What is Financial Hardship? Guide + Resources

JOHN H. | April 24, 2024

Adulting is not as easy as we think it might be. And when it comes to budgeting and managing our finances, we’re often overwhelmed by how much work it actually is. That said, for some, no matter how hard you work to keep your finances in order and prepare for a rainy day, things happen that can throw our financial stability for a loop. 

So, just what is financial hardship? It is typically related to a significant change in your circumstances, such as the loss of a job, the need to pay for a medical emergency, a natural disaster that has destroyed all or part of your home, and more. These challenges not only wreak havoc on your financial situation, but they can also have a nasty impact on your mental and physical health. 

Thankfully, there are programs designed to help people facing financial hardship. These programs exist both locally and on a federal level. Getting help is the first step in navigating a financial hardship.

A couple working through financial hardship together

How is Financial Hardship Determined?

As we suggested above, many things can contribute to financial hardship. However, not all of these things may qualify as a hardship for which you can receive program support. If you have been experiencing tough times and need help, here is what you need to know about determining financial hardship.

Financial hardship isn't a one-size-fits-all term. It means different things depending on where and what you're going through. Generally, it refers to a tough spot where covering basic needs like paying loans, affording housing, buying food, or meeting other essential living expenses becomes a struggle. Different programs have their own ways of determining whether someone is facing financial hardship, often using specific calculations and legal formulas.

For anyone thinking they're facing financial hardship, plenty of federal resources can guide you to the help you need. This includes assistance with food through programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), support if you're out of work via unemployment benefits, and emergency housing assistance. There are also ways to get help with paying utility bills, managing rent payments, and accessing welfare benefits. If your home has been damaged, government programs may help with repairs. Understanding and accessing these resources can be your first step toward financial recovery.

What Types of Financial Hardship Programs Exist?

As we suggested above, there are several types of hardship programs out there. But when you’re in the thick of financial worry, you might not know where to look. Here is what you need to know.

Food Assistance Programs

Food assistance programs provide crucial support by offering vouchers or benefits to purchase groceries and food items. These programs, like SNAP, aim to ensure that no one has to go without basic nutritional needs due to financial struggles.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are designed to help those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They provide temporary financial assistance to help job seekers cover daily expenses as they search for new employment.

To apply for unemployment benefits, use your search engine to find the benefits for your state. For example, if you are unemployed in Wisconsin, you will want to visit the Department of Workforce Development website to learn the steps you need to take to qualify.

Welfare Benefits

Welfare benefits cover a broad financial aid spectrum, including health care, food vouchers, and child assistance. These benefits are meant to support individuals and families who find themselves in long-term financial distress.

Emergency Housing Assistance

This program offers immediate support to individuals and families who suddenly find themselves without a home due to financial issues or disasters, helping them secure temporary housing. This may mean helping you to find a shelter if you are facing homelessness. It may also mean temporarily assisting you in paying your rent.

Rental Assistance

Rental assistance programs help individuals struggling to pay rent, preventing eviction and homelessness. These programs may provide direct financial assistance or subsidies to keep families in their homes.

Utility Bill Help

Utility bill assistance programs help cover the cost of electricity, water, and heating for those who cannot afford these essential services, ensuring that families do not have to live without basic utilities.

Government Home Repair Assistance

These programs provide financial aid for homeowners who need to repair or rehabilitate their homes but cannot afford to do so. This assistance is super important in ensuring homes remain safe and livable.

Free-Market Financial Options

Besides these programs, there are free-market options for those needing emergency financial relief, such as short-term loans for financial hardship. The term "free-market" refers to financial services offered by private businesses outside of government aid. 

Cash Store can be a resource for those exploring loans for financial hardship, providing a way to manage immediate financial needs through short-term loans.

A family celebrating getting relief from financial hardship

Cash Store Offers Loans for Financial Hardship

We understand how challenging it can be to cope with financial worries. If you are having trouble making ends meet, start by revisiting your family budget to ensure that you are adequately allocating funds across your needs, wants, and savings. If you find yourself spending too much against your wants, the chances are that you’ll need to make some changes.

That said, sometimes receiving a short-term infusion of cash can help bridge the gap as you work through your budget and wait on the status of financial assistance applications. Get started today by filling out our pre-qualification application. See how Cash Store can be that temporary lifeline you need.

The content on this page provides general consumer information or tips. It is not financial advice or guidance. Each person’s circumstances are unique. The Cash Store may update this information periodically. This information may also include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs. 

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