Money & Career
Money Management: Where Do We Go from Here?
6/1/2020 10:15:59 AM
Money Management

We are all aware of the tremendous hit our economy has taken due to COVID-19. Over thirty-six million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. Seniors have watched their retirement savings drastically dwindle. This new reality affects everyday decisions in how we spend, save, and protect ourselves and our families. To cope, let’s reprioritize and get creative to preserve our resources and potentially determine how to make do with less.

Starting now will help you better survive both in the short and long term. Whether you’re trying to conserve your finances, need to adapt to a loss of income, or need some extra financial help, you have options.

Rethink your budget to maximize resources. If your income is stable, assess your needs and wants, reprioritize expenses, and plan for the future. COVID-19 has illustrated the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. Use this experience as a prompt to cut unnecessary expenses and save more money. 

Lower fixed costs to make the most of what you have.

Decrease food costs by shopping the sales, buying store brands, and using coupons. Review utility bills to see if you can lower usage. Negotiate fees with cable and internet companies. Scrutinize your cell phone usage. Cancel streaming or other services you don’t use. Review your auto insurance coverage and deductibles to potentially lower your premiums.

Make a game plan for the short term. 

Due to the blow to the economy, you might be struggling to get through the next few months. Review your resources and decide what you can cover. If you’ve depleted your savings but you’re still employed, look at any automatic savings plans. Consider deferring savings for a child’s college education. If you contribute more than the company match to a 401(k), maybe reduce that percentage temporarily. Avoid borrowing if you can. Next, prioritize your bills, putting housing, utilities, and health insurance at the top of the list. Consider temporarily paying the minimum on credit card balances, car loans, and student loans. Be cautious about reducing or cutting any of your insurance coverage. That could be risky.

Take advantage of extra help. 

If cutting your budget isn’t enough to make ends meet, more help could be available. Don’t let bills become overdue. Reach out to providers and creditors. Many are willing to work with you, but it’s up to you to let them know.

You may be able to lower or suspend mortgage payments for up to one year in some cases. Contact your lender.

If you pay rent, talk to your landlord about your situation and your options. Some states and municipalities have provided eviction restrictions for impacted individuals.

In response to COVID-19, federal law allows states to expand and increase unemployment benefits to more people, including a supplemental $600/week for up to four months. Apply at your state unemployment office.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid expanded family and medical leave related to COVID-19 through December 31. Talk to your employer.

New laws have enabled most federal borrowers to suspend student loan payments for two months. Contact your loan servicer.

Many utilities and phone companies have stopped cutting off services for nonpayment. Call them.    

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Categories: Finances

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