As much as I hope and pray that the economy will get better, some families are just praying that they have enough money to survive. Your spouse may be out of work, or you may have had to take a put cut. The truth is, many families are struggling, and the worries for how they will take care of their children just gets bigger everyday: paying the rent, buying food, paying for medicine, daycare expenses, etc. Not to mention, the basic utility bills and credit cards bills; and cost of transportation that seems to get higher each week.
Fortunately, there is a solution and there are several financial help resources for struggling families. Here are just a handful of ideas/resources that your family could seek for help.
Buying Food for your Family
If providing food for your family becomes an issue, here are some options to consider:
- Visit your local Food Pantry (you can find a local pantry near you, by checking out this blog post).
- National School Lunch Program
Public schools offer free or reduced-price lunch to students from struggling families through the National School Lunch Program. Additionally, many schools offer a hot breakfast as well. The school counselor can advise you of the requirements to qualify for the program.
- Food Stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps low-income families to stretch their food dollars. They determine the amount of assistance on a case-by-case basis, depending on your income, number of dependents and several other factors. You can apply online or at your state social services agency.
WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. You can apply online (with their prescreening tool) to see if you are eligible.
Struggling to Pay for your Utilities
- Utility companies offer budget-billing programs to help people who are struggling to pay their bills. You pay the same amount every month throughout the year. The utility resets the amount once each year based on your average usage. Where we live, they call it “Level Pay”.
- In addition to calling your utility companies, your State or local government may have programs to make emergency payments to prevent utility shutoff. Some northern municipalities have programs to help with winter heating bills.
Struggling to Pay your Debt/ Credit Card Bills
If you are having a hard time paying your bills each month, there are several options that you could consider to help your family.
- Consolidation Loan
Apply at your bank or credit union for a consolidation loan to pay off your bills. Although the level of debt does not decrease, you will only have one monthly payment to make. Additionally, the credit union may offer a more favorable interest rate than what you are paying on your credit cards.
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service
The Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) helps people who are struggling to pay their credit card bills. If you cannot afford the monthly payments or are already behind in your payments, then the CCCS will try to negotiate affordable payments on your behalf. The agency designs a monthly budget that you agree to abide by until your debts are paid.
Struggling to Pay for your Medicine
- Pharmaceutical companies have programs to help people who are struggling to pay for their prescription medicine. Some companies provide vouchers for free medicine while others will mail coupons for significant savings. Your pharmacy may have a program for reduced-price medicine for people without health insurance.
- Local/State Government
In addition to, helping you with your utilities, the government also has other programs to defray daycare expenses for working parents. Visit your state social services office to find out what programs you qualify for and how to apply.
- Retirement Account
Some retirement accounts permit withdrawals for emergencies, such as a family facing eviction. Check with your bank or employee benefits office to find out if this is possible. You will pay an IRS penalty for early withdrawal.
- Churches and Charities
Churches and charities, such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities USA, may offer assistance in any of several ways. A church may offer free or reduced daycare as well as groceries, financial assistance and emotional support to a struggling family. Charities may offer all of the above as well as housing for a homeless family, retraining programs to become more employable and clothing for job interviews.
Post published by Melissa Roach, our Product Review & Giveaway Specialist.
Melissa is a Full Time Mom & Blogger HERE (please check out her blog!)
A big thanks to eHow for this great article!