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Financial Crisis Survival Guide (Version: COVID19)

Okay, so we’ve arrived at a very odd and disconcerting time in our history, namely a global pandemic that seems to have (at least temporarily) shut down the entire world economy (or at least major parts of it).

Though, still in its infancy as I write this in late March, 2020, I believe, this crisis has already caused a financial cataclysm in the lives of millions of people. If you’re reading this, then you’re likely affected and possibly severely so.

I want this brief and actionable guide to be a “light in the dark” for you. A crisis necessarily involves the heightened emotions of fear and panic. Rather than succumbing to those emotions, I want to help you to move through them as quickly as possible so that you can set your finances up, not only for immediate survival, but more importantly for great success as this particular crisis hopefully soon rides off into our collective sunset. 

By the way, if you want a downloadable PDF version of this post, just click the link or on the image below: Financial Crisis Survival Guide (Version: COVID19)



How To Respond To A Financial (Or Any) Crisis


All that said, here’s the quick and actionable list intended to help you analyze and organize your current situation. Read the rest of the content for more granularity and for more of my perspective on the outlook.

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.


The 3 Pillars Of Financial Survival


These are likely going to seem ridiculously simple and even nonsensical, but stick with me as we unpack each of them and you’ll have a solid template to navigate this and indeed any crisis that comes your way.

  1. Preserve Capital (Money)
  2. Aggressively Obtain Capital (Money)
  3. Get Help/Encouragement/Community ASAP!


So, let’s take some time and unpack each one of these one by one. By the way, all of the forms and resources listed in this document can be found in my “Free Products & Forms Library” along with TONS of other amazing and free instructional material.


Watch Our "Financial Crisis Survival" YouTube Series:



1a. Preserve Capital (Money) - Economic Defense

If you’re  in the debt-elimination process, you might have to “press pause” on paying off debt for now and instead focus on building your emergency fund (I’d go for trying to save as much as you can, even 6 months to a year’s worth). I’m advising students to fatten that thing up as much as possible. We don’t know what’s going to happen here, so were going full-bore on the emergency fund right now.

From a crisis perspective, if you’re facing a reduction in hours or a job loss for example, it’s to press pause on your debt-elimination efforts and just focus on “The 4 Walls” (detailed list below)..  

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:  


The 4 Walls In Detail

"The 4 Walls" PDF (Download)

  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 a more in depth treatment of this strategy, check out the full blog post: What To Do When You Can’t Pay Your Bills.

Again, if you want a downloadable PDF version of this post, just click the link or on the image below: Financial Crisis Survival Guide (Version: COVID19)



1b. Do These (Defensive) Steps Next

1. (Temporarily) Stop all retirement contributions if you haven’t already and make a list of every bill, expense and debt using this "Everything I Owe" PDF Worksheet.

2. Again, “press pause” on debt-elimination for now. We’ll come back to that at a later time.

3. 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.). 

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

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



Also consider the following to help defend your resources, consider these steps:

  • Pause any and all “unnecessary” purchases.
  • Cancel subscriptions.
  • Go “scorched earth” on your budget (again, cut, reduce, substitute).
  • Stop all auto pays (at least temporarily).
  • 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.


6. 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.


2. Aggressively Obtain Capital (Money) - Economic Offense

Again, the idea here is to build your emergency fund as high as possible as fast as possible. I’m currently recommending that our students press pause on aggressive debt-elimination and save 6mo-1yr of expenses (if possible) instead. 

So, that’s going to happen mostly through aggressive seeking any (legal) work you can get. Here are some options for consideration:

These are some resources I've used over the years and have recommended to students to help them eliminate their debt and move on to Financial Independence.

Side Hustle Resources PDF Form


  1. 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."

  1. 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/

  1. https://sidehustleschool.com/ - Another favorite is Chris Guillebeau. 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”.


Additional Economic Crisis Survival Tips

  • Stockpile Your Pantry - 1-3 months of meals, staples
  • Gravity Fed Water Filtration - Berkey - We've had one of these for over 5 years and couldn't live without it. There's such peace of mind in all the things this system filters out. Plus the water tastes great!
  • Water Storage Storage Containers - Apart from global economic meltdowns, these can also come in hand for when natural disasters strike and the water gets cut off for a bit.


3. 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.

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


Addressing Fear & Panic

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” - Philippians 4:6 English Standard Version (ESV)


In light of what I’ve written above, the next part of the conversation about fear may seem somewhat paradoxical, so hang with me for a second while I explain. As a Christian, I have turned from my sin and placed my faith in Christ, which guarantees my eternal salvation. As such, I literally have nothing to be afraid of. Yet, as I’m still cloaked in my flesh, I’m going to experience these emotions. But with my faith in Christ, I can process through these fears and anxieties more rapidly than when I didn’t believe. 

Now, let me explain some practical ways to do that as well.

If you’re anything like I am, you’re a little “over” being told to not be "scared” or not to "panic”. I get the intention of the people saying these things, I just don’t think it properly allows for the normal range of human emotions that are completely natural and healthy.

For so many in our economy, this emerging crisis could spell some dire times and I don’t think it’s right to tell people to “just calm down” or “just wash your hands”. We know that 78% of the population lives paycheck to paycheck, so it would naturally, logically follow that this emerging disruption would cause some anxiety. 

It’s normal and it’s okay to experience those emotions. The real question is, “what do we do with them?”. I’m going to attempt to answer that for you today.

In fact, here’s Christ Martenson’s (of peakprosperity.com) variation on the Kübler-Ross “stages of grief”.

6 Stages Of Awareness

  1. Denial - 
  2. Anger - 
  3. Bargaining - 
  4. Fear & Anxiety - 
  5. Depression - 
  6. Acceptance -  


So many times, if we have had the benefit of some sort of “foreknowledge”, we take it for granted that we’ve been able to experience and metabolize, at least to a small degree, panic and fear before the situation arrives. THAT fact means that we MUST be compassionate and leader-like with folks that are in the early stages of adjustment.

If anyone is trying to make you feel like you’re “overreacting "for experiencing these emotions, it’s likely because they’re just parroting what they’re hearing in the world and are either ignoring or suppressing their own experience of those emotions (as if that would be helpful to anyone). Or, they’re just being impatient and kind of punk-like and that’s just not cool.

Fear and panic are part of the adjustment process when there’s a new threat introduced to your environment. It’s not a matter of avoiding, ignoring or suppressing them rather, it’s a matter of  recognizing them and properly managing them. 

The adjustment process (which often includes a little bit of panic and fear) is completely normal and expected. The way you manage those emotions is what determines your level of functioning or “adulting” in an emergency situation. And proper preparation for emergency situations helps you to move through the emotions of fear and panic more rapidly so that you can be as useful as possible as quickly as possible to yourself, your family and your community.

The fact is, if you’re not a little fearful and a little panicked, you might need to check your pulse. :) Again it’s normal, you just have to manage it with accurate data and reasonable action.

All that said, here’s how you can “save yourself some pain” and live forever. :)



How Can I Help You More?

I hope you find this resource helpful and that it serves you well. If you have questions, comments or smart (respectful) remarks, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at: [email protected] . It’s my honor to serve you during these confusing times!

To your freedom,



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