How do I get Financial Help?

wiseGEEK Writer

There are many ways to get financial help, although it should be stated that since the mid to late 2000s, some methods for getting help have dried up or become much less charitable in their endeavors due to lack of funds. Yet the resourceful person may still be able to find ways to meet financial obligations and to cut spending in various directions in order to meet smaller monthly budgets or rising costs. The following is only a partial list of ways to get financial help, and people should view any agency they use as a means of getting more information about programs that may assist them.

Financial help may be required if paying bills becomes extremely difficult.
Financial help may be required if paying bills becomes extremely difficult.

Charities still exist which can offer people ways to cut costs or may give one time or occasional assistance for paying bills or getting medical care. If people lack insurance, one means toward financial help is using low or sliding scale fee medical clinics. Even when people do not qualify for government healthcare programs, they may still be able to access clinics to treat medical conditions or even to help with kids’ dental care. These clinics can save tons of money when it comes to healthcare costs and they may have either low or no cost services for the uninsured.

A copy of financial statements is required to prove eligibility for many financial help programs.
A copy of financial statements is required to prove eligibility for many financial help programs.

Families should definitely investigate programs that may be designed to offer financial help. A number of power companies have reduced rates if families (even in middle income brackets) are having trouble meeting electricity and gas bills. Ask local power companies if they have any such service that might help reduce costs. Another place to look to save money is through reduced price lunch programs at schools, which may, depending upon income qualification, save a lot of money in school lunches. Some of these programs are offered year round, and kids can get free or low prices lunches, and sometimes breakfast, through summer months too.

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Obviously there are government programs that can help with financial help. These can include unemployment pay when people suddenly lose jobs, welfare assistance, participation in low income housing programs, medical care and food stamp programs. Most of these are income based, and usually require people to be at or just above poverty level, in order to participate, though this is not the case with unemployment benefits.

Some government assistant programs may be fairly new and haven’t been tested entirely. Discretion given to banks or bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages is such a plan available in the US as of early 2009. Such programs may allow people to keep their homes with smaller mortgage payments than the ones they ordinarily paid.

People may also find some financial help by restructuring their debt. Even if unable to obtain new mortgages, there are many companies that will work with people to reduce current interest rates on debt and come up with reasonable payments a person or family can afford to make which pay down debt without accruing lots more in interest. Credit counseling services are the main means by which families may be able to restructure debt so they can make affordable payments.

Charities can still help with financial assistance or other things in many ways. Lots of charities have food banks, and these can help stretch monthly food budgets, though they usually can’t provide enough to fully feed a family. Some charities do one-time assistance to pay for things like rent or electric payments, though people may again need to qualify by income, and they usually have to request these services toward the beginning of the month. Most charities are tapped by the end of the month.

Local church communities may also help families in extraordinary circumstances. They might, for instance, take up special collections to help pay for a family’s trip to a hospital that is not in the community. This really does depend upon the individual church and the level of charitable activity it maintains.

Another means by which some people gain financial help or relief from debt is by claiming bankruptcy. By starting fresh, some people are able to do much better, and sometimes this is the only method by which people may be able to continue to afford the very basic things in life. As mentioned though, with each agency used, ask about other programs that might help with financial assistance. There can be many scattered ones in a community or even in a country. It can be hard to find them all, but with a little due diligence, people may find the means to continue to go on in these hard economic times.

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