Financial Struggles, Where Can I Turn?

By: Sherry Ridge

In my 15 years of helping families with their personal finances, it seems that as our economy and workforce continue to change the struggles of many families go beyond basic budgeting and debt elimination consulting.

Those of us debt free and/or on the path may never experience the challenges that a newly widowed mother, or divorced father goes through just trying to keep food on the table.

I participate in several non-profit groups that strive to help under served community members, and each time I leave one of these families, I hear the words, "There by the grace of God go I." I acknowledge the gifts I have and the benefits that have come my way from being debt free and living within my means. Many families want this opportunity as well, but they feel that they are so far gone that they don't believe it is available to them or they struggle just to get gas in their car to go to work and long term thinking is not a luxury that they have right now.

For those of you who have friends or family that are barely making it each month, the following are services/ideas that they can look into when times seem too tough to bare.

Utilize tech schools for minor car repairs, personal care (such as hair cuts and manicures), dental check up's and much more. Call your local community college to see what programs/service they have available to the public.

Contact your local Rotary, Kiwanis's or Exchange Clubs to see if they have a Children's Winter Coat program. Many of these service organizations donate new coats and gloves to children.

Get your children's lunch and some school fees reduced to pennies on the dollar, if any at all. Many families qualify for free lunch and when doing this they also qualify to have school registrations fees as well as sporting and club fees waived or reduced.

Ask your PTA's/PTO's and/or Athletic Booster Clubs if they have programs that help children with sporting equipment/school supplies.

Check with the YMCA or YWCA about programs they have to help families with child care costs.

Investigate the health insurance opportunities in your state. For example all children living in Illinois have health insurance benefits available to them, even those in families making $60,000 a year.

Reach out to your church services department, many churches not only run pantries, but they also have programs to help families struggling to pay a utility bill.

Visit your local food pantry, you can call your town hall, church or even police station to see where one is close to you.

See a case manager at any social service organization to see what programs you and your children may qualify for. I know of an organization that offers homework help to children for free. Remember that these programs are mostly non-profit, which means that most of them are operating by using our (yours and mine) tax dollars. To see a case manager should cost you nothing.

Look into health departments, health fairs from hospitals, Senior Centers, etc. for free immunizations and check-ups for families.

It's important for me that I personally give back more than I take. We all need a helping hand at some point in our lives, it may be help to pay a medical bill, get school supplies for our kids, a ticket back home to attend a parent's funeral or simply a compassionate ear and heart to lean on.

We all need to give a helping hand as well, when we are in a better position ourselves; we can offer more than we took at the time we needed it.

Don't sit and suffer alone, reach out to your community members, your friends, your family and your neighbors. There are places to turn; doing a little research and using the resources around you can make a difference.

Finance
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