With inflation still soaring and a recession likely on the horizon, it’s a tough time for many Americans. During difficult financial periods, people are often forced to turn to their savings, but those may not even last you very long in this rocky climate.
According to Finder’s Consumer Confidence Index, 21% of respondents said they couldn’t live off their savings for more than a week.
What are you to do if you can’t get by during the holidays? Fortunately there are organizations and systems in place to help.
Reach Out to Charities and Non-Profit Organizations
“Many charities and non-profit organizations offer assistance to families in need during the holidays, including food banks, toy drives and other assistance programs,” said Andrew Lokenauth, founder of Fluent in Finance.
The Salvation Army is a great place to start.
“The Salvation Army offers assistance at Christmastime through its annual Christmas gift drive,” said Carl Jensen, the founder of Compare Banks. “Children and young people receive gifts thanks to the Christmas present drive.”
Check With Local Churches and Faith-Based Organizations
“Many churches and faith-based organizations offer assistance to families in need during the holidays, including food banks, toy drives and other assistance programs,” Lokenauth said. “Some may also offer financial counseling and other support services.”
Look Into Government Assistance Programs
Lokenauth added, “The government offers several assistance programs to help low-income families during the holidays, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).”
Explore Employee Assistance Programs
“Employee assistance programs (EAPs) allow access to personal service discounts for things like child care, food and insurance,” said Samantha Hawrylack, a personal finance expert and co-founder of How To FIRE. “They also offer access to mental health resources like trained counselors and professionals.”
Hawrylack said EAPs can offer access to health and caregiving services, family services, counseling referrals, substance abuse support and financial services.
“Around the holidays, these services may have greater perks,” Hawrylack continued. “In addition to those listed previously, like counseling which helps with anxiety or depression from the increased demands of the season, these programs offer specific holiday support.
“Employees can utilize EAP for free services such as free tickets to holiday shows and options for affordable vacation packages so that employees can enjoy some much-needed respite from work and personal duties. EAPs will also offer support through clothing and toy drives so families … in desperate need can [have] a warm and happy holiday.
“This is often done through donations from other employees in the company who feel equipped to buy for others and may pick from an angel tree system.”
Coordinate With Your Local Food Bank
. “If you don’t know anyone affiliated with your local food bank, you can go to Feeding America’s website and search for the nearest place that provides food support.”
Garcia pointed out that the site has tabs for programs such as mobile pantries, senior food programs, SNAP application assistance and more.
“Each state has the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which is a viable option for pregnant women and struggling families … that may be looking for assistance,” said Lucia Jensen, CEO of WeLoans. “The program is available to help pay for food, utilities, shelter and any other expenses, except medical.”
Visit the Help for Families page on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site. Select your state to find the information you need to secure financial help.
As Jensen notes, you can receive TANF assistance for no more than 60 months in your lifetime.
“To figure out what assistance you might be qualified for, use the Turn2us Grants Search,” Carl Jensen said. “Although the majority of charitable organizations don’t offer special grants to assist individuals in paying for Christmas, one might consider such requests based on your unique situation and background.
“During Christmas, there is frequently more demand for their goods, so you must register earlier. Other organizations may offer grants to meet essential requirements, freeing up some of your money to cover Christmas-related costs.”
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