The Best Way to Approach a Financial Emergency

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financial emergency

Last week, I wrote about my experience talking with a Target cashier who was well into his retirement years. He had some money problems and never could really get ahead. To most people, his story was heartbreaking, yet still very motivational.

This Target cashier showed me I needed to make sure to be as prepared as possible for any financial emergency. He also showed me something entirely different. He showed me the best way to approach a financial emergency.

It’s Not About How Much Money You Have


Financial emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. They can come quickly and with the force of a hurricane. Others are smaller and can leak out over time like a water hose. There is a general consensus about how we should handle financial emergencies and most point toward emergency funds. I have an emergency fund. I wouldn’t leave home without it. The whole point of wading the waters of a financial emergency is to not go into massive debt. There is a reason why so many people are under water. They hit a snag in life and they have no savings.

I always thought the best way to handle financial emergencies was to live below my means, have investments, make more money, and save until I can dive into a pool full of coins! Well, these are good, but they are not the best way to approach a financial emergency. Your attitude truly makes the difference when it comes to handling a financial emergency.

Your Attitude is What Matters


If you didn’t read my Target post (shame on you!), then the best takeaway I got was how positive and lighthearted the man was. He was well into his retirement and had to work to survive. Did his circumstance make him into a mean old man? No, he was extremely polite, spoke well, enjoyed talking with other people, and did his job well. I don’t even see teenagers work with that type of ethic. Seriously, this man was a model employee.

From all of the things going on in his life, including medical and financial issues, he still was in great spirits and had a fantastic attitude. He was earning money and doing the best he could at the time. This is really how you approach a financial emergency or any one for that matter. It’s all about your attitude.

People who have great attitudes about negative situations tend to be the ones who get through their problems in one piece. They don’t lose their minds and complain about every problem in their lives. They step up, work through it, and move on. That is what I’m talking about!

Remember, we can be extremely prepared for any emergency. The thing about an emergency is you never really know when they will hit and some like to come in bunches. You could be prepared for one, but what about two or three? I know that would probably derail my preparations and cause me to struggle to get back on track.

When I was in a lot of debt and working my way out, it wasn’t my ability to earn more money or stay motivated that got me to my goal. Nope.  It was my ability to stay positive during the entire four years. I struggled many days trying not to pull out my credit card and buy this little trinket. I battled my spending addictions everyday. I could have broken down and complained, but where would’ve that put me? I would be known as the guy deep in debt who always complained about it. I’m glad I didn’t go that route.

No one would want to listen to someone who just complained and didn’t pay off debt. Where would that attitude get me? I wouldn’t have a blog and I wouldn’t have been on radio programs. None of what I have now would be possible if I didn’t keep a positive attitude. That is how we get through the thick of it. That is how we succeed. Staying positive can be easier said than done, but take it from my friendly Target cashier. The sh*t can hit the fan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive attitude while cleaning it up.


How do you maintain a positive attitude in the face of a financial emergency? What’s the most important thing to do or remember in financial emergencies, in your opinion?


Photo courtesy of: Brett Jordan

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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  • Kim says:

    Whiners and complainers are probably my least favorite class of people. We all have problems and challenges, but whining has never made one single problem of mine go away. I often say that if people would spend half the time trying to figure out solutions instead of complaining, there would be lots less problems in the world.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I feel like this post was written for me. I have felt a little “beaten down” by our debt recently, as well as the amount of hustling I do to try to pay it down while also building an emergency fund, retirement fund, etc. I NEED to change my attitude and look on the bright side of things. I have a blog that brings in money. How many people would kill for that? Even if I didn’t have the blog, I have many things to be thankful for and should focus on those versus a balance sheet.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I remember feeling beaten down by my debt and just feeling sorry for myself. I eventually would pick my feelings off the floor and make some changes. You can get it done DC! You have a lot of good things going your way!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    ha ha good timing. I just have another work project fall through in an already very dry streak, so my attitude is everything. For me the best thing I can do is take some time to mourn. Don’t try to suppress feeling bad when you are. For me, knowing my energy is not my best, I usually just try to cut the noise and as many obligations as I can to regroup and just be calm and breathe. Usually after some time I get some clarity and answers and rebuild my strength to go forward. I think often times we try to power through our emotions, but hey paying off debt, losing a job, having a big financial emergency is tough and it’s OK to feel hurt and down.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Sorry to hear about another project falling through Tonya. I know how it can be when things are going your way, but it will turn around.

  • Erin @ Journey to Saving says:

    Attitude really is everything when it comes to approaching your financial situation (and life in general). I also like what Tonya said – let your emotions be for a little, then pick up and move on. I do tend to get a little stressed out when financial emergencies occur, but I am always grateful I have the funds to cover whatever happens. Things could be much worse.

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