Need Emergency Financial Assistance? Here’s What to Do

| 6 min read Financial Assistance

You wouldn’t be alone if you’ve ever found yourself worrying about how to get help with bills or other emergency expenses that pop up out of the blue. According to a 2023 Bankrate report, 57% of Americans can’t afford a $1,000 emergency expense, and their emergency funds are dwindling with the rising cost of living.

We understand how difficult it can be to get help with finances, but know that there is hope. There are resources available to you if you need emergency financial assistance and aren’t sure how to get rid of debt. Learn more about the ways you can find your way back from a personal financial crisis through government assistance, nonprofit programs, and online fundraising.

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What to do when a financial crisis strikes

During a financial crisis, reviewing your financial help options is important to avoid the pitfalls of credit card billing, predatory lenders, and other harmful debt relief solutions. Follow these tips:

  • Stay calm:  Better said than done, but try to overcome feelings of panic and hopelessness and list ways to find emergency cash assistance through legitimate avenues. 
  • Know your priorities: Reassess your budget and prioritize your spending. Look for ways to cut non-essential expenses to an absolute minimum.
  • Ask for help: Seek advice from friends and family you trust and ask how to get financial help for your situation. They can offer a few ways to get emergency financial assistance.

Programs that provide emergency financial assistance

Even with a new budget and a renewed focus, a financial emergency can still make it incredibly difficult to pay monthly bills and stay out of debt. If you’re still struggling to pay for expensive medical treatments, survive unpaid maternity leave, or deal with any other unexpected costs, there are public and private programs that can help you regain your footing.

Government assistance programs

These programs offer government grants, subsidies, and training to help individuals and families looking for emergency money assistance. Whether you need to pay medical bills right away or find emergency rental assistance, these government assistance programs may help. 

Government food programs

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides each state with federal grants to operate its TANF program. The eligibility requirements and programs vary from state to state, but they generally help with basic necessities like food, housing, and more.

Government utility assistance

  • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that helps people winterize their homes to reduce their utility bills. LIHEAP can also help with low-cost repairs to heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Check with your state and county governments for emergency financial help programs available in your area through government-funded utility and rental assistance programs. 
  • If you have a low income or receive benefits from a federal assistance program, you may be eligible for a discounted cell phone or internet service through Lifeline, a government assistance program. Your household size and income determine your eligibility.

Government help with housing costs

Government medical assistance

  • The Medicare Savings Programs offer four different ways for low-income families and individuals to pay for premiums, copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, patient care, and other medical expenses.

Nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance 

There are also numerous nonprofit programs and grants that aim to help people with everything from food and housing to out of pocket medical expenses and child care assistance

Nonprofit food assistance programs

  • Feeding America is a nonprofit that provides emergency food assistance through their network of 200+ food banks and over 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the country. The organization also helps those in need find long-term assistance through government programs, even helping with the application process.

Nonprofit help with utilities

  • United Way’s 2-1-1 helps those in need with a broad range of services, including utility assistance. Trained professionals are available to help around the clock when you call 2-1-1 so you can ask how to get financial help.
  • Modest Needs provides financial assistance for an array of needs, with a special focus on short-term needs, like financial help with housing costs and utility assistance. The organization offers what they call “self-sufficiency grants” to help those struggling to get back on their feet.

Nonprofit housing assistance for mortgage and rent costs

  • Community Action Partnership helps more than 148,000 families gain safe and affordable housing every year. It also provides training and referrals to other government resources so impoverished communities can find financial relief.
  • Volunteers of America believes that home is more than just a shelter—it’s a cornerstone of stability and security. The nonprofit houses over 25,000 seniors, veterans, families, and others in need each year in different locations across the country.

Nonprofit help with medical costs 

What if you aren’t eligible for assistance programs?

Red tape and lengthy application processes can be frustrating and discouraging when applying for government benefits, but don’t worry—there are other ways to find financial relief immediately. Crowdfunding can become an essential part of your financial recovery. 

Need help fast? Crowdfunding to the rescue

Countless people in your position have turned to online fundraising when they needed emergency financial help right away, whether for a natural disaster or an unexpected illness to share with their friends and social media network. 

Rest assured, emergency fundraising for housing costs, utilities, medical bills, and everything in between is easy with GoFundMe. We offer a simple set-up process, 24/7 customer support, and a blog full of fundraising tips and ideas, like how to share offline through texting or WhatsApp.

It’s completely understandable to feel a sense of regret or guilt when reaching out for assistance during a financial crisis. However, it’s important to remember that those closest to you genuinely care about your well-being and want to see you succeed. Accepting help from those who love you can make all the difference in getting through this challenging time.

Find financial freedom right now

When you’re unsure how to apply for emergency financial help and feel like you’ve reached a roadblock, GoFundMe is here for you. If you haven’t already, start a fundraiser and get support from the community around you to overcome this crisis.

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Written by GoFundMe