10 Tips to get Back on Track. Handling financial setbacks.

Life has a way of throwing us a curve ball when we least expect it. A ton of things can happen that can derail our best laid plans and put our lives and finances into turmoil. It could be a happy surprise, like an unexpected bundle of joy. Sometimes it’s not-so-happy, like repairing a roof or replacing the motor in your car. Sometimes it’s plain heartbreaking: the loss of a job, divorce, or a global pandemic, who knew? Whatever it is that throws you off-kilter, the best thing you can do is move forward.

But, where does one begin?

1. First of all, realize you aren’t alone. You have a support system, including us. There are lots of people with help and advice, like us. Setbacks happen to all of us and the earlier you start the conversation the better. Trust us, if we haven’t been through it ourselves, we’ve heard it all; no judgment here.

2. Take care of yourself. Life’s setbacks not only cause financial pressure but often add to personal stress and that can take a toll on your mind and health. It’s hard to make good decisions when you aren’t in a good frame of mind.

3. Take stock. Putting your head in the sand may be tempting but it never helps and can often be harmful. A budget is a great way to get your finances under control.

4. Get rid of high interest debt. Often when we experience a financial setback, it’s easy for credit card balances to swell. We hope you didn’t find yourself victim to payday loan trap, but if you did, there is a way out. Terming out the credit with a lower interest rate and manageable payments will save you a small fortune.

5. Consolidate payments. If you end up with too many payments to handle, consolidating them into one payment may make your finances a lot easier to manage – and may even save you money. Applying online is quick and easy.

6. Replenish your savings. Many folks follow the rule of thumb and have saved up at least three months of salary to handle emergencies. When emergencies happen, those savings are the first thing we access because that is what they are for: emergencies. Replacing your emergency fund is vital to your financial success.

7. Some of you just read Tip #6 and wondered why no one told you about emergency funds. Now that you’ve been through a financial setback, you can see how important having an emergency fund is – wouldn’t that have made life easier? For you, instead of replenishing savings, start an emergency fund! It is a core step in the journey to financial well-being but a step only about half of us take. The best way to tackle it is to set up an automatic savings plan.

8. Temporarily suspend discretionary spending. Have a look at your auto-pays for extra savings. Maybe you want to take the no TV challenge. Maybe you want to park the second family vehicle for the summer; riding your bike to work would save you money on gas, maintenance and insurance. Maybe you want to get back to gardening and save on groceries. Whatever the answer is for you, you just may find a way to improve your pocketbook and your life.

9. Learn from life’s lesson. It was ugly and it was uncomfortable, but life’s setbacks are often a great learning opportunity. The exact same situation isn’t likely going to happen again, but we’re sad to say a different setback may. What can you do differently to weather life’s storms? What would have helped you through this one?

10. Plan for future success. Once you’ve picked up the pieces and you have some hope for the future and confidence under your belt, you’re ready to move forward. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. Revisit your dreams and goals, plan to achieve them. Grab the life you want to live by the tail; it’s yours if you plan for it.

This may not be the answer for everyone in all situations, we realize that. But whatever you are going through, we’re here to help. We’re your friends and neighbours, so we care about you, your dreams and your community.