Think you’re safe as houses? You may be. Then again, you may not. Even the most prepared people can’t plan for everything that may happen in the future. While randomness can be exciting and wonderful, certain unexpected financial events can knock you to the ground. In fact, some bills and experiences that seem to come from nowhere can cause so much turmoil that homelessness can be the result.
Here are the most egregious unplanned expenses and events that can cause you to go from homed to un-homed. By knowing what they are now, you may be able to offset their ruinous potentiality.
1. Natural disasters. When Mother Nature is in a particularly rotten (or dramatic) mood, she can upend the environment. Earthquake, tornados, hurricanes, floods, and the like can take a tragic toll on your home, workplace, and health. Afterward you may not have the means to pay for repairs. The situation worsens if you won’t be able to get to work and earn as normal.
To deal with the financial damage that comes with natural disasters, understand what can happen in your area, save as much money as possible, and review and update insurance coverage. Mentally, go through all the “what ifs…” Remember old adage: hope for the best, prepare for the worst and you’ll be prepared for anything.
2. Aging real estate. Interestingly, the extreme cost of keeping a home of your own in good working condition can result in not being able to afford it at all. If the property desperately need a new roof and you don’t have many thousands of dollars at the ready to replace it, what are you going to do? You can’t stay in if the rain and snow is also coming in.
There are almost endless expensive repairs that can be far more than what you have tucked away, so take a look around and start to mitigate problems. Early intervention is best. Let’s face it, it’s far cheaper to replace a broken water heater than the extensive damage a blown one can create.
3. Substance abuse. Very few people think they’re going to get caught up in the cycle of substance abuse and yet millions of Americans are suffering from it. The terrible costs associated with addiction are multifold. The substance itself can be wildly expensive, so you may stop paying for real needs – such as rent or mortgage. You may lose your job because you can’t perform, so resort to crimes which can then turn into stints in jail – and then the street.
There are a myriad of reasons to not start something as destructive as a highly addictive drug (or engage in drinking when you may be predisposed to alcoholism). Not becoming homeless is one of them.
4. Extended hospital stays. Studies show that about half of all bankruptcies are a direct result of healthcare expenses. Some may be from combined trips to the doctor, but more often long-term chronic illnesses wreck a person’s finances to such a degree that they lose everything, including their homes. The hospital bills alone can eat into funds you have set aside, and of course not being able to work will hurt.
Although it is impossible to predict something like an accident, you can make a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Take care of yourself, starting today.
5. Divorce. Unlike the tremendous settlements and spousal support that many celebrities score after a split, the average person who divorces suffers financially. It’s a matter of basic mathematics. Whereas you once you shared the costs of living as a couple, now you’re each paying for your own. Suddenly your expenses double, and if you can’t afford them, you could be in major trouble. Add to that the legal fees that divorcing can hit you with and your savings account can be quickly depleted. Whether you’re paying for spousal or child support or trying to live on a reduced income, you might not be able to afford your own home — or even a part of someone else’s.
It may not be easy to keep divorce expenses low, but you can choose to not fight so much in court, as it can destroy your safety net. Try to keep your composure and a sense of rationality.
6. Mental illness. Just as with the substance abuse issue, some psychiatric disorders can be so debilitating that you can’t take care of yourself. That could include necessary expenditures, such as dealing with your landlord or mortgage lender. Getting treated is costly, too, though. For example, many private facilities begin at $10,000 a month and easily go up to $30,000. Insurance rarely covers it, so you’ll be stuck with this cost — if you can afford it at all. Even if you’re in a good place emotionally, there may be people in your life who you love and care for who are mentally ill. They can be a drain on your finances. What’s more important – their critical needs or your home? Some people are forced to make an incredibly difficult decision, like moving from their home with no fallback, to pay for it all.
What can you do to avoid mental illness? Sometimes not much. But do be keenly aware of the signs and seek help that is covered by insurance or government assistance as soon as signs emerge.
7. DUI. Outside of the very real possibility that you can kill or seriously hurt yourself or somebody else when you drive under the influence, if you get caught, the costs can be outrageous. Arrest plus conviction can run anywhere between $13,000 and $27,000. Under most circumstances you can’t discharge this type of debt in bankruptcy, so you’re stuck with it. However, that’s not the end of your problems. Since this crime ends up on your criminal record (and the debt is listed on your credit report), it can impact your ability to secure a job and support yourself. The combination of financial troubles associated with a DUI can be an inability meet necessary household costs.
The antidote to this is simple: never drink and drive. If you want to be absolutely certain that you are okay to be behind the wheel, invest in a breathalyzer. For less than $100 you will always know that you’re making the right decision.
8. Sudden unemployment. How secure is your job, really? If you were to lose it without warning it Is vitally important to consider how you would replace that income. If you could pair down your expenses to the bare minimum you might not have enough leftover to pay your rent mortgage with what you have in savings. At least not for very long. Don’t count on the unemployment benefits to see you through the hard times. Yes you’ll get some money, but chances are not nearly enough for what you’ve require.
My best advice here is to never, ever, think you are immune from unemployment. Be prepared for anything. Brush up on your skills or create new ones. Update your resume. Network. Doing so can prevent you from having too long of a period of time we’re no or inadequate money is coming in. You’ll be able to bounce back with a new job – and remain in your home, safe and sound.
These are just a few of the expenses and events that can turn your life from comfortable to horrible. Think about each, and consider which are most likely. It won’t hurt to conduct a little extra prevention, will it?