Steps to Secure Your Finances During a Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a wave of uncertainty felt in households across the country. While finances are always important, it is particularly critical right now to take control of your money situation. The impact is being felt differently by different people, but there are certain steps everybody can take to secure their finances during this time.
Stay healthy, stay safe
This is important for obvious health reasons, but also for financial reasons. If you get sick, not only would it impact your ability to work, but there are potential heavy expenses that would come with doctor visits, prescriptions, or even hospital visits. Even if you have insurance, the cost of getting sick can be steep, follow the CDC guidelines to keep you and your family healthy.
Evaluate Your Income Situation
Has your income changed? Is the threat of losing your income growing, or are you isolated from the economic impact that others are feeling? Take time to understand your income situation and begin to plan out how that’s going to impact you over the coming weeks and months. If you have a financial advisor, now’s the time to set up a video chat or a call for some expert advice. If you need a new source of income, check out this list of the best side hustles and virtual jobs to make cash quick.
Alter Your Budget Accordingly
Now that you understand your income situation, it’s time to adjust your budget. Look for areas where you can save or cut completely (subscription services like Stitch Fix or Ipsy, streaming services like HBO NOW or Hulu, as well as magazines and mobile apps) to make sure you have enough money to cover the things you that can’t cut (food, utilities, housing, etc.).
Continue making payments on time
Even if you have to cut down to just making the minimum payments, making credit card, student loan and other recurring payments on time is critical to maintaining your credit. Even if you can make payments in full, you may decide it’s better to keep more cash in hand right now. You can always schedule the minimums to make sure they’re paid and then make an additional payment once you know you’re covered everywhere else. If you’re in danger of missing payments, contact creditors directly to see what forbearance options might be available. Knowing all of your options will help you make the best decision for you.
Use your stimulus check wisely
Different people will use the stimulus check for different reasons, so it’s important be thoughtful about what the best path is for you. Consider what your needs are and where the money could have the greatest impact, whether it’s covering monthly bills, helping pay for a need that’s been put on hold, or simply padding your savings. It’s up to you and remember that there’s no right answer for everyone.