How can I survive a delayed paycheck when I have no savings, no credit
March 6, 2013 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Being a moron, I forgot to turn in my timesheet this week. The way pay works at my company this means I might not get paid for 2 more weeks :/ How can I survive with all that budgeted money missing? What would you do?

I'm a financial mess, but I survive. I don't have savings though, everything is paycheck to paycheck. Today I was supposed to be paid 700, which I had budgeted down to the last penny for every thing I need for the next two weeks. While checking to see if my deposit when in, I realized that I didn't turn in my time sheet at the beginning of the week. NO PAYCHECK :( I'll get the paycheck eventually, but I'm not really in a situation to absorb that sort of loss for 2 weeks.

I tried begging with my long credit union to give me enough overdraft protection to cover this emergency, but they won't budge. I really don't want to get a payday loan, I don't even know if I could get approved because I have one that I'm paying down through a credit counseling service. All my credit cards are maxed out, and my family is currently even more strapped for money than me. How do normal people deal with this? Is there some way that doesn't involve illegal activities that I haven't thought of??

I know I'm an idiot for being in this position, but knowing that doesn't undo the situation I'm in, what can I do?? What would you do?

Throwaway email: :p
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you talked to HR and/or Accounting at your work? If they are at all decent people, they will find a way to get a check cut for you outside of the normal channels. As a manager, I've done this multiple times for employees in a tough situation.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:37 PM on March 6, 2013 [25 favorites]

Can you sell or pawn anything?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

What I've done in this situation is to triage like hell.

What are your immediate needs? Things like feeding yourself and keeping enough gas in your car to get to work. Possibly some non-delayable bills. Those are the things you MUST find money for, whether it's by forgoing other things, selling your stuff, going into the amount of overdraft your credit union will allow, etc. Also look at creative solutions like ONLY driving to and from work (or finding a ride?), eating PBJ's and cup noodles for the next two weeks, etc.

Then you get to monthly expenses you ought to take care of, but which can maybe slide a week or two. This is your second tier. You'd like to have your cell phone bill paid on the 12th, but maybe this one time it goes on the 16th and it's not really the end of the world.

After that, you've got gravy. Things you would usually consider "needs" in the loosest sense, which can be totally abandoned for the next couple weeks. Beer money. Your Netflix subscription. Dry cleaning. Stuff that is a need in a long term happiness sense, but which you can completely put off until you get back on your feet.

Sit down and figure out what your obligations really are until you finally see that paycheck.
posted by Sara C. at 6:42 PM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

the way pay works at my company this means I might not get paid for 2 more weeks
what can I do?? What would you do?

First, I would turn in my time card! Hopefully with my direct supervisor looking over my shoulder. Then I'd ask them as nicely as possible to please call the HR department and plead on my behalf to have a check cut.
posted by carsonb at 6:44 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you tell the mods what state you live in? They may actually be legally required to give you a check despite the lack of a timesheet (because they know you worked.)
posted by SMPA at 6:44 PM on March 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

The law may not allow them to do depending on your jurisdiction. I'd call your state's wage & hour department tomorrow (assuming you're in the US) or seek out a legal clinic that assists workers for some fast answers.
posted by zachlipton at 6:46 PM on March 6, 2013

Talk to your HR department, they will have heard it all before and most likely draw you a cheque as fast as possible, or at the least not make you wait 2 weeks for it.

When in doubt you need to triage, what bills can you go late on and absorb the late fees? Some companies if you talk to them and explain the situation it is a one off may give you an extension. Can you pawn or sell anything? Barter anything? What is the bare minimum you can get by on food wise? In similar situations I have batterned down the hatches filled up my gas tank bought a stockpile of rice and beans and ridden the chaos out. Whatever you do don't draw cheques if you don't have the money to cover them, the whole bounced cheque fee added to an overdraft fee craziness will make everything worse.

When you get through this and you will, sit down and work out a budget so you can get even a little savings, even a tiny buffer can help at times like this. and ten bucks here and there adds up quicker than you think.

Good luck.
posted by wwax at 6:54 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

A previous employer would give paycheck advances on a limited basis, in exactly these sorts of situations. Echoing ask HR first if they can either give you an advance, or expedite processing your timesheet.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:15 PM on March 6, 2013

Can you make some extra money after work or on the weekend? Offer to babysit, walk dogs, do odd jobs? Donate blood or plasma?
posted by keep it under cover at 7:16 PM on March 6, 2013

A more direct answer to your question: call the local United Way or 211, if you're in the US. They're connected to all the social services agencies, and there are usually a few that do short-term emergency loans, particularly if you're at risk of having utilities shut off or missing your rent payment.
posted by SMPA at 7:16 PM on March 6, 2013

A lot of workplaces offer advances, too. Don't be embarrassed to ask HR for help. That's what they're there for.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:25 PM on March 6, 2013

I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. If you require legal advice you should seek a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

I don't know how the wage and hours laws work in your state, but as SMPA writes above the law may very well be on your side. Your state's Department of Labor website may have some answers for you, or may be able to tell you over the phone whether what you're describing is legal.

Generally, where I've practiced employment law, something like what you describe would cost the employer at least $100 per day that they didn't pay you.
posted by gauche at 7:27 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you aren't already behind on your utility bills, call them and tell them your situation and they'll work something out. When I was broke, they were the easiest ones by far to deal with.
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on March 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you filed your taxes for 2012? Are you due money?

I got my return in less than 2 weeks e-filing at the end of January.
posted by fontophilic at 7:30 PM on March 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I just want to chime in to say you are not a stupid dork face. Our economic system is screwed up. You made what should be a small mistake, nothing more than that.

Go easy on yourself, follow the good advice above. You will get through this.
posted by alms at 8:01 PM on March 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Want to echo don't discount your HR department. I know not all are HR departments are great, but ours quietly handles delicate issues like this on the down-low (I only know because I'm a budget manager and an adjustment showed up in my monthlies). They don't advertise it because it would play holy hell with their workload, workflow, and budget. Recognize that this is not a universal situation, though. Best of luck.
posted by smirkette at 8:03 PM on March 6, 2013

If nothing else, maybe you can explain the situation to your friends, and see if you can do housework or something for some extra dough or barter for food. Or see if your Craigslist short term jobs section has something quick and easy.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:27 PM on March 6, 2013

Don't get another payday loan!! If you need food, go to a food pantry or charity. If you need to pay utilities, contact them and let them know your situation. If you need to pay rent, talk to your landlord. Yes to two weeks of beans and rice. You can survive on that. And get the cheap kind. I have been in similar situations. You can survive. A good strategy if you live hand-to-mouth, is to try to slowly stockpile some staples (dried beans, white rice, canned food) for the lean times.
posted by fifilaru at 9:40 PM on March 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're certainly not a stupid dork face, but neither does this have anything to do with our economic system. You work, fill out a time sheet, submit the time sheet and get paid according to the hours you worked. The time sheet is traded for a paycheck; no time sheet, no check. Fortunately, most HR departments have heard every story imaginable and they're willing to cut you some slack if you run to them for help - once. Be humble and beg - and make sure you don't have to do this again.

If not, you let everyone you owe money to know what happened and make arrangements with each of them. It's probably going to cost you plenty in penalties, though. Pawn whatever you can, take out a payday loan only if there's absolutely no other choice, and then take out less than what you'd like to have. Eat white bread, eggs, Ramen noodles, eggs, tuna fish, and eggs (cheap and excellent source of protein).

I had a friend in a similar situation who made a hundred dollars a weekend for a few weekends helping people pack and move - something like that might help.
posted by aryma at 9:46 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding plasma donation.

Some soup kitchens/food banks will feed you even during just temporary hardship!

Answer odd job ads on Craigslist -- doubtless someone needs help shoveling snow/moving/painting/what have you.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:10 PM on March 6, 2013

Talk to your manager and have them plead to HR and/or the accounts payable department. At my previous company they had a strict procedure for when things had to be turned in to cut checks, but if you sweet-talked them they'd cut a check manually.
posted by radioamy at 10:16 PM on March 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

First, get onto HR. They may well be able to expedite things for you. You can't be the first to have missed your cutoff. The last officey place I worked at would on occassion spot goons who forgot to do their sheet a fuel card out of petty cash to make sure they can get to work.

Next, sort out the big bills. Phone your utility companies and your landlord if possible and explain the situation. You may be able to defer those big payments until your checks come in. After all, it's in their interest to keep you connected, and two weeks is nothing at all to them to wait. Much cheaper for them to wait and rake in more money than cut you off/evict you.

Finally, cover your basics. See if you can eat with friends or family a few times a week, and hit them up for leftovers. Go through every handbag, wallet, coat pocket, couch cushions, car-seats, whatever, that you have access to. Hit up sympathetic parties for small loans - and make sure you track and pay them back when your pay gets in. You don't actually need a lot of money to eat if you can deal with eating the same shit every day. You'll come out of the fortnight feeling like shit, mind you, but you'll come out alive. Ten bucks in scavenged small change is a bag of rice, and beans and powdered milk. Check the clearance bins at the grocery store too - dunno what it's like where you are, but I've had luck in the past getting decent grub that's a day before expiry for next to nothing. That's breakfast and lunch right there. Does your office provide tea, coffee and milk? Get into that at lunchtime.

Check out what charities you can in your area.

This is what your networks are for. If you had a good friend who was in similar straights, think about what you'd be willing to do for them, and then ask your mates for that.

I've been there, and you can do it.

Once you do get your check, start stockpiling canned goods and dried stuff in case this happens again. I try to have at least a weeks worth of dry and tinned in my pantry, mostly because I had times where finding a two dollar coin on the side of the road meant I got to eat that day. An 80c tin of tomatoes in a 90c bag of pasta will feed you for three days if you're careful.
posted by Jilder at 4:12 AM on March 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm as much of an HR and accounting back office as my small company has got, and I would (and have) cut a check in this situation.

Just ask.
posted by phunniemee at 5:55 AM on March 7, 2013 [5 favorites]

As an HR person I can tell you that this happens ALL THE TIME. It isn't that difficult to cut a payroll check off cycle, we aren't going to make it happen every week but for a one-off "Sorry, I'm an idiot, any way I could get paid?" yeah, of course we'll try.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:09 AM on March 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Like others have said, talk to HR (or if there's no HR, whoever cuts the checks). I remember one time I faced a similar situation and the HR department handed me an advance, in cash, right in the office. It seemed very weird to me at the time but it's not at all uncommon.
posted by mskyle at 11:08 AM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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