Are you one misfortune away from financial disaster?

You may have had rough patches in the past, but you were always able to stay on top of your finances. However, lately, you may feel your budget is a little tighter. Your paycheck doesn't seem to stretch as far as it used to. Perhaps you are starting to get notices that payments are late on a credit card or even your mortgage.

Unlike other people you may have heard about, you feel as if you are one of the fortunate ones. You have a good job, good health and a nice home. You may not have much in the bank, but you have everything you need to live a happy life. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how those other people ended up in such desperate situations?

Paycheck to paycheck

Do you have supplemental insurance? What about short-term disability? How much money do you have in your emergency fund? Are you able to pay off your credit card balances each month? If these questions make you uneasy, you may be closer to desperate times than you want to admit. Financial advisors warn consumers to prepare for common events that may break your family's stability. Many people who are struggling with debts they can't pay will likely attest to the one final straw that brought things crashing down, for example:

  • You, your spouse or a child become ill with a chronic or catastrophic illness such as cancer.
  • You become permanently disabled on the job or in a car accident.
  • Your employer files for bankruptcy or forces salary reductions.
  • Your family has an unexpected pregnancy.
  • You or your spouse suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • Your wages are garnished because you fall behind on taxes or child support.

Of course, you can't rule out the possibility of a natural disaster in New Jersey, such as a flood that destroys your home or place of employment.

No more bad news

Life is unpredictable, and these are only a few of the events that may catch you off guard and leave you unprepared to meet your financial obligations. If you are already walking a delicate line with your budget, you may find it takes much less than a natural disaster or catastrophic illness to make you feel as though you are drowning. You may already have that feeling, along with the uncertainty of what to do about it.

Fortunately, no matter the state of your finances, there are options to help you deal with overwhelming debt. Even if you are already in the process of foreclosure or the IRS is garnishing your wages, there are steps you can take that could put you on the path to a fresh start and a brighter tomorrow.

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