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In this episode, Chelsea walks us through 21 completely doable steps to take when you're in the middle of a crisis — from ways to protect your money, to government assistance programs to enroll in, to simple ways to take care of your mental health.

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How to file for unemployment:

SBA options for small businesses:

Government assistance programs:

Affordable therapy spreadsheet:

Lender hardship programs:

Prioritizing bill payments:

Preparing legal letters:

COVID support Subreddit:

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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by QuickBooks Online Payroll.

And today, whether you are someone who may have recently lost a job, or newly working from home, are separated from loved ones-- like myself-- have had to radically reorganize your budget, or have generally felt your life be upheaved in some way, I want to talk to you about the things that you can do immediately to help counteract some of that feeling of being out of control. And start taking charge of your life both financially and logistically. One of the things that we've been hearing so much in the past few weeks is a sense of panic and a sense of being out of control.

And ultimately, while some things are never going to be totally within our grasp, there are usually steps that we can take in any given situation that help bring the ball back into our court. So not all of these may apply to your situation, but at least, some of them would probably help give you an overall sense of peace and direction. Without further ado, because there are a lot of them to get to, here are 21 things to do immediately when life feels out of control.

Number one, cancel all unnecessary subscriptions. Anything that you're currently paying for on a recurring basis and are not getting an enormous amount of use out of or something that you could be sharing with another person to double up on that subscription, you should cut right away. It's an easy way to find a little bit of space in your budget, and to make sure that you're not paying for things that you don't absolutely need and use.

Number two, file for unemployment benefits if applicable to you. This is a situation that has been evolving over the past several weeks with so many people newly in unemployment. And the benefits do vary state to state.

But in many locations, you can actually apply online or on the phone, and at the very least, can speak to someone who can help walk you through what you're entitled to. There is zero shame in filing for unemployment benefits if you're eligible for them. And at the very least, you owe yourself a fact-finding mission.

Number three, see if you can qualify for any other government assistance programs. Even TFD as a small business has so many opportunities available to us of late that didn't even exist a month ago. And we've been making time with our accountant, as well as with just each other, to try and understand these options as best we can, weigh them against each other, and see what opportunities we can avail ourselves of today that we may never even have thought of before.

There could be so much out there for you that you're not even aware of. So at the very minimum, do your research, and find out what you could be entitled to. And remember, it doesn't just stop with money.

There are also tons of assistance programs for things like food, government housing, mortgage relief, et cetera. Number four, vent to a loved one. I think we all have someone, or at least, I hope we all have someone in our lives, who feels like a place where you can simply talk about what you're afraid of and really be listened to.

And sometimes what we want is for people to provide us with pragmatic solutions, while other times we really just want to be heard and told that sucks. But do remember that often when you're working yourself up into a total anxiety spiral panic, it's because you're living inside your own head and only listening to your own internal monologue. Simply looking at someone else's situation, hearing what they think about it, bouncing ideas off of them, or realizing that they might be in the same boat can walk you off a ledge emotionally.

But if a loved one may not be enough for the kind of emotional resources you need right now, look at finding an affordable therapist in your area. My dear friend Crissy Milazzo has put together an amazing spreadsheet that lists all different kinds of therapists in all different areas across the country who offer really affordable programs for people who may need therapy, but feel that the typical expense of it is just not possible for them. Now, more than ever, therapists are making themselves available on sliding scales because we need it to help each other.

And sometimes just venting to that loved one isn't enough. We'll link you guys to Crissy's amazing spreadsheet in the description where you can find all sorts of resources depending on your needs and where you are. Number six, do a full inventory of the food that you have in your kitchen, and see what leftovers or food items you have in your fridge that may be going bad soon and could easily be put in the freezer.

The last thing you need at a time when money might be a little tight or the future a little uncertain is to be wasting food. So having a total inventory of what you have in your house, which both means how long you can go before your next grocery shop, as well as how much room you need to leave in your budget for more food, is a great way to regain that sense of control over your schedule and some of your recurring purchases. So don't let something just linger in the back of your fridge.

If it needs to be frozen, freeze it now. And similarly, number seven is take inventory of the ingredients you have, and make a list of recipes that you could currently put together that are great for big batches and freezing. Things like soups, stews, pasta sauces.

All kinds of things that you could make with very versatile ingredients, depending on what you have on hand, can be made in one big pot and then portions and frozen. That's something that you should put at the top of your to-do list because it will ensure that no matter what else is going on you have a nice meal you can turn to in a pinch. I'll link you to some of my favorite big batch and freeze meals in the description, which are very interchangeable depending on the kinds of specific ingredients might have on hand.

I recently even made a stew the other day that was quite delicious, if I do say so myself. But made with really impromptu ingredients because I didn't have all the ones I typically would have bought for it at the store. Number eight, if you are in any kind of hardship with regards to your debt, call them and find out what relief resources they are offering either now or generally.

If you are ever in a situation where you are making payments to someone and you may not be in a position for at least the immediate future to continue your payments exactly as you've been making them, remember that their goal aligns with yours, to some extent. Which is just making sure they can keep getting something out of you, even if it's not exactly what they would have wanted. Which means that you often have an ability to negotiate.

Being able to adjust your payment plan or even possibly adjust the terms of your repayment is not just something that's more available now because of a lot of government assistance that's being provided, as well as policies that are being implemented. It's also something that generally exists on an ongoing basis with most debt structures. Remembering that you can call to negotiate with Lenders or collection agencies and at least attempt to be honest about your situation, rather than just ceasing payment and letting it go into default is a great way to take back some of your power.

Number nine is looking for a remote/temp work you can take on in a pinch so as to supplement your income, and not feel like you're totally beholden to what may be at this moment a total state of unemployment or a fairly limited fixed salary. We'll link you to our all-time famous 12 jobs you can do from bad video, all of which would make really good side hustles if you're currently staying home. Number 10 is make a list of the absolute essentials that you need at the store, and plan the best time at which to make that trip.

One thing that you do not need at a time when life feels generally out of control is the feeling that you're always missing something or might have to run out and grab something, particularly if it's a time when that's unsafe. Feeling like you have a total inventory of the need to have items-- things like basic cleaning products, light bulbs, basic ingredients, hygiene items, even a very basic tool kit that you might need in a pinch-- is going to ensure that no matter what happens in your house, you're going to be start with the right supplies to handle it. And not only does that give you the security of being start with the right inventory in your home, it also gives you the peace of mind that you can fully budget for those items.

Because it's much harder to budget when you're constantly having to run out for something here and something there. When life feels out of control, you want to have a really watchful eye over how you're spending on all of your various household items, and the best way to do that is all at once. Number 11, do a full inventory of your bills right now, and put them in the list of priority if you can't afford to pay them all.

Our editor, Kristen Wong, recently wrote a fantastic post on how to prioritize all of your bills in order if you're not able to make all of the payments. Some of them might be negotiable. Some of them may not penalize you for being late.

And some of them might be things that you could cut out altogether for a time. But making sure you have a full picture of all of the bills that you currently owe and can rank order them by ability to pay and absolute necessity to pay gives you a much greater sense of control and next steps when it comes to figuring out which ones need to be contacted. Otherwise, it's easy to just feel totally overwhelmed, and like you can't afford to live your life, and you might as well just throw it all to the wind and go live in the woods.

Number 12, do a full inventory of your medicine cabinet, both for preventative products and the right things to ultimately treat an illness you're likely to get. You want to make sure to have the basics. Things like emergency and thermometers and Band-Aids and Tylenol.

Perhaps things like sleep aids or medicine for PMS. Basically, knowing that you have a fully stocked medicine cabinet and can keep yourself as safe as possible while preparing for a moment that you might have to be at home and taking care of yourself for a while gives you such an increased peace of mind. And yes, eliminates the possible need to run to the store, again, unexpectedly.

One of the big ongoing debates in our home is that I believe that zinc combined with Emergen-C is one of the all-time best cold slash flu preventative measures you can take. And Mark thinks it's completely placebo effect. But listen, I usually get sick way less during flu season, so who's laughing now?

Number 13 is creating cogent, thoughtful, clear form letters with any attached legal rights needed for bills that you may not be able to pay. Things like your rent, your mortgage, loans, et cetera. If you are in a position where you are suddenly unable to pay these things and fear any kind of possible retaliation, it is so important that you know your rights and express yourself as clearly as possible.

It may be an uncomfortable thing to do, but it is so much better to face things head on than to try and avoid the problem and potentially, in worst case scenarios, be thrown on the street. The website Nolo has tons of great legal information and resources for all of the ongoing exceptions currently being made to obligations like rent and mortgages, as well as up-to-date breakdowns on what your rights may be in cases like this. Whether you qualify for forgiveness programs, or you're currently in an area with an eviction freeze, or any number of possible considerations that could impact this situation.

Keeping your head in the sand about something like this will not do you any favors, but arming yourself with your rights and speaking clearly and confidently is the only way to go to regain some of that control. Number 14, curate a list of news sources that provide you with accurate, actionable information, and tune out the rest. One of the easiest ways to put yourself into a spiral of anxiety and be overwhelmed with a sense of being out of control is constantly consuming a media diet of information that is often misleading, or overly catastrophic, or based on potentially misleading data, or generally not applicable to your life.

When it comes to really overwhelming, scary news information things like-- I don't know-- a pandemic, you should put yourself on a need-to-know basis. Is this going to change how I live my life? Is this something I need to know?

Is this something that is going to give me additional actionable information? If the answer to these things is no, you are probably best tuning it out. You should focus on following the best possible behaviors, listening to your officials, and trying to follow the data as accurately as possible without overwhelming yourself.

But a heavily curated media diet is one of the most essential components to regaining a sense of stability in a situation that can feel out of control. And endlessly scrolling and torturing yourself with terrifying headlines and sound bites is the opposite of doing something productive. Number 15 is to pause any automatic withdrawals from your accounts for things like savings if you cannot currently afford them.

The last thing you need is to know that you are accidentally going to put yourself into over-drafting or not being able to pay bills because you haven't taken the time to stop any automatic payments or withdrawals that you can no longer afford. It takes a few minutes, and you can easily resume them once you are back to earning your regular salary or are more flexible financially. But remember that as much as automation is your friend when you can afford it, it can be your worst enemy when you can't.

Number 16, if the market is in freefall, stop checking your 401(k) obsessively. It's not going to be fun. Why are you doing that to yourself?

Stop doing that. Number 17, look around you to see who in your life you could possibly combine subscriptions with for things like streaming services. Or if you have much better off people in your life-- like, let's say, your parents-- maybe you can mooch off of their subscription for a while.

Give yourself an opportunity to save, and to keep those little joys in your life without necessarily having to pay for them totally out of pocket. Number 18, if you're dealing with a lot of overwhelming anxiety, look for communities and forums and even places like sub-Reddits where people are getting together to talk about those anxieties in a productive and non-judgemental way. There's is a sub-Reddit entirely for dealing with coronavirus anxiety.

There are great online forums for people who are currently dealing with financial instability or economic fear. And there are tons of resources even your own community for people who are currently having a difficult time. Remember that often, just talking about what we fear most-- whether it's about a pandemic, or the economy, or even your own community on a day-to-day basis-- getting together with other people and being honest about how you feel can be one of the best ways to release those demons.

I won't lie, that coronavirus anxiety sub-Reddit has helped me many a time. Number 19, if you are homebound in this time, make as many virtual appointments as you can with people you love. Even in times when we are isolated, we still profoundly need human contact.

And it can be difficult to just call people out of the blue. So making sure to structure that time with people around you. And give it the same kind of space in your life that you would give to work or-- if we're being totally honest-- panic scrolling social media, can be a great way to relieve some of that aloneness and add structure to your day.

Number 20, start taking things like free online classes that can help not only enrich your life, but give you something else to focus on for a while. When things are out of control and maybe-- for example-- you might have lost a job recently and are suddenly faced with a lot of extra time, every minute that you spend just focusing on how bad things are and turning in circles is a moment that you're going to feel worse about the situation. When ultimately, even in times when we might be isolated at home, or currently unemployed, or separated from loved ones, there can be opportunities in that.

And one of them could be learning a really good new skill or at least, taking the time to enrich yourself in another way that would often just fall to the bottom of your list. Several of us here at TFD are taking different online classes in this time, just because, quite frankly, it provides a really nice, welcome distraction. And reminds you that not everything needs to be defined by the job that you have, the amount of time you're going out and doing amazing social activities, or the money that you have in your bank account.

This is holding myself accountable to freaking finally learn Spanish during this time. Lastly, number 21 is double-sided. If you sense that you might need some immediate financial help beyond what might be offered to you structurally, make a list of people in your life whom you would feel comfortable going to asking for that help.

Whether it's financial or in terms of a place to stay, or maybe help with food, or even help, perhaps, finding another job. Try and find the people that you can reach out to in a way that feels warm and welcoming and nonjudgmental. Because, at the very least, if you have in your head the people who could be places to turn to, you won't feel so panicked and alone when you find yourself in a tough situation.

But alternatively, and maybe more importantly, if you are someone who is in a position to help, if you can help people financially in terms of a place to stay, with food, with job searching, whatever it may be, if you are in a more privileged position and could be of help to people in your life that you sense may eventually need it, find a way to let it be known to people that you are a safe place to turn and willing to help. And you don't have to be so egregious as to be like, hey, if you need some money, here's some money. You can say something as simple as I just want to let you know that I really care about you, and if you ever need anything at all, do not hesitate to ask.

Because I would so love to help. Anything I can do. There's ways to wink and nod and make it clear to people that you're really there for whatever.

And honestly, if you feel that someone in your life is genuinely struggling, one of the easy things to do is send them a gift card for something like food. It's not quite as obvious as sending them money if you sense that might be something that they need, and can feel a little bit more acceptable slash less like something they have to immediately pay back. But it's also a good way to show that you're there, and that you care.

And also, remember no matter what, if you are helping someone out financially, one of the best pieces of advice is to always treat it as a gift. Do not expect to be paid back, even if they eventually may be able to pay you back. Because having that expectation of it being a loan between friends or family is what can automatically create a really toxic and resentful dynamic.

The more you can open yourself up as a resource and a place for people to be safe and get help, the better things will be. And if you are like me and you're a small business owner and you're constantly looking, especially in times like this, for ways to make your life easier and less complicated, one of the best things you can do is streamline payroll. And as someone who has used QuickBooks personally for years with her small business, I could not recommend their online payroll system more to do that.

QuickBooks Online Payroll offers a full suite of employee management solutions. It's backed by experts to provide employers confidence that payroll is done right. QuickBooks Payroll is expanding from a payroll-only offering to a true end-to-end solution for worker management, providing small and mid-market businesses all the tools they need to compete with larger companies in hiring and running their business.

From workers compensation, health care benefits, to live HR help, and more. You can learn more about QuickBooks Online Payroll at the link in our description. And as always, guys, thank you so much for watching.

And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Stay safe. Take care.

I love you, guys. Bye.