We’ve put these resources together to help you increase your financial resilience and will be updating them as we can with new information.

We are here to help you with individual attention when you register for our Financial Skill Building class or email us a question [email protected] for the quickest response to your financial question!

Woman complete financial skill building exercise


If you’re worried you can’t pay your bills or are currently unable to pay bills, here are some tips to help boost your financial resilience.

Action Step 1: Take an inventory of what you own and what you owe using our Personal Financial Inventory. This will help you know what assets you have to keep you afloat and how best to strategize dealing with your debt.

Action Step 2: Look at what life costs your household per month. Print out last month’s transactions from your checking account and or credit cards. Track what you actually spent each month on things like groceries, fun money, heat, etc. This helps you be realistic about your costs and get creative about where you can cut.

Action Step 3: Use the Baseline Budget to prioritize Needs over Wants.

  1. Add up the total amount you need to cover your bases:
  2. Monthly Needs (household bills, gas, groceries)
  3. Annual Needs (car registration & any bill you pay once or twice a year, quarterly, any time interval this is not every month)

Minimum Debt payments

The total of these three numbers is what we call your Baseline Expenses – the minimum amount of money you need to not be late on essential bills.

Action Step 4: If your upcoming income is not likely cover your Baseline Expenses then use the Idea Bank to craft a break-even budget.


Renter Hardship Worksheet will help you determine what kind of hardship you have, how it’s impacting your ability to pay rent and how you can communicate with your landlord to create a proactive plan.


  • 0% credit card transfer
  • Talk to your banker about what options available to you to pay off high-interest debt.
  • EX: Secured Loan, Home Equity Loan, HELOC
  • Debt Card Opt-in – Stop bank fees
  • Ask your debtors for extension of payment
  • Request a payment plan if you can’t pay your current bill
  • Redo payment plan if you can’t pay existing payment plans
  • Lower monthly payments over longer period of time
  • Negotiate debt by offering a lump sum pay off
  • Apply for forgiveness or hardship

A great book to give you more information on the ideas above is Solve Your Money Troubles: Strategies to Get Out of Debt and Stay That Way by NOLO.


  • Sell something – Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or consignment stores are all good local options. Look around to see if there are any household items you don’t use anymore.
  • Return recent purchases – Consider those needs versus wants, and if you made any recent purchases that you don’t need consider returning.
  • Cut living expenses – Track spending and cut down
  • Think about getting a trusted roommate if possible
  • There are no income requirements to use the Missoula Food Bank
  • Ask for an employer advance – You don’t know what is possible till you ask! Apply for a credit card – Having a credit card for emergencies is better than an unacceptable high-interest pay day loan (can be up to 600% APR). See if you qualify for a credit card if you don’t already have one. Explore options with no or low fees and keep your balance below 30% so you don’t negatively impact your credit. Shop Credit Cards by category.
  • Look for a second job – Especially right now, some folks are dealing with job suspension due to restaurant and bar closures. Check out your local grocery stores as many of them are dealing with a huge influx of customers and need support. Also, contact your local temp agency to see if anyone is hiring.
  • File your tax return. Montana property tax assistance helps homeowners on a fixed or limited income by reducing the property tax rate on their home.
  • Modify wage withholding with your employer – Ask your payroll department what route is best to do this
  • Apply for unemployment insurance if your hours are cut by even 3 hours a week – Use the online portal to start a claim. You MUST report every week and if you don’t you might have to wait another “waiting period” week.
  • Ask for a family loan or gift
  • Take loan out on 401K Retirement, ROTH Basis Distribution


These resources can help you pay for essentials like utilities, your home, food and childcare, which will improve your financial resilience.

Montana 211 – Complete directory of services in Montana

Housing Vouchers


Financial Education Program Manager at University of Montana’s Office for Student Success

  • If you are having trouble making payments on your student loans, you can ask for an administrative forbearance from your loan servicer. All federal student loans will have 0% interest for six months, so your loans will not gain interest during the forbearance.
  • Income-driven payment plans are still available for those whose incomes have decreased but who want to keep paying something each month. To apply for an IDR visit
  • Borrowers working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness who wish to take the administrative forbearance should talk to their loan servicer and request that their months in forbearance still count toward their 10 years of employment (according to the CARES Act).

UM provides free student loan counseling for UM students and alumni through the UM Office for Student Success.

Visit the Federal Student Aid webpage for COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Federal Student Aid for specific COVID-19 information about student loans.