Major Life Challenges Blog Series

We are taking a closer look at some of the big issues we all can face in our lifetime. Each topic will be featured as a blog series.

Medical Emergency Strikes: Loss of Income How to Cope

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No one expects to get sick or be injured in an accident but sometimes life throws us those curveballs. So, before you panic and think the worse will happen take a deep breath and asses your situation.   

If you or the other working party in your family is down and out and unable to work you are probably going to need to make some adjustments to your current lifestyle and budget. A reduction in income when things are already tight can be devastating to a family's finances. The best way to handle the situation is to face it head on and right away. 

Your new budget 

As I mentioned your level of income will most likely change and your first task should be to determine if your new income will cover your existing expenses and Medical Emergency Strikes: Loss of Income How to Copeadjust your budget. Take a look at your existing expenses and see where you may be able to cut back. 

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Electricity
  • Heating Oil or Gas
  • Water/Sewer
  • Cable/Satellite
  • Phone/Internet
  • Cell Phone
  • Transportation costs
  • Car insurance
  • Dining Out
  • Groceries
  • Clothing and Laundry
  • Doctor co-pays/Prescriptions
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts/donations
  • Health/Life insurance
  • Emergency Savings
  • Other Savings 

Alert your creditors 

Honesty is always the best policy and the same is true when dealing with your creditors. This is not to say they will all be willing to help but, you may be surprised how willing they are to work with you. Here are a few tips for dealing with your creditors: 

  • Talk to the right person.  Make sure you are speaking with someone who can help you. My experience is requesting to speak with a supervisor or manager from the get go yields better results as they have the authority to make the decisions.
  • Avoid collection calls.  If you can come to an agreement you can avoid the hassle of dealing with harassing phone calls from your creditors.
  • Request new payment arrangements.  You can request smaller payments over a longer period of time or possibly interest only payments.
  • Don't over promise and then under deliver. When making arrangements make sure you will be able to come through with them.
  • Follow through.  Whatever agreement you come to get it in writing before you send payments. Not being on the same page with your creditors could cause problems such as being reported as late or not paying as agreed on your credit report. 

Prioritize your bills 

When things are tight deciding who to pay first can be a difficult task. Keep this in mind: 

  • Missing your mortgage or rent payments may cause you to lose your home.
  • Failing to pay your utility bills may result in shut offs.
  • Failing to pay your car loan may result in repossession.
  • Failure to pay your credit cards usually means collection calls and a damaged credit rating. 

So be sure to pay your living expenses first and then devise a plan for paying your remaining creditors; credit card companies, medical bills, etc.  

Hold a family meeting 

While involving your children in your every financial decision is not necessary and probably not something you should do, helping them understand your new financial situation is important.  Things will probably need to change and if they no why they may be more likely to have buy in and help in any way they can. Working together as a family to cut back and save money may even bring you all closer together. 

A medical emergency will be difficult enough for you and your family to deal with; don't let your finances add fuel to the fire. Take control right away; adjust your budget, talk to your creditors, and sit down as a family to discuss the changes.

To Read More Post From our Blog Series; Medical Debt, Expect the Unexpected, click here.

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief Services. Suzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life Challenges. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check. 

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