Skip to Content

How to Handle Financial Emergencies and Obstacles

How to Handle Financial Emergencies and Obstacles

7 Tips to Handle Financial Emergencies and Obstacles

The past few years have been an absolute roller coaster for everyone.

2020 was intense for everyone and the reality is most are still trying to get back on their feet or find some sense of normal.

In January 2020, we were evacuated due to the Shoalhaven area bushfires where we were house and pet sitting.

Then in late January both an aunt and uncle died within 24 hours of each other overseas requiring an emergency trip back and a total change of plans.

In February we were in Sydney with flooding issues as we tried to leave for Vanuatu. Sickness spread across the world.

Early March we flew to the Solomon Islands for a family matter, at the same time my business had some major issues impacting our income.

While we were on an outer island in the Solomons, Australia closed its borders and all flights were cancelled.

My flight money was held instead of refunded and we had to find somewhere to live in Honiara, requiring a bond and advanced rent I wasn’t expecting.

The Australian High Commission in the Solomon Islands arranged a flight home.

We had to be on it as I didn’t have a long-term visa, at a cost of 4 times what I had paid for our original tickets home.

Leaving so quickly and unexpectedly, I had to forfeit the bond I had paid on our rental.

Back home we were put into quarantine for 2 weeks with no open windows or access to outside at all then had to find somewhere to live, buy a car and set up our lives from scratch.

Prior to this, homelessness, domestic violence and massive legal bills while fighting for custody (which I won) were all emergencies I have experienced.

Huge medical bills due to paralysis (twice), cancer issues, surgery and other health issues.

My teens have autism, ADHD, PTSD (although not so much now) and required extensive help, along with Invisalign and a few other things recently.

I’ve faced my share of financial obstacles and come out the other side.

Here are my top tips to help you overcome financial obstacles and handle emergencies.

Image of firefighters fighting bushfires. Text reads how to prepare and plan for an emergency and 7 tips to help you recover.

This post may contain affiliate links for products and services I personally use. You can read the full disclosure.

1. Have an Emergency Fund

Looking back, we can all see ways we could have done better, should have saved more etc.

Instead of dwelling on it, learn from it and start building an emergency fund now, whether you think you’ll need it or not.

Dave Ramsey always said $1,000 then pay off debt then build 3 to 6 months. Scott Pape (The Barefoot Investor) said $2,000 to begin with.

Personally, well before The Barefoot Investor was recommending it, $2,000 was the minimum I wanted in my emergency fund.

Most emergencies I’ve had were $2,000 or more and recently, if I didn’t have over $10,000 to draw on, I would not have been able to repatriate (that’s what our flights cost).

And if I didn’t have ways to quickly pull together more, we would not have had the money for bond, rent, furniture etc in a ridiculous property market.

I avoid thinking about what that could have meant for us.

In order to get your emergency fund together and have extra cash, I recommend doing a financial review to see where your finances are at, cut back where you can e.g 24 ways to easily save money.

Then look at all the things you can do to make more money e.g these 24 ideas for 2024 that all pay over $25hr, some over $100hr.

Set up a separate bank account for your emergency fund so you aren’t tempted to dip into it all the time.

ING have a $100 bonus offer on at the moment (but do you research to see which bank is best for you).

What if you Don’t Have an Emergency Fund?

Throughout my life I have faced obstacles without any emergency fund and had to work it out.

Ideally, avoid debt especially payday loans or quick loan places as most of them have extremely high interest that makes it next to impossible to get rid of the debt.

Instead, you need to do 2 things – make more money and save more.

How to Make More Money

First, go through your house, garage, everywhere and see if you have anything you can sell that you don’t need.

Doing this I can usually generate some cash instantly and I’ve done well with reselling.

Check out my tips for buying things to resell. Read about when I first started and my second month for more ideas.

Cash in all points with reward programs and from all online surveys or join them to get some side cash.

Look for lost money and see if you are eligible for any free money or vouchers (state by state info here).

Return any items you don’t need but purchased recently if you can.

Sign up for freebies and do everything you can to get that cash together.

For more ideas on how to make extra money read 43 ways for single mums to make money. How I made $33,277 on the side in 12 months and 31 ways to make and save $200 or more.

My eBook 99 Side Hustles for Aussies has the ideas and how to do them, how to market them, tips for tax and more.

How to Save More Money

Go over every area of your budget and see where you can make some changes. Annually my finances are reviewed, sometimes saving me over $4,000.

Read about how I do my annual financial review. Also, read how to make and save money on everything.

Note: If you like freebies and discounts, check out how to get a $100 cash bonus from ING, $14 from Up Bank or have a look at the full list of freebies, offers and discounts for every state.

What if you can’t Make or Save More for Your Emergency?

I went into debt to secure custody of my children as it was so expensive.

Fortunately, my parents lent me the cash for that but there have been a couple of other times I needed small loans.

When I did that, I researched my options, only borrowed what I needed to and paid it off fast.

My preference is to avoid going into extra debt.

Most of the time when we are in dire straits, we probably aren’t in the position to borrow money.

This means you’ll end up borrowing from payday lenders or those short-term loans which cost a fortune in interest.

If you choose to borrow, read the fine print, and know the conditions and the interest charges.

Read 6 tips to easily reduce your debt which includes tips on dealing with debt collectors (Dad used to be one!)

2. Get Real About Your Emergency

Is it really an emergency or is it just a tight spot? Bushfires, cyclones, health issues, and leaving an abusive relationship, are emergencies.

Overspending then not having enough for a specific bill is not an emergency and there are probably things you can do to get around it.

Sit down, work out your budget, and look at your expenses and what your emergency is.

Are there other ways it can be managed? Is government help available?

Check charities if you are in a position where that would be relevant or if you are a member of a church, ask your pastor/bishop/minister for help.

If it is something such as not enough money to pay the bill, ask for an extension from the company and set up a payment plan.

Then stick to it! Charities can assist in paying bills, as can most churches for their members.

Check out how to survive on Centrelink to see all the things you might be entitled to that could help.

Image of a man and woman linking arms and looking at the ocean. Text reads how to prepare and plan for an emergency and 7 tips to help you recover.

3. Get Emotional/Mental Support

Either counselling or psychology if necessary. Financial emergencies and obstacles can put a huge strain on your mental health which causes more issues.

If you need counselling or psychology to get through, do it. There are helplines set up for different circumstances so at a minimum, use that.

If the people in your life (family and friends) can be trusted and are supportive, let them know what is going on.

Too often in my life, I kept my problems to myself. When I finally cracked and let people know I needed help, they were more than happy to do it.

For example, in 2015, I was paralysed on and off with level 10 pain. Level 10 is pain so intense you blackout.

Childbirth is a level 8 and I have given birth 3 times without pain relief, my pain in 2015 was significantly worse.

I tried to take care of everything without ‘bothering’ others.

One day, it got to the point where I couldn’t cope anymore.

I sent an email to my family outlining the help I needed and that I had no idea when or if I would ever get better.

They stepped up immediately. Meals delivered, taking my kids to school, cleaning my house, everything. If you need support or help, ask for it.

Don’t be too proud because it will cost you more in the long run.

4. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

You don’t need to be totally happy all the time but learning to have an attitude of gratitude can change a situation.

By changing how you view a situation, your brain can look for solutions.

In 2012, I had just left my abusive husband, taking my 2 young children to a new rental.

We’d applied for an AVO (protection order) and I was already dealing with the financial hurdle of this split, when within a week I was robbed of everything including my underwear.

It was only my personal belongings that were stolen, nothing else in the house was touched.

Feeling violated, bawling my eyes out I called the police to report it then called my Dad. Once I’d calmed down, I wrote a gratitude list.

What’s a Gratitude List?

A list of reasons to be grateful for something. On this night, I managed to come up with around 14 reasons to be grateful I was robbed.

The reasons ranged from being grateful I had insurance and could now buy new clothes instead of having to use what I had from my marriage through to being grateful my children and I were not home when we were robbed.

Whenever something bad happens, I try to write a gratitude list, even if it is simply listing 3 things to be grateful for in my head.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done for some. When I was younger, I had depression and found gratitude difficult.

Once I started asking myself the following questions, it got much easier and things that appeared to be obstacles were easier to overcome.

Many were blessings in disguise.

  1. What lesson can I learn from this?
  2. How can I be grateful this happened?
  3. What opportunity can come from this?

With the robbery, I was able to use the money to pay for the extensive speech therapy and psychology my children needed.

I was able to buy new to me clothing and no longer have anything that was attached to my ex-husband.

We had money to start our new life. So many blessings came from it but it took a little while to see that. The gratitude list helped.

5. Know What You Want

Have a clear direction on what you need as an end result.

In some of my life examples, when I left the abusive marriage, my end result was full custody of my children and safety for us.

It took 7.5 years due to massive delays in court (2 years at one point) and him playing games but I got it.

With the paralysis and level 10 pain, my desired outcome was to be healthy again.

Despite doctors telling me it was permanent, I refused to accept that and did what I could to heal myself.

When it came to the more recent emergencies, such as the closing of the Australian border, each step I decided what I wanted and it fell into place.

When I wasn’t clear on what I wanted, I faced more obstacles. Be really clear on the result you want.

Image of a lightning storm. Text reads how to prepare and plan for an emergency and 7 tips to help you recover.

6. Negotiate

Whatever the financial emergency is, you might have room to negotiate and get it reduced or get an extension.

Ask for discounts, extensions and if there is any assistance available for everything you have to deal with.

Be calm, polite and try to know your facts as much as possible so you know what options are available.

A few examples, when I had to have multiple surgeries I called the anaesthesiologist (as advised by my surgeon) as they set their own rates. He did it no gap instead, saving me over $1,000.

My surgeon and everyone else involved did it all no gap and my health insurance gave me 6 weeks free to help as well.

All while still covering everything I was having done.

By making a couple of phone calls, being friendly and polite, asking if there was any assistance due to my circumstances, I saved thousands and was able to focus on my recovery.

Always ask, the worst they can do is say no but if they say yes, you can save heaps.

I also discovered each one gave me more info or other options for extra help too, so it wasn’t just them waiving their fees or something, it was as much as they could possibly do which was wonderful.

7. Learn To Let Go

Some things are outside our control. Whenever we face emergencies or obstacles, we need to assess and do what we can while letting go of whatever we can’t control.

This can be difficult when you are in survival mode, trying to make ends meet and make it all work.

I’ve found when I focus on what I can do, and the end result I want and let the rest go, it all falls into place.

How Can You Let Go?

It is not something I do perfectly all the time but there are a few resources that helped. Learning to meditate and ensuring I did it daily was my first step.

Books including Unleash Your Inner Money Babe: Uplevel Your Money Mindset and Manifest $1,000 In 21 Days by Kathrin Zenkina. Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas. You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero. E Squared by Pam Grout. And The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

Counselling or psychology helped me talk through my issues and see things from a different perspective.

What Else Can You Do?

Financial emergencies don’t need to ruin you completely. Bouncing back from these obstacles might not be easy but it is worth it to try.

If you feel it is too much, please call a helpline and don’t try to do it all on your own.

Preparations For An Emergency

Once it is over or close to over and money stress has eased a little, look at what you can do to prepare better for emergencies.

Firstly, a strong emergency fund helps. This money should not be invested in shares or stored in a way where it would be difficult to get if needed.

Next, look at having some food storage and storing other items you need or use on a regular basis.

First aid, toiletries, basic foods, cleaning products if you use them and some supplies can go a long way to save money when facing an emergency.

Evaluate your life, home, car, everything and work out what potential emergencies you may face so you can plan accordingly.

For example, in Vanuatu, cyclones, earthquakes and similar are common so there are emergency plans in place.

Our family (in-laws) built a solid home that withstood multiple category 4 and 5 cyclones and has protected many families in the area.

They’ve survived these natural disasters by being prepared.

In Australia, bushfires, flooding, cyclones up north and massive storms are not uncommon.

Each scenario requires a specific emergency plan.

Be prepared for wherever you live and any situation you may face.

Mostly, save as much as you can. Pay down debt and plan for the future so that when the next emergency hits you, you are better prepared and can bounce back more easily.

A few things that can make a big difference:

  • Emergency fund of at least $2,000
  • A go pack with a change of clothes, food etc.
  • Having an emergency plan so if you need to evacuate or bunker down, everyone knows what to do.
  • Some food storage and water, a small first aid kit etc.
  • A first aid kit for your car
  • Insurance! If you cannot afford to replace it, you cannot afford to skip insurance.

What tips would you add? How have you dealt with an emergency?

Image of the road after a bushfire in Jervis Bay, 2020, lined by burnt gum trees. Photo by Justin Saula of Black Beard Photography.

Image by Justin Saula of Blackbeard Photography. Taken on Forest Road, Callala Bay, January, 2020, after the bushfires over Christmas and New Year’s.

For more ways to make and save money follow us on social media:

The Thrifty Issue Facebook Page
The Thrifty Issue Facebook Group
The Thrifty Issue Instagram

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

It's a Readlief!

Thursday 28th of May 2020

This is such an inspiring post. The Gratitude List is my favorite :)

The Thrifty Issue

Thursday 28th of May 2020

Thank you. It is amazing what a difference gratitude makes.

Sophie Harriet

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

This is such a useful post, you've included everything from practical solutions to mindset and gratitude. It sounds like you have been through such a lot of hardship and I really admire you for coming out the other side and sharing all this information to help others too!

The Thrifty Issue

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Thank you. I am glad you found it useful.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.