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22 Ways To Confidently Navigate A Financial Crisis

This Simple Plan Will Bring You Some Much Needed Comfort

The global pandemic of 2020 caught a lot of people off guard and caused many to go frantically searching for answers as to how to navigate it.

Understandable. It's a scary time. And fear requires a plan to help properly navigate the uncertainty with a sense of confidence.

And, whether it's a global pandemic or any other type of financial crisis, this short guide is meant to give a little bit more step-by-step granularity.


By the way, if you want a downloadable PDF version of this post, just click the link or on the image below: 22 Ways To Confidently Navigate A Financial Crisis.


So, follow each of these points in order, as closely as you can and you will successfully navigate this crisis AND actually sort of “trick yourself” into making a huge dent in your debt or toward your financial independence once the crisis subsides.

Also, as you're entering into this process, I want to encourage you to:

1) subscribe to our YouTube channel for ongoing strategies and encouragement and

2) go ahead and join Zero Debt Tribe, our private Facebook community  aiming at helping you to connect with others, to get your questions answered and to stay the course.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at: [email protected] when you have questions, need help or just need someone to talk to during this difficult time. We love you, want the best for you and are here for you during this time.


22 Ways To Confidently Navigate A Financial Crisis


1. If you’re contributing to retirement, stop for the time being.

You can resume once this crisis has subsided and things are more “back to normal”. This strategy is actually “Step 0” in my free 17 page,  8 Steps To Erase Debt Guide.


2. If you’ve been paying down debt, press “pause” and continue to make minimum payments if you can. 

Again, if you can continue to make minimum payments, do that. If you can’t, that’s where you’ll want to take a look at our “4 Walls” strategy covered below. Especially if you can’t pay all of your debt payments, start communicating with your creditors at least monthly. 


Watch Our "Financial Crisis Survival" YouTube Series:



3. Build Your Emergency Fund - Everything “extra” that you’ve been putting into retirement or to paying off debt needs to instead be thrown at your emergency fund. 

This is the time that you want to build your emergency fund to as large a number as possible. I would say aim for at least 6 months worth of expenses, possibly even up to a year or more. When the dust settles and the smoke clears and you’re able to go back to a more “normal” posture, you can always take a “chunk” of your emergency fund and throw it at debt.


4. Make a list of ALL of your current and future bills, expenses and debts.

This will probably be tedious and overwhelming at first and it won’t be perfect. Resolve to start imperfectly and go for it. Make a list of every bill, expense and debt using this "Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet. Then, you can just adjust or cut as  you start keeping track of everything you’re spending money on.


5. Build a written budget.

Using this Budget PDF Form or this Budget Excel Spreadsheet (not recommended for new budgeters. I recommend you do it on paper for at least 90 days before you try spreadsheets or apps.). 

Budgeting on paper allows you to JUST focus on learning how to budget rather than on learning how to budget AND learning the ins and outs of an app. Believe me, as a coach, I’ve seen thousands of people try to “start with an app” and it DOESN’T work. 

Set yourself up for success by doing it on paper first.


6. If you need to, break the budget down further into expenses due per pay period (every two weeks). 

It sounds more difficult than it actually is. It's really all about sitting down, writing out what's due and when and then aligning those bills with your pay periods. 


7. Protect Your “4 Walls” "The 4 Walls" PDF (Download)

Once you’ve listed out all your bills, expenses and debts, you’ll be able to see “where you are” financially. Then, you can really start making some decisions about what to pay and what not to pay. You can always start with the 4 most important things (your “4 Walls”), and go from there:

  1. Housing - This would include keeping your mortgage, rent and utilities (water, electricity, gas, internet (especially if you work from home) current.
  2. Food - This would include just buying groceries and staying away from eating out (which is likely not a good idea right now anyway) or ordering in/takeout.
  3. Transportation - Staying current on all your transportation (i.e. car payments, insurance payments). In the current environment, this is likely a little diminished as some of the best advice is really to #stayhome.
  4. Clothing - This should hopefully not be a huge consideration as you hopefully have sufficient clothing at the moment, but I bring it up because it is part of “The 4 Walls”.



So again, only focus on your 4 Walls -  Take care of the basics and leave the rest for another day. I’ve reordered this particular version of The 4 Walls in accordance with the current “quarantine” situation.

Keep in mind, that this may even mean stopping all minimum or “pro-rata” payments to debtors (if you don’t know what that is, then don’t worry about it right now).. Remember, you’re in crisis posture here and the most important thing is to live to fight another day.

For more detail around this strategy, check out the post: What To Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills.

Here’s my YouTube video that goes into detail about “The 4 Walls”, but essentially you stop paying all of your non-essential expenses, debt payments, etc. and JUST focus on these 4 things:  



8. Track every single dollar you spend using this Expense Tracking PDF Form.

Whether it’s a pen and paper, a smartphone app or a fancy form you download, resolve that every penny that gets spent, gets logged.


9. Reconcile your expenses with your budget every day (or at least once a week).

This means every time you go spend money, immediately come back to the budget and “reconcile” or subtract what you’ve spent from the available amount in the budget.


10. Cut/Reduce/Substitute expenses in your budget using the following downloadable resources help you get some ideas:


11. Sell anything and everything you don’t need and/or you’re not using (everything BUT the kids). :)

  • Go through the attic, basement, garage and storage unit (it’s a really good time to get rid of that storage unit, by the way) and look for stuff to sell.

  • Check with your network, let them know your situation and see if any one needs what you have.

  • Go to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, LetGo or other online markets to sell your stuff. Don’t be too precious about the prices. Your stuff is almost always worth less than what you think it is. Remember, we’re doing what we need to do to build a pile of cash asap.



12. Stop eating out in restaurants and doing “takeout”.

Unless you work in a restaurant as a side hustle and you’re getting either free or deeply discounted meals, resolve to stop eating out or getting "takeout". This should be all groceries.

Get on a weekly meal plan using this Weekly Meal Planning PDF Form. This will help you both on the financial side as well as on the sanity side.


13. Sell your car (payment) and drive something less expensive.

If you have a second car and think you can do without it, sell it, especially if there’s a payment on it.


14. Start using cash-only to buy stuff.

If it makes sense, you can start using the cash envelope system.

This is where you have a cash envelope that you stuff with cash every month for certain categories (like: gasoline, groceries, hair care, etc.).

Cash is HARD to part with, much harder than a card swipe parting you from your hard earned money. That’s a good thing!


15. Get extra work, side hustle. Side Hustle Resources PDF Form

  • Immediate Options: I’m hearing that lots of grocery stores and other retailers are hiring right now. Here is a great and comprehensive resource list I found published by the National Retail Federation. 

The statement on NRF’s website:

Retail jobs from coronavirus demand

While many retailers have been forced to make cuts to their workforce due to temporary or permanent closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, other retail companies are hiring thousands of workers to meet increased consumer demand.


  • https://www.sidehustlenation.com/ - This is probably the best, most comprehensive podcast/website I've found that will not only introduce you to the idea of side hustles, but also diligently walk through how each “side hustler” started and grew their deal, often into a full-time hustle. Nick Loper is amazing! 
    Here is an article aimed specifically at getting the ideas going for side hustles: https://www.sidehustlenation.com/ideas/
  • https://sidehustleschool.com/ - Another favorite is Chris Gillebeau. He is the author of several books including “The Art of Non-Conformity” and “Side Hustle”. I've been following him for years and his content and podcast are great bite sized starters for budding side hustlers. I highly recommend “Side Hustle”.


16. If you still have a job, or are anticipating getting a new one. Ask for a raise and or overtime in your current job. 


17. Cancel your subscriptions.


18. Stop all auto pays.


19. Pause any and all unnecessary purchases. 


20. Increase your insurance deductibles.

Definitely do this for your car insurance. It lowers your monthly premium, but you MUST get the $1000 emergency fund in place so that if there is an accident, the new and higher deductible won’t have to go on one of the credit cards you just cut up. :)


21. Start trying to get one month ahead (at least) on all your expenses.  

22. Get Help/Community/Encouragement ASAP

This is the time to be as proactive as possible about the help you think you’re going to need. If you’re embarrassed to ask for help, I beg you to force yourself to get over it. Your family needs you to be resolute and in-action right now. So please, swallow your pride and embarrassment and communicate your situation to your family, neighbors, church, community. Whoever will listen and may be able to help.


And again, if you want a downloadable PDF version of this post, just click the link or on the image below: 22 Ways To Confidently Navigate A Financial Crisis.



Like I said earlier, go ahead and join Zero Debt Tribe, our private Facebook community. This community will be super helpful and encouraging to you as you work through your stuff.

Another great option for encouraging material is  our YouTube channel, so head on over there and subscribe.

If you have questions or feel stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out and put 30 minutes on my calendar for a Zoom video call



Care to share this on Pinterest?


What do you need help with the most right now?

My encouragement to you is to take action today. Look at implementing at least a handful of these this week and then work toward implementing all of them as time goes on.

So, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and hope this is all helpful to you. 


[email protected]


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