Your Family & Friends – A Michigan Survival Guide Installment

In some of the toughest times the very people we need the most are sometimes the only available targets of our angst.  Often we lash out against those closest to us not because they caused any of our pain, but because they are “conveniently near.”  Michiganders might see this phenomenon more in the next few years, as more folks see their wages cut in half or very nearly eliminated.  The easiest APPARENT solution is often to seek government assistance, yet while as a stop gap measure it will help, it often will result in the lengthening of your discomfort.

One of the arguments you will often see made here, is that government is no substitute for family. It serves no nurturing, guiding, or building effect whatsoever, and usually destroys the very natural accountability factor which makes family ever so important in these trying times.  If you can get it for free from Uncle Sam or Aunt Jenny, why would you face the scorn or disapproval of parents or responsible siblings.  The very fact there is limited accountability in government assistance enables those who have made poor decisions to continue making them.  Life will seldom improve for those persons until they can see WHY they are having difficulty.  Sometimes however, there is little real fault of the hurting individual, yet family is even MORE important still.

Here are some suggestions for family members of, and those who are facing employment financial troubles and wage downturns..

Firstly..  Family

Stay in Communication – Often pride gets in the way of asking for help, and then when it might be too late, the bombshell is dropped.  Family members should be proactive if they think there is ANY possibility that crisis is on the horizon.  Often interest free borrowing (if possible) can eliminate late charges and service fees which lessen the survival odds of a financial crisis.  Staying in touch also reaffirms the bonds you share.  Its kind of a good thing right?

Stay Constructive – Family members should offer suggestions on how they might better there situations when things get tight, but should also resist the urge to criticize in any general manner.  Helping to find the reasons things are “not-so-good” will be a more productive practice.  Identifying where things go bad is sometimes easier when it is a “third party” family member who knows the personalities involved intimately.  Unnecessary criticisms often result in reduced communications and lessen the chances of survival.

Identify Talents – Most all of us are good at SOMETHING.  Family members of the financially troubled can catalog the skills of their kin to help them transit more easily into their next career position or as a bridge.  Knowing what skills are available allows you to promote them to friends, businesses you are familiar with. or even “piece work” as possible jobs become available in your neighborhood.  Often, only Family and friends know the skills their brethren possess.

Your Turn…

Don’t Wait – Planning is ALWAYS important.  We are all familiar with who the real survivors are from the depression.  They were the ones who saw the writing on the wall, put the head down and persisted despite the plight.  Plan for a downturn in your income.  But even when you don’t see it coming, you can reduce the stress by being realistic about your situation.  No one loves you like your family.  If you need to find short term financial solutions, be realistic about the ability of your family to help you, and then don’t be afraid to ask for help…  Early.  “Pride goeth before the fall”  Be gracious and accept help if offered. Often making the difference between financial survival or not, is the ability to avoid late payment charges and service fees.

Odd Jobs – Often your family members are paying someone to perform maintenance around their houses, or businesses.  Offer your services and skills if you have any, and even if you do not.  If you are laid off and not actively pounding the street in search of your next paycheck, you will have the time to help them.  Even though you might not be as efficient as some professionals, most household repairs can be done if some thought is applied.  Aside from making a few dollars to fight off the late fees etc.., there is a sense of satisfaction when you walk away from a project done with your hands.  I’ve been there, and it helps to heal.

Remember Who Is First – You might have done what you could and find that bankruptcy is the only solution.  Give the consideration to family first.  Be realistic in your financial assessments and attempt to make sure your family comes first when looking at asset liquidation.  They are the ones who might be able to help you get back on your feet at a later date, and if you owe them and can pay ANYTHING before judgment make it a priority.  The stronger they are, the better off you all are.

There are many ways which family can bring about overall financial stability that far exceeds the ability of government.  Keeping close ties, and understanding the limitations of the assistance available makes the chances of your success increase greatly.  Your family, and your friends do not want you to fail, yet they know you sometimes better than you know yourself, and often the resultant help has better effect as a result.