I'm broke and need help

Howdy y'all

I feel horrible. I looked at my finances this morning and I'm stuck in a bind. I don't have any discretionary income. Since the Pandemic started my emergency fund (which just made it to $1000) depleted fast due to car repairs, rent issues, a surgery, a blowout, and now just everything. While I'm glad that money was there, now I'm stuck unable to pay for groceries because I've got to pay rent today. 

I've never felt so horrible about my finances and want to get ahead so bad but I can't even seem to catch a break. My girlfriend just got a new job but her boss hasn't called her with the paperwork yet. So we're just surviving. If my job wasn't steady, I'd probably have lost everything I own right now. That scares me so much.

My emergency fund is only $20 right now and I just paid rent today. Next week, all my funds are spoken for. My car payment is due. While I could wait another week, the interest would kill me. 

I'm sorry for my sob story. I'm feeling depressed and my anxiety is out the roof because I'm not surviving. What do I do? 

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    • Amy
    • fadoozle
    • 2 wk ago
    • 7
    • Reported - view

    Hi Nathan, I'm so sorry for everything you're going through. I struggle with anxiety, too.

    What helps me most is narrowing my focus down to what is happening right now.

    Your rent is paid. That seems huge.

    Do you have any food in your house? If so, how long might you make it last until you need to shop for groceries?

    Do you have a credit card you could use to pay for groceries if you had to? Although debt is horrible, I try to remember that credit cards have often helped me and my family when we needed them, and it's ok to be grateful for them in that sense.

    How much would you pay in interest if you didn't make the car payment as planned?

    I think it's ok to just sit with things feeling really crappy, to just accept that you are in a low place, and that's totally fine. And keep using YNAB to stay in financial reality, even when that reality doesn't look how we wish it did.

    Some resources that have helped me:

    https://www.budgetbytes.com/ (Beth even has a SNAP challenge which would help if funds are really low for food)

    https://anxietynomore.co.uk/ (Paul's articles are really helpful and reassuring)

    Like 7
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Amy I'm going to check out those links at lunch today. I don't know how I managed to get into this mess? I used to be so frugile with my money and now it's like gone. But I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Something good will happen in time. When? I don't know. But it's coming. 

      Thank you for your warm words and your advice. 

      Like 3
    • Amy I love budget bytes!  So many of those recipes have gotten me through thin times.  I had to train myself to get used to eating leftovers, but once I did that, I batch cooked three budget byte meals three evenings in a row and froze the leftovers in individual servings.  This way I had more than one option to choose from and less likely to not want to *sigh* eat the same thing AGAIN.  ;)

      Another cheap food staple was noodle bowls.  I picked up some broth (chicken in my case) and a pack of rice noodles or another type of soup noodle.  Cook the noodles in the broth and add veggies near the end with an egg for protein. (Carrots, bok choy, broccoli, peppers, etc...) It sounds dull, but it can be quite filling and mark off some ok nutrients.  I always put sriracha or franks hot sauce after because it's yummy.

      Like 5
  • I wanted to send heart power. You are surviving. You are surviving so much. 

    When is your next pay check & when might your GFs be coming? How long do you have to survive without money for groceries? Do you have pb&j in the house or something like that? 

    Will you be charged interest if you don't pay your rent this month? There is an eviction moratorium happening right now . . if you rely on your car to get to work, then it might be better not to pay your rent, than it would be to miss a car payment . .

    Do you have access to outside space? Can get you get outside and feel that connection to our earth?

    Just a few thoughts. Mostly I wanted to send solidarity. This is a really hard time for so many people. I'm glad you have a steady job, you have a roof over your head, you have a car that can drive you. You have the blue sky. Stay focused on what survival really means. Because you are doing it. 

    Like 3
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Ivory Storm Number one thing on my list this labor day weekend is just get out and breathe. That's probably something as simple as going to walk at the park. I can't let the world hold me down this week. I'm so tired and I don't wanna feel helpless. I know good things are coming in time. 

      I'm sure I can manage next week with the car. It's not too much. Just may be slightly delayed so I can get ahead. 

      Thank you for being there and encouraging me. It truly means a lot and more than you know. 

      Like 4
    • Violet Rain
    • ElectroNecroMancer
    • Violet_Rain.3
    • 2 wk ago
    • 7
    • Reported - view

    I've been where you are now and it is a horrible, anxious place to be. The good news is that you already have a budget and your emergency fund, although depleted now, was there for you and did its job. Because you have a budget you have an honest picture of your finances. Even if it isn't pretty, it will allow you to make informed decisions. 

    Take a moment to breathe. Your rent is paid, you have a roof over your head, your job is steady. Your girlfriend is about to start her new job and that will soon bring in some extra income. This is a rough patch, but it is only temporary. 

    Could you maybe call your car loan provider and see if you could split up the payment so you don't incur as much interest? Are there any lower priority payments that can be delayed for another week? If groceries are an issue, do you have any friends/relatives that might be able to do a porch drop off of a few meals/food staples until you can go grocery shopping? Are there any items you might be able to sell quickly to give yourself a little more cushion? Do you have any other skills/services you might be able to to provide as a side gig to earn a little extra cash?

    It's easy to spiral out of control when things are tough. Just know that you are doing the best that you can and you are taking care of priorities. You will get through this, and we are here to cheer you along. I've found that journaling my highs and lows has helped a tremendous amount for my anxiety, so you might consider that. Keep us posted. You've got this. Sending calming energy to you. 💜

    Like 7
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Violet Rain I'm probably going to swing by the food bank. I hate to use their services when I know there's others out there who need food more than I do. But I don't think I've even got a loaf of bread at home? If I do go, I plan to give back. My girlfriend and I both have agreed that we want to give back ASAP. 

      I may try journaling the higher points in life. I haven't been. I've journaled some and I've noticed that it does kinda help to get things out of my head and onto paper. I never realized how much doing that helps. I'm very much ADHD and so my mind is going about 1000000000000000mph/kmph. Slowing down to breathe is the biggest thing. 

      Thank you for inspiring me. 

      Like 5
      • Violet Rain
      • ElectroNecroMancer
      • Violet_Rain.3
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Nathan Dowlen I felt like that too when I needed their services. At the time I still technically made too much money to qualify for gov't assistance, but I still didn't have enough money to get groceries. But after volunteering at my local food bank a few times, I've come to realize that it's there for anyone who needs it, not just the people most in need. Those cans of NP food and bags of rice/potatoes kept me and my girls fed and I was SO grateful for it. After you get through this rough patch, consider volunteering for a few hours at your local food bank. It's so much more gratifying when you know that you're doing work for a program that helped you out personally when you needed it.

      Like 2
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Violet Rain That's definitely what I'm going to do. I love volunteer work. I feel like I haven't made a difference in awhile. I've been too focused on surviving. But I plan to soon. I know it's there to help those in need. I'm definitely not "living on the streets" broke but "Paycheck to paycheck" broke. I'll get there somehow! 

      Like 3
      • Violet Rain
      • ElectroNecroMancer
      • Violet_Rain.3
      • 2 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view
      Nathan Dowlen said:
      I love volunteer work. I feel like I haven't made a difference in awhile. I've been too focused on surviving.

       That's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in action, and it's a perfectly justifiable reason. It's tough to focus on giving back when you're trying to figure out how to make it to the next payday. But you WILL get there soon enough! It sounds like you have a generous and humble spirit, and that goes a long way. This is your season of need. Next season may be your season of giving. 😊

      Like 4
    • Violet Rain Nathan Dowlen Just want to emphasize what Violet Rain said. Community food banks are there for everyone. And, personally, I think we are in a much better space, as a nation and community, if more people are using them when the need comes. Because more people using them means more exposure to what they do. And what they do is so good, that more exposure to it, means more public support and more public connection.

      Nobody is going to be giving you the side-eye at a food bank & given how many of our fellow citizens already rely on them, I honestly believe that being exposed to food banks is an aspect of civic engagement. It's good for all of us to be connected to each other and helping each other out. It just is.

      Like 5
  • It's OK to feel anxious, but face up to what you know to be true: Cut expenses or increase income (or both). Your GF's income will obviously help, but won't show up today. Credit cards are a viable temporary measure to bridge the gap. Beans and rice are cheap. Many a college student survived on little more than Raman noodles. Anything in the freezer? Family in town that might feed you dinner? :-)

    Budgeting -- a.k.a., planning -- is all about prioritizing. You've got a roof over your head, which is great. I'd suggest that you don't miss your car payment, as that has long-term repercussions far more serious than a little more interest now. You seem to know where your next paycheck will be allocated, but verify that is really in line with your priorities.

    Wishing you the best of luck.

    Like 4
    • Melissa
    • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
    • todays_mel
    • 2 wk ago
    • 4
    • Reported - view

    Hi Nathan,

    Sending you and your girlfriend lots of virtual support. YNAB has several blog posts over the last couple of months that address some of the issues you're struggling with, and may provide some useful options (if you haven't already read them). I've listed just a few of them below:  

    • Creating a Hunker-Down budget - information on how to create a really bare-bones budget when you're faced with a lot of financial/income uncertainty, with a video too.
    • If you have to borrow money right now - towards the middle-ish of the article Ben discusses when you need/have to borrow and some tips on how to approach it.
    • How to make your money last longer - this is the 5th article in a series; the previous 4 are linked at the beginning of the article if you want to start at the beginning.

    Good luck, and know that this is a great community who's always got your back! 

    Like 4
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Melissa These articles are amazing! I love that YNAB has stuff like this for folks like me. I'm reading through right now. 

      Like 1
  • Hi Nathan,

     

    Adding one more suggestion here...our town has a couple of no-questions-asked food banks right now. Maybe see if you have something similar in your town?

    Like 4
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Boy Do INAB I may have go by. We have a local food bank. I'm cautious about using it because I don't want to use something more than the person who needs it more than I do. I pray to God that once I'm through this financial struggle I can give back though if I do. I'm thinking of going though. At least to get enough to survive until next paycheck. 

      Like 2
    • HappyDance
    • YNABing consistently since 2014
    • HappyDance
    • 2 wk ago
    • 7
    • Reported - view

    Emergency food assistance (because being hungry is no joke)

    • Reach out to friends and family and let them know you are in dire circumstance.  If you know someone who hunts and has a freezer full of game, ask if they have some older freezer packages they'd like to get rid of.  (sez the gal who ate a whole lot of venison stew for a season and was grateful for it)

    • Visit your local churches, soup kitchens, food banks, salvation army, and other charities. Google all of those words/organizations  and your location to find resources in your area. Reach out to those resources asap.

    • USA: Call 211, find your local food bankapply for SNAP, or try a WIC office

    • Canada: Call 211, find your local food bank

    • pick up a minimum wage part-time job in a food-related service; one of the benefits is usually free meals

    Like 7
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Google Fruit Rescue or Garden Rescue or Gleaning and your town/city

      There is a growing movement of modern gleaning, co-ordinating volunteers to go out to harvest unwanted tree fruit and people's surplus overgrown gardens. This is the time of year that a lot of food just rots and goes to waste.  Such a shame since there are many in dire need.  The harvest is often split evenly three ways: between the volunteer gleaners, the homeowners, and a local nonprofit or foodbank.

       

      Edited to add:  this one has the benefit of getting a person out of the house, meeting others (not such an easy thing to do during COVID), helping others, and networking - you can meet some of your community's most connected people by doing volunteer work and working side-by-side with them, which may turn out to be beneficial: job leads, etc.  Plus, this one feels more like you're working for your food rather than receiving charity, which can be a major salve to wounded pride and ego.

      Like 3
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance I'll definitely be looking to see if I can find the nearest food bank. We don't need a lot. Just enough to last this month. If we go to the food bank, we'll definitely end up giving back when things calm down and we're at a better place financially. 

      Thank you for the resources! I really really really appreciate that. 

      Like 2
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      HappyDance I LOVE volunteer work. I'll look into it. I know my girlfriend loves doing stuff like that too. So it'll definitely be worth our time if we can give back in the long run. 

      Like 2
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Nathan Dowlen 

      It being harvest time, or almost harvest time, in most N.American locations, this one seems quite timely, as opposed to responding to this kind of request in February.  I hope you can connect with local groups.

      Like 1
    • HappyDance
    • YNABing consistently since 2014
    • HappyDance
    • 2 wk ago
    • 4
    • Reported - view

    Are you an active member of the Reddit community?

    If you have a Reddit account that is (at least) 180 days old and have a minimum of 500 comment Karma, you can post a help request on the Food Pantry Sub,  link an Amazon cart/wish list, and some very charitable, big-hearted Redditers will pay for those items.

    Posting a link here in case you are on Reddit and have the minimum account requirements:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Food_Pantry/wiki/index

    Like 4
    • HappyDance Wow! That's cool!

      Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual 

      Right?  There are wonderful people with big hearts all over the place out there, and a lot of us/them are now just paying it forward after having received the generosity of others when we/they needed it.

      Like 3
    • HappyDance Yes! That's so wonderful! I love seeing those sorts of things!

      Like 1
    • HappyDance This is really cool!  Thanks for posting this.  I had no idea.

      Like 1
  • Hi Nathan Dowlen

    Just another little note to let you know that you are seen, and heard, and that you've got a lot of people here rooting for you. Many of us started where you are. I was looking back at my records recently (man, pandemics make you do weird things!), and realized that my BF and I made $36,000 the first year we were together. It's no wonder we struggled so much back then. You, too, will eventually be able to look back on this time in your life and realize how much you've grown, and how far you've come.

    I know it sucks, but PLEASE don't let your budget slide. Put the numbers in there, even if they are ugly. There were times in my budgeting history where MOST of my categories that were paid for on credit cards were orange over spent at the end of the month. It sucked, but it was worth it to just keep going, regardless of the numbers. I learned the hard way that avoiding it only made it harder to get back on track when the money did start flowing again. It was harder to prioritize debt, and harder to figure out what was most important when I had to go back and recreate the picture of what happened months later.

    Your debt, or lack of money, isn't who you are. It doesn't define you, or your worth. It is a temporary situation that will change, for the better, in the future. It can also change quickly. So while you can feel down about your financial situation, don't let that define who you are.  I might not have name brand clothes right now, or have expensive shoes, but dang it, regardless of my financial situation, I AM that kind of person who will. The lack of funding in this moment doesn't change that fact about me. Don't let it dictate that about you, either.

    There have been some really amazing resources provided here, I hope you take advantage of them. Asking for help also doesn't change your worth as a human. You are still worthy of receiving, and worthy of the support, so go hunt it down. There are lots of opportunities out there, but you have to be willing to go looking for them.

    And, if you're in the US, I have heard rumors that there is likely to be another stimulus payment that is coming in another month or so. I'll believe it when I see it, but here's hoping that comes through. Oh, if you also have a 401k account with your company, I believe that the penalty for early withdraws was suspended due to the pandemic. You do need to be able to prove that the funds were necessary for your survival because of the pandemic, but clearly that won't be difficult for you, and the only thing you have to pay is the taxes on it as if it were income, which makes sense. Just be sure to check with an accountant or some other financial support to make sure that you follow the right steps if you take advantage of that.  Here's the link my financial planner gave me: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/coronavirus-related-relief-for-retirement-plans-and-iras-questions-and-answers

    Hang in there, keep us posted so we can keep cheering you on from a distance, even if it seems like things are getting worse, please do post an update!

    Like 6
    • Nathan Dowlen
    • Pianist, Chemical Operator
    • natekittycat
    • 12 days ago
    • 9
    • Reported - view

    Howdy y'all,
    So not really much of an update: so money is horribly tied up still. A good friend of mine though sent me $30 the other day which is enough to pay for groceries until Payday on Thursday. (Thank God!) Still trying to get things flowing in a positive direction. It'll happen soon.
    Nathan

    Like 9
      • Violet Rain
      • ElectroNecroMancer
      • Violet_Rain.3
      • 12 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Nathan Dowlen I'm so glad your groceries are covered! It's so hard to ask for help when you need it, so good on you for reaching out. That's one less thing to worry about now. Thanks for the update!

      Like
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 12 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Violet Rain God is good. I'm still waiting though for more cash. My girlfriend's parents are sending cash and people have it all tied up. My buddy also sent me money the other day after I loaned him and decided to do bank to bank. (It's tied up on PayPal for 3-5 days.)

      Like 3
    • Nathan Dowlen Were you able to check into info at the food banks? If you can get some food there, that will help keep the money flowing in for other important things, like keeping gas in your car and the payment paid. I think food is probably one of the easiest things to fund.

      Also I've seen most of the banks and financial places all have information about covid related benefits, have you looked into those, too? Maybe your car payment can be suspended, or skipped for a small fee. I think my bank has a 'skip a payment' option that costs only $25, and just adds the payment onto the end of the loan. Obviously you can't use it more than once or so, but if it helps for one month to get you to a better place, it's worth it.

      Like 2
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual I already used that option during the summer. I had to do a major repair on my car with my emergency fund. I used the stimulus to refill and then come to find out I'd somehow managed to miss one of my rent payments so the emergency got drained super fast again. It was gone before I could even do anything with it.

      Like 1
    • Nathan Dowlen you might still call and ask, the worst they can tell you is no. Honestly, as ironic as it is, you have good timing to get extra support right now due to the pandemic. If the pandemic weren't happening a lot of places wouldn't have offers for support the way they do, so honestly, I would be calling every financial institution that you have bills with currently just to see what might be available. Like I said, the worst answer you'll find out is no, and then you'll know how to prioritize that bill or debt payment. But you might be surprised what you find out, too. I think in some places they also suspended evictions as well, so you might even be able to get a break on the rent, too. As painful as it is to call and ask, the knowing will feel a lot better than the unknown.

      Like
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 10 days ago
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual Texas isn't letting us do that. They just reinstated the whole thing with evictions. I can't afford to lose my home. I could call my lender about the car today. But my girlfriend is just advising me to go ahead and make the car payment.

      Like
    • MXMOM
    • MXMOM
    • 12 days ago
    • 4
    • Reported - view
    Edited to add - I see you are doing better and got lots of great advice.
    @Nathan Dowlen said:
    My car payment is due.

     Forget the car payment for now.  You are in survival mode.  First - food and shelter.  Everything else can wait. Yes, your credit will get dinged but you need to eat.  Screw the interest!  

    Do you have anything you can sell? Sell it all!  Check into food banks. Let friends know (I know it feels embarassing but its not) and they may have some frozen food or leftovers they can spare or they may need some handy work they can pay you to do.  

    You're scared. So many of us on here get that. But don't look at the whole situation right now.  Just look 5 feet in front of you. What needs to happen today?  

    Hugs.  

    Like 4
    • MXMOM
    • MXMOM
    • 12 days ago
    • 6
    • Reported - view
    Violet Rain said:
    At the time I still technically made too much money to qualify for gov't assistance, but I still didn't have enough money to get groceries

     Its amazing how many people fit into this category. There are working homeless people. There are people who ride the bus all night because they can't afford to pay the heat in their home. It is a sad thing and one good thing that has come from this pandemic is that these issues are exposed and people who look down on others have learned that it doesn't take much to knock you down. 

    Like 6
    • MXMOM
    • MXMOM
    • 12 days ago
    • 5
    • Reported - view
    Violet Rain said:
    That's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in action,

     Oh, something I learned in university (1988) I can finally use!!!! LOL. 

    Like 5
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 12 days ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM Is that like the equivalent of the quadratic formula? lol It's actually useful.

      Like 3
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 12 days ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Nathan Dowlen This is seriously the ONLY thing I actually remember learning in school.  From Economics Grade 10.

      Like 5
      • Nathan Dowlen
      • Pianist, Chemical Operator
      • natekittycat
      • 12 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM I was the nerd. But for me it was the quadratic formula sung to "Pop goes the Weasel" lol "- B plus or minus the square root of b square minus 4ac all over 2a." 

      Like 2

  • Team YNAB in action! So many great resources in here.

    Before I blather on, there's some great apps out there that may also help with calming down the anxiety.  Some cost money, so the only one I'll share is the one I know for sure is totally free.

    https://insighttimer.com/ - this is a free meditation app. You can learn to meditate or find a guided meditation for what you are looking for. I find the body scans are useful for bringing awareness to where my anxiety is and calming down body symptoms. I just took a look and there's talks and guided meditations on money stress! I think I'm about to go down a rabbit hole myself on this. :D

    Your story isn't a sob story.  It's reality for many people and has been reality for many others, myself included.  You were at the point that you had the emergency fund set up and the budget worked as it should.  You'll get back there.  As many have said, it's temporary.  It sounds like you have a support network around you as well.  Take small steps and celebrate the small victories, like paying rent and finding ways to pay for groceries.  And by celebrate I mean have an extra little cuddle with your GF, or high five, or light a candle during dinner....just share a little moment to recognize those little achievements.  When a step back happens, reflect on the last time a little victory happened and think about how good it'll feel when it happens again.  Because it will!

     

    You got this!
     

    Like 3
    • Pixel spender I love insight timer, too!

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