SURVEY: Nearly half of Americans are worried about finances

As Congress struggles to agree on a new stimulus package for cash-strapped Americans, millions of household budgets are really feeling the pinch.

A new survey shows how worried people are, and what advice might help what money they may have.

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Edgar Nunnelly is among them. While he says he wasn't surprised by the lay-off that came weeks ago, "You mentally prepare for it (but) it's still tough," he says.

Now, with a couple of teenaged sons, and a wife who works part-time, there've been some sleepless nights worrying whether savings and emergency money will hold until he finds another job.

"Will I have to dip into those extra funds; Will I have to stretch those funds; Will I be able to find a position?" Nunnelly wonders.

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Certified financial planner, Bobbi Rebell, says it's a valid concern. A recent survey of unemployed Americans, by debt-management service Tally, finds 45% are worried they will run out of emergency funds, while 25% fear future paychecks will be smaller than before the pandemic.

To protect financial resources that remain, Rebell says the core-strategy is cutting expenses wherever possible. That includes negotiating with creditors, like landlords, credit cards and utilities. She says most would prefer 'something' over 'nothing', and it's likely not the first time they've had this conversation. "Most of them have systems in place where you don't have to say 'Can I speak to your supervisor'," she says, "The person you speak to is often authorized with a checklist of things they can offer you."

She also encourages looking for work that may be in a different field, to bring-in money and, maybe, benefits, like health insurance.

Meantime, for those who are still employed, but worry about a pink-slip, Rebell says 'protect' what money you have. Pay the bills; deal with high-interest debts; otherwise, play it safe. "You want to feel secure. You want to have money that is available to you, so make sure you have it accessible and liquid," says Rebell.

For Edgar Nunnelly, he's doing 'all of the above, with some cautious optimism that his plans will meet the challenge. "We're ok for a little bit," he says.

Finally, when the time comes that lawmakers reach a deal on another stimulus package, Rebell encourages people in need to take full advantage of whatever benefits might be available to them.