Financial Help for Hard Times
Financial assistance when you need it most
Financial ups and downs are a fact of life. And whether your difficulties are caused by world events or personal challenges, it's good to know there's help when you need it. Here's a list of available resources.
Financial assistance when you need it most
If you've recently lost a job and your employer-sponsored health insurance, take steps right away to get benefits.
- Unemployment Benefits Finder: See how to file for unemployment benefits in your state and get important updates.
- COBRA: Compare continuing health insurance offered by your former employer to marketplace coverage and costs to see what's best for you.
If you're concerned about paying the rent or mortgage, first contact your landlord or lender (where you send monthly payments) to ask about relief options. You can also explore these alternatives.
- Learn about Forbearance: Find steps to temporarily pause or reduce mortgage payments depending on your situation.
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Get free counseling and information about rental assistance, homelessness prevention, temporary housing, and more.
If you're concerned about utility costs, contact your service providers for help and look into lower-cost options. Here are some possible solutions.
- LIHEAP: Get help with your home energy bill.
- Lifeline: Lower the monthly costs of phone or internet service.
- EveryoneOn: Find low-cost internet service and computers in your area.
Health insurance is essential—make sure your family is fully covered. These links will help you review your choices.
- HealthCare.gov: Sign up for health insurance through federal and state exchanges.
- Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator: Estimate your eligibility for subsidies and the level of coverage you can afford, as well as eligibility for Medicaid.
- Medicare/Medicaid: Navigate Medicare choices with state-specific counseling and assistance.
- Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): See if your children qualify and apply for low-cost health coverage.
Get organized and make the most of your money with smart budgeting tools.
- Monthly Budget Planner: Try an easy way to get started and stay on track.
- Spending Tracker: Track your spending to make smarter choices.
Credit and debt
If you need help managing debt, contact your lenders to ask about relief rate and payment options. Here are a couple of other ways to help you get back on track.
- Annual Credit Report: Get a free report and check your credit.
- Credit counseling: Talk to a counselor about ways to reduce your debt.
If you're struggling with federal student loans, look into relief programs.
- Federal Student Loan Debt Relief: Find out if you're eligible and how to apply.
- NSLDS: Find your specific loan and servicer information.
Food and nutrition
When rising food costs present a challenge, there are a variety ways to help your family maintain a healthy diet.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: Find food budgeting ideas and tips.
- USDA Food Plans: Find nutritious diets at different cost levels.
- Nutrition Assistance: Learn about and apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
If you need legal assistance, look into free or low-cost legal services. See if your employer offers any group legal benefits, then explore these options.
- Free legal help: Get help solving legal programs with federally funded services.
- Bankruptcy basics: Get information about federal bankruptcy laws and the process.
Safety and security
Scams and fraud abound so always be on alert and aware of how to protect yourself.
- If you suspect you've been the victim of any form of financial fraud or identity theft, notify your financial institution and creditors immediately.
- Be aware of types of fraud and related scams.
- IC3: File a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- If you’re a Schwab client, find more information here about how your security and financial assets are protected.
Find low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital and more.
- SBA Relief Options: See what types of assistance are available for small businesses.
When it comes to income taxes, take advantage of tax credits and consider consulting a tax professional.
- Earned Income Tax Credit: Helps low-to-moderate income families get a tax break.
- Child Tax Credit: This could get you up to $3,600 per child.
- AICPA: Find a licensed tax professional.
- Free tax help: Find out about free tax return preparation and counseling.
More information, tools and ideas to help you stay on top of your finances.
Money Talk columns. Our team of certified financial experts offer guidance to help you move your financial life forward in our biweekly column.
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