Managing Household Finances During a Strike

Oct 6, 2023 10:44:35 AM

When there is a worker’s strike, households can face some unique challenges.

Whether you’re directly involved or indirectly affected, keeping a few things in mind can help ease the situation. Here's some advice from our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness!

First, communication is key. Make sure everyone in the household understands what’s happening and why. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about labor rights and the importance of standing up for what you believe in.

Next, stay connected. Take the opportunity to lean on your support network – friends, family, and community resources can be a big help during this time.

Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on the strike’s progress, negotiations, and any developments that might impact your situation. Knowledge is power.

Another general tip – stay healthy. Prioritize your physical and mental health. Stress can be high during a strike, so make sure to exercise, eat well, and find ways to relax.

Managing household finances during a long strike can be challenging, but it’s all about finding ways to make your money stretch.

As a trusted national nonprofit focused on financial health and wellness, we’re sharing some financial fundamentals below.

This situation sheds light on a critical reality — that 78 percent of American households are living paycheck-to-paycheck and find it more difficult to recover from an unexpected financial setback. The Federal Reserve Board has reported that 40 percent of Americans need help to cover a $400 emergency, which means that striking workers may have exhausted cash reserves.

If you are affected by the loss of your income, consider the following options:

Apply for unemployment benefits. Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program to file a claim.

Reach out to all creditors before payments are missed. The Office of Personnel Management has provided access to sample letters employees can use when communicating with creditors.

Inquire about hardship options with loan providers and lessors, financial institutions and service providers. Many banks may waive or refund overdraft, monthly service and late fees for mortgages and credit cards and may offer customers up to a two-month deferral for a nominal fee. If you have a vehicle loan or lease, you may have the option to extend the loan. Many creditors do not report a late payment on a credit report until a customer is more than 30 days behind.

Pay your mortgage or rent first before paying unsecured debts. GreenPath’s financial counselors often see people pay their credit cards in full and on time but pay their mortgage late. If you’ve had a loss of income, see which bills you should pay first.

Consider the use of a food bank, free clinic or other assistance services where needed. Refer to your state’s Health & Human Services website for information on available food and medical assistance. Alternatively, dial 211 or visit for assistance with navigating available local resources. In Canada, visit

Exercise caution when it comes to payday loans or other short-term “fixes.” (especially from unfamiliar companies).

Substitute teaching or working for a ride-sharing service (e.g. Lyft or Uber). These are a few options for earning supplemental income during unexpected shutdowns.

There are some steps you can take to make it easier to weather an unexpected income loss:

Investigate an income backup plan. Unfortunately, some services take advantage of those in vulnerable situations and may come with high-interest rates or create more financial difficulty in the long-term.

Consider reducing personal expenses where possible. Phone/cable carriers, for example, may extend billing due dates. You may want to explore ways to remove services on your cable/phone/Internet plan to lower your bill. Health clubs may temporarily freeze payments for you.

Make a spending plan. Behavioral economics research shows that when people are stressed, it is harder to make financial decisions for long-term health. Having a budget in place will help you feel more in control of your finances even during times of financial distress.