At one point in your life, you will probably find yourself in a bad financial situation, under financial strain or facing financial challenges. The fact that this is common doesn’t make you feel better, in fact, it’s more a testament to how broken the system is that it happens as often as it does. Like most things in life that get us down, it is not necessarily what gets you in the bad financial situation that matters as much as what you do to get ourselves out from under the financial strain and how you face the financial challenges that matter.
I am going to give you the exact steps that I have personally used time and again (from when I was homeless, to going through divorce, to losing a job, to just getting financially overwhelmed). I teach this to my private clients as well and while it’s not the only method out there, this is what has proven most effective in my experience.
How to Get out of a Bad Financial Situation: Step 1 Assess
First and foremost, you need to understand exactly what it is you’re facing. It seems obvious but this is the #1 thing that most people do not do. They rush into action before they have figured out where they are.
It’s a little like trying to drive to the Eiffel Tower when you’ve never been to France, and you don’t read the language. You are very likely facing a situation you have never faced before, in unfamiliar territory and you feel lost and confused. You may even be trying to use a map for directions but…
Whatever financial challenges you are facing, get it all on paper. All your bills, all your debts, all your income, having it all down together is probably scary, but it’s the only way to know where you are and then be able to strategically remove the financial strain.
Don’t forget to include items that aren’t bills, like groceries, dining out, all the things you spend money on. It’s easy to fall into the trap when you feel cash strapped of “okay, we just won’t eat out. EVER” but that simply may not be sustainable and if you set up a system that isn’t sustainable then you will fail and then you haven’t really relieved the financial strain and the financial challenges don’t actually get solved. If you want to know how to get out of a bad financial situation for good, you must have a plan that you will stick to. Plain and simple.
How to Get out of a Bad Financial Situation: Step 2 Forgive
The financial challenges you are facing may not remotely be of your making. I still find that even when this is true people tend to take financial strain and bad financial situations as a personal indictment of who they are as a person. As if a “responsible” person doesn’t have these things happen to them, or someone who is “good enough” wouldn’t have to deal with this.
This is categorically untrue, but me saying that won’t stop you from feeling it. I still think it’s important that I say it though.
Listen, you are already in a highly stressful situation. Financial strain is the #1 reason for stress in the United States and globally it ranks very highly as well. Facing financial challenges is often something people do alone and never talk about, but it is so vital to give yourself grace and surround yourself with support.
Even if you feel like the financial challenges, you are currently facing are of your own making, you are taking the steps to make your life better. That is very brave! Give yourself some credit here. Don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you’ve made in the past and simply repeat this statement to yourself whenever those negative cognitions come up.
Forgiveness Mantra: I forgive myself for any financial decisions I have made in the past that were not aligned with my highest good. I release all feelings of blame, shame and guilt. I know that I can change my financial reality into one of peace and security.
How to Get out of a Bad financial Situation: Step 3 Strategize
This step is slightly harder to give general advice around, but I’ll do my best. Once you know what your financial challenges are it’s time to figure out the best strategy for getting from where to are to where you’d like to be.
First you find where you are, then you need to understand what the specific financial struggle is. These are not the same thing. Where you are is because of the financial struggle it is not the struggle itself. So, for example. If you have no money in savings. That is where you are. The financial challenges that got you there could be lots of different things and without accurately assessing what the challenge is you won’t know what strategy to use to help you solve it.
Once you know where you are, what the financial struggle is you can then apply a strategy to test. I use the word test very specifically. There are NO strategies that work for everyone. You must find what works for you! This is why in my programs and courses I do not teach people one way to do things but a whole tools kit of strategies to apply in many situations.
For example, if you want to know how I overcame my chronic spending to become a saver, you can listen to the exact strategies I used in the Money Myth Buster Podcast Episode: Listen here
Whatever strategy you try test it out, if it doesn’t feel light and easy then ditch it. If it feels good but doesn’t work? Ditch it. Whatever you do, don’t make it about deprivation.
I encourage you to read more about how to set financial goals that you can achieve in these posts here:
How to get out of a bad financial situation: Step 4 Shift Your Mindset
One of the worst things you can do when you are dealing with financial strain and hardship is to focus so hard on getting out of it that you remove all forms of joy and happiness from your life. Working extra jobs, getting little sleep, and eating crappy cheap food isn’t going to help you nearly as much as you think it will.
Chances are you are building up the financial challenges you are currently facing into more than they are. This may not always be the case, but more often than not, when I work with a client, and we map out where they really are (step one) they find the problem has already dissolved. You see… the financial strain most often lies in your mind because you don’t have a way of clearly assessing where you are and thus you feel lost
Therefore, having a tool not only to assess and strategize but to help you reframe your money mindset and misperceptions that cause you to freak out when there is not a crisis is so critical.
One of the aspects of the therapeutic process in financial therapy is helping you not only improve your financial skillset but also to help your brain stop responding with panic. That doesn’t always happen automatically. Sometimes our brain response patterns are so ingrained, it takes some extra love and attention to get the brain to respond with calm and remember those new strategies.
How to get out of a bad financial situation: Step 5 Adjust and Persist
Sometimes the strategy you try doesn’t work as well as you had hoped. It’s not a reason to give up entirely. The key to getting out of a bad financial situation is to not give up. Yes, I know that sounds trite, but I can say that from a place of experience (if you have not read my story of homelessness, divorce, single motherhood and chronic disease you can read it here or listen to it here).
The key is not to think that there is one perfect strategy but many and you are testing them for effectiveness. Try something, if it works great. It may not work forever and that’s fine. You don’t need forever you need right now. If it doesn’t work, adjust and keep moving forward.
Any progress is good progress. I encourage you to keep what you wrote down in step 1 so that a month from now you can look back on it, re-evaluate and see the progress you’ve made. It can be so EASY to think you aren’t getting anywhere or that your progress is “too slow” (That phrase should be banned in my opinion). That’s why keeping track of your progress is so important. ANY progress is good progress.
As long as you are moving forward, you are making things better for yourself.
How to get out of a bad financial situation: Always Seek Support
This is probably the most important thing you should be doing throughout your life, not just when you are trying to get out of a bad financial situation. Seeking support is one of the things that many people avoid doing because of one very specific emotion – shame.
There is a stigma that we place on ourselves for experiencing hard times. The reality is that at some point in your life, no matter the cause, <<find stat>>. It’s the leading cause of stress in America, the leading cause of divorce around the world. Financial strain and hardship is common. So why do we act like it is something that we should be ashamed of?
It is not something that you can always control and even if you can; let’s not oversimplify your financial situation. There are always multiple factors that contribute to anything.
You deserve support when you are going through something difficult. Bottom line. If you were going through a terrible break up or experiencing a life-changing illness you would probably reach out for support, right? (If not, please consider that this is likely a bigger issue for you and consider why you don’t seek support in your life – with love)
You never know what will come of the support you receive. It doesn’t have to be money. Just some camaraderie, emotional support, a buddy for financial goals, accountability, creative solutions you haven’t thought of, a welcome distraction, fun and much more. Support comes in many forms, and it can help you more than you know. You need the emotional support so much during a time of financial strain.
Getting yourself to a place of greater stability can be a hard fought battle. I want to encourage you that simply by using the steps in this article you will be light years ahead on your path.
If you need more support? I would be happy to talk with you further. I have several ways you can work with me to receive varying levels of support depending on your situation.
Don’t hesitate to reach out by clicking the link below!