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Ramsey column: Bridging the gap during times like these

Dave Ramsey
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Dear Dave,

In light of recent events in our country, do you have suggestions for things people should think about and plan for if they get laid off from their jobs?

Sam

Dear Sam,

It’s no secret that things are shutting down all across the world. If your workplace has closed its doors and isn’t offering pay, then it’s time to regroup and get some things in order. The thought of being without a paycheck can be overwhelming, but a little thought and planning can help you get through times like these.

Start living on a budget, if you aren’t doing so already. Making a monthly budget will show you exactly where your money is going. Without it, you can’t use every dollar to its fullest potential, because you don’t even know how much money you have to work with. Plus, your budget will show places where you can cut back and save money.

If you don’t have any income right now, make a budget based on the amount of money on hand. If you have $600 left to your name, budget out exactly where each of those dollars will go. It’s time to squeeze every last penny out of what you’ve got. If you still have cash coming in from a spouse’s job or some other source, then adjust your budget to reflect that. Maybe the two of you usually bring in a combined $5,000 a month. Adjust your budget to live off that one income for the time being.

When the going gets tough, you need to focus on the things you really need to survive - food, utilities, shelter and transportation. I call these the Four Walls. If there’s any money left over after you take care of the Four Walls, make a list of what else you need to pay, and tackle those in order of importance. Reach out to anyone you can’t pay, and explain the situation. They might be able to work something out, but they can’t help if they don’t know. Be upfront with them, and pray for the best.

When you’re just trying to make it to another day, you don’t need to pay extra on debt. Instead, focus on piling up cash. Once life gets back to normal and everything is okay, you can pick up where you left off with your debt snowball. If it’s within your budget to keep making minimum payments on your debt, go for it. But the Four Walls come first. This is also the time to sell anything and everything you don’t need to make some extra cash.

With so much being shut down right now, there might not be as many traditional ways to make extra money. So, look into driving for Amazon, delivering takeout food or dropping off grocery orders. Even if one of those doesn’t work out, you can still take up odd jobs around your neighborhood. Be on the lookout for opportunities that will add a few extra bucks to your pocket. Don’t forget to cut back on unnecessary expenses, either. Stop or pause your subscriptions. Call your cable, internet and cellular providers to see if there’s anything they’ll do to work with you.

Finally, in times of real need, don’t be too proud to ask for a helping hand. Many churches and community groups in your area exist for situations just like this.

God bless you all!

Dave

Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books, including "The Total Money Makeover." "The Dave Ramsey Show" is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at daveramsey.com and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.