Financial Triage: Do you need it?

Brent Pittman —  06/17/2014

Lego Doctors

Injuries occur through either natural disasters or man made situations. When those injuries happen, medical attention is needed and needed quickly.

Triage is a technique to give care quickly–Do the most good for the most patients. Sometimes in our financial lives triage needs to be performed. We need to act and act quickly to preserve life.

Financial Triage Basics

Financial injury prevention is best, but if injury occurs the goal is to reduce the impact of the injury and preserve life.

1. Determine the severity of injury- Asking a series of questions and observations to determine how bad is it?

Are you behind on your bills? facing foreclosure? Thinking of bankruptcy? Spouse threatening divorce due to money matters?

2. Initiate management- quick fixes, tag, prioritize, and basic treatment.

Apply a quick bandage if you are financially ‘walking wounded’ or you might need immediate treatment.

3. Perform field triage- This involves sending to the appropriate treatment center (trauma center, closest hospital, or hospital further away).

Depending on the level of your financial wound determines what kind of help you’ll need. You may need  financial coaching, bankruptcy advice, tax advice, or another financial profesional that can help with treatment.

S.T.A.R.T Financial Triage

As a first responder gets on the scene they’ll go through their triage checklist and begin assessing those injured on the scene.

Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) is a method they might use. Let’s adopt this method and ‘field triage’ to a financial crisis.

Remember if you’re hurting, there is hope–your situation CAN improve.

1. Start where you are- No need to go back to the beginning of how your family didn’t teach you about money. Start where you are and begin to move forward.

2. Stop the bleeding- In order to get out of your financial crisis, you’ll have to stop bleeding money. Stop borrowing money and going further in debt.

3. Clear the Airways- Breathing is essential to life. Your financial airways need clearing to make income greater than outflow.
  • Sell unneeded items for quick cash and to establish an emergency fund.
  • Get a 2nd job for a short amount of time until you make ends meet.
  • Start the short sale process if your home is in foreclosure and no way to make up payments.
  • Do what it (legally) takes to get out of crisis mode so you can breath.
4. Prioritize- Keep the important at the top of the list. Faith, Family, and Friends.You’ll also want to keep the 4 Walls before paying any debt:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Utilities
  • Basic Transportation

5. Seek Treatment- This is where longer term solutions are found.

  • Minor wounds could be fixed with a good financial book or a financial support group like Financial Peace University.
  • More serious financial wounds might need a financial coach who can refer you to other trusted financial professionals.

If you are in financial crisis, it is scary and hard to know what steps to take. Seek help from friends, clergy, or financial professionals.

Ignoring financial problems can lead to more serious injury. A small scratch can become infected and need surgery. Seek help. Contact me and I will help or find someone who can.

Are you or have you been in a financial crisis? What did you do immediately that helped? 

Photo Credit atomiclizard (Creative Commons)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • http://mymoneycounselor.com/ Kurt Fischer

    Very clever and effective technique to think about finances. Thanks Brent!

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      Kurt, hey you’re becoming a regular here. Hope you’ll stick around.

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    I just might have to ‘borrow’ that line.

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    I try to take the creative route when i can…if money articles are boring the average joe won’t read it.

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure!

  • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

    I’ll admit – the Legos were the first thing to catch my eye. But reading the post, I can agree with the advice. It is important to stop and react to the situation. Too often people whine about their upbringing or play the victim. In the triage style approach, I like the comparison of stopping the bleeding and moving forward with the healing.

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      I feel that sometimes triage is all I can do with some clients. Any time you can add legos it’s a good day.