Implementing a Crisis Budget
Our income has fallen dramatically since sheltering at home. We need help to work our way through the next few months. Can you help?
Can’t Work from Home
Dear Can’t Work from Home,
I am very sorry that you can’t do your job from home and are under financial pressure. Don’t forget that if you were furloughed or laid off, you probably qualify for unemployment benefits (federal and state) to get you through this. If you are a small business owner, benefits are likely available to you as well.
While you are waiting on your job or company to restart or for stop-gap assistance to arrive, now is the time to implement a crisis budget. To make it easier for you we have two different forms available: Printable form and online fillable form.
There are 5 basic steps to the process:
- Determine your current monthly income: Total your income before the crisis (include Social Security, alimony, disability, child support, etc.), subtract the monthly lost income, and add new income (severance, unemployment, savings, etc).
- Make two written commitments: 1) To live on your adjusted monthly income, and 2) to incur no new debt. Pray, date, and sign your name
- Prioritize essential expenses such as housing, food, transportation, medical expenses, giving to the Lord. Stop discretionary spending (entertainment, manicures, etc).
- Delay non-essential expenses. Put off home improvements, buying clothes and gifts until things stabilize. The key word is “buying”. Try bartering or making do with what you have. Get creative.
- Analyze and adjust monthly subscriptions or recurring expenses. Many times it is the little things that add up that we overlook. Use this crisis to stop any unnecessary spending. See some tips below.
The Crown staff made a list of ways they are saving for the next 90 days. These include:
- Negotiating cable, internet, phone, insurance rates
- Cutting back on subscriptions and memberships
- Reducing utility usage
- Communicating with providers to defer bills
- Temporarily cease paying ahead on mortgage
- Cutting food costs – going meatless certain days, eating from the pantry
Find Temporary Work
While many industries are hard hit, a number are also booming. It may be good for you to find any kind of part time or temporary work to help you through the crisis. We have a list of potential industries that are hiring right now at Crown.org/coronavirus. Consider starting a small business based on some gift or talent that was once a hobby but can now become a job. For instance, millions of people do not know how to use Zoom, Skype or Facetime. Maybe you could teach them over the phone for a small fee.
Fight Off the Fear
On a family vacation years ago, we decided to go rafting. We hit major rapids that scared my wife, Ann, so badly she ditched the raft in favor of hanging tree branches. She lost all perspective and grabbed onto the first thing that gave her hope. In her fear, she failed to determine what she would do from there. She was stuck. Somehow, she hung on for help as we managed to circle back to rescue her.
Just because you are stuck, don’t believe that you are alone and nobody cares. Cling to hope, replace fear with faith, and do your part to live one day at a time. This is a time to truly trust God…fully.
Webster defines fear as an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. It is an anxious concern with reason for alarm.
Your mind will come up with all kinds of things to worry about. Fears have a tendency to grow. Often times we are flooded with “what if” scenarios around things like:
- Loss of retirement income
- Stock market loss
- Delayed retirement
- Medical catastrophe
- Maxing out credit cards
- Deteriorating credit score
- Supporting adult children
- Paying mortgage or rent
Avoid the trap of worrying about what has not happened and focus on what you can do today to get unstuck. Taking action helps to eliminate the waste of time and energy worrying. Fear is an emotion. Praying, working, planning, budgeting are all actions!
Unite and Work Together
This is a perfect time to work together as a couple or family. We have a dedicated page of resources for this time including practical how-to’s, helpful links, and activities.
Here a link to a new devotion I did to address the temptation to get trapped in fear. I hope it is helpful to you.
You can contact us for prayer, counsel or just to get some encouragement. God knows your needs and He is faithful to provide.
Originally published by the Christian Post, April 10, 2020.