Taking control of your finances during a worldwide pandemic does not have to be a daunting task. By prioritizing, planning, and taking a proactive approach to financial challenges, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are as financially prepared as possible during an uncertain time. Here are some practical tips to help you prepare:
Prioritize your critical expenses
- While the moratorium on evictions has been extended until December 31, 2020, landlords can still place tenants on the hook for paying back rent once it has been lifted.
- Prioritizing expenses like housing, auto, and food ensures your family continues to have shelter, food, and a means to safely travel to work and school during and beyond the pandemic.
Plan for the present and future
While you can’t change what has happened in the past, you can make a commitment to plan for today as well as what’s to come in the future.
- Create a spending plan. Take your most recent bank statement and categorize each expense incurred. Identify areas of high expenses and draft a plan to lower those expenses. For example, making a commitment to prepare food at home rather than using curbside pickup or delivery from restaurants can drastically lower food costs, allowing more funds free to allocate to other critical expenses.
- Pay yourself. By identifying areas where you can lower expenses, you can work toward setting aside money each month to allocate toward an emergency fund or build up savings for the future.
- Don’t overlook estate planning. Tomorrow is never promised and that is more evident now than ever before. Dedicate some time to start estate planning — draft a will along with a healthcare directive and durable power of attorney so you can rest easy knowing someone you trust will be in charge of your affairs should you become incapacitated or die.
If you find that you are not able to meet all monthly obligations, take action.
- Contact creditors to determine what options are available. You may be eligible for a deferred payment, a forbearance, or lower interest rates on your existing credit obligations.
- If you have lost employment, apply for unemployment income as soon as possible, if eligible. Reach out to as many recruiters as possible to let them know you are seeking continued employment in your field. Essential workers in healthcare, food, retail, warehouses, distribution centers, and delivery industries are careers that are in demand right now. While seeking employment, apply for temporary relief programs like SNAP, WIC, and TANF. Contact your child’s school to determine if they are eligible for a free or reduced meal plan. Reach out to your local United Way by dialing 211 and inquiring about additional relief programs at the local level.
- Research nonprofit programs offering support. Active duty, deployed, veterans, or wounded, ill, or injured service members may be eligible for assistance from Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance Program. Visit Operation Homefront for more information.
As you prioritize, plan, and develop a proactive approach to financial obstacles during a worldwide pandemic, it is important to remember that financial stressors can take a toll on mental health. Remember to prioritize self-care by ensuring you are consuming a nutritious diet, staying active, and reaching out for help if you get too overwhelmed.