Coronavirus outbreak. What do you feel when you hear those two words? Are you freaking out? Stocking up on supplies? Or, are you just not sure what to think?
I’ll tell you that for me, I feel like I’ve just stepped into the Twilight Zone!
I look around and see that store shelves are empty. Schools are closed. Public events are canceled. Airports and commuter trains are bare. People are hoarding toilet paper. And fights are breaking out over hand sanitizer. 😳Huh!
Now, if that doesn’t sound like something out of a Zombie Apocalypse movie, I don’t know what does.
And I’m sure that has you wondering…
Well, as we’ve all seen every day, there are more closures, cancellations, and restrictions. And nearly every aspect of our daily lives are being affected.
As for the possible financial fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, well, that could include:
- Earning less money. As I mentioned earlier, businesses are being forced to close. And not every job has the option to work remotely.
- Increased utility bills. The kids are out of school. Plus, everyone is staying indoors more. So naturally, water and electric bills are bound to increase.
- Higher food costs. The looming threat of a lockdown or quarantine has created a frenzy to stock up on groceries.
- Depleted emergency funds. Again, we don’t know how long the crisis will last. So chances are, you’ll need to tap into your reserves.
- Investments plunged. The coronavirus outbreak has people running scared. And we’ve all seen our portfolios take a nosedive in recent weeks.
- Unplanned medical expenses. If you or your family becomes infected with the coronavirus, what will it cost you? There could be treatment, medication, or Heaven forbid, even hospitalization costs.
- Racking up debt. What if you don’t have enough of a cash cushion to tide you over during the coronavirus outbreak? If that’s the case, then you will more than likely be tempted to turn to credit cards or loans.
Okay, admittedly, it doesn’t sound good! And millions of families are already living paycheck to paycheck. So, the fear AND the struggle are very real!
I’m sure you must be wondering…
Even though we can’t control everything that’s going on around us, we do have options to help with our money!
So, first things, first,
The sight of empty shelves can definitely be unnerving. And it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of a hoarding mentality. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that once things settle down, your regular bills will still need to be paid. So, it’s better to shop smart. Get what you need for at least 2–3 weeks. And don’t overspend! Because, when this is all over, you don’t want to end up in more debt than you started with.
If you’ve been saving to buy a car, home, or even a new refrigerator, ask yourself, can it wait a little longer? Even if you are not hurting for cash, you may want to hold off temporarily and allow the dust to settle. It’s difficult to predict at this point how much money you will need to make it through this crisis.
Even during a crisis like the coronavirus outbreak, we still need basic essentials. Those include food, shelter, and utilities. However, almost everything else is optional. So, assess all your non-essential expenses. And things like eating out paid subscriptions, and any membership dues need to be slashed or discontinued immediately!
When you’re stocking up on supplies, don’t forget about your budget! While it’s good to be prepared, it’s also important to shop wisely. So check your pantry and fridge first. And always shop with a list. Because now more than ever, it’s crucial not to lose track of where your money is going!
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Peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, and rice and beans are all delicious family favorites. They’re also excellent comfort foods, have a good shelf life, and make easy, satisfying meals. Plus, you won’t break the bank if you stock up on these items.
Without an emergency fund, your first instinct may be to turn to credit cards. Or even worse, the dreaded payday loan! But try to avoid these options at all costs! Even if your bank offers to raise your credit limit, or give you 0% interest, you still will be adding to your debt burden. And that will only hurt your finances in the long run.
Well, whether that is fact or fiction, the best defense is to clean your hands after touching any form of payment. That includes your debit card and cell phone. So, that’s just a little FYI, because it never hurts to err on the side of caution. In any case, the bottom line is that using a debit or electronic payment can curb your overspending the same as using cash.
Of course, under normal circumstances, paying off debt quickly is always my recommendation. However, a global pandemic is not a normal circumstance. Plus, none of us knows how long it will last. Or, what the full financial fallout will be. So it may be best to make the minimum payments for now.
And if you’re worried about losing your debt payoff momentum — don’t!
Even when I was paying off my debt, there were a couple of occasions where I only paid the minimum balances. And guess what? I was able to get right back on track!
And do you know why?
Because my mindset had already shifted. I was no longer just kinda haphazardly paying my bills. I had a focused plan to get out of debt. And I was very intentional with my money. And before you know it, I still achieved my goal of becoming 100% debt-free.
The thing that matters most is that you continue to make your payments on time. And, if it turns out you didn’t need the extra money during the pandemic, that’s great! You can still throw it all at your debt later. But for now, it’s better to make sure that you can meet your family’s needs throughout the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.
We all have stuff that has been taking up valuable space in our home for years. For instance, the treadmill that we never use that has now become a catch-all. We always think we might use these items ONE DAY — but we never do! So, now is the time to go through every closet, drawer, and storage room. And whatever unused items you’ve got lying around — take a good hard look at it! If the sight of it doesn’t bring you joy, then that’s your cue — it’s time to get rid of it!
If you find yourself unable to work due to the coronavirus outbreak, don’t wait! Contact your lenders immediately. Many financial institutions have implemented relief plans for customers affected by the coronavirus.
This could include waiving fees on late or missed payments. As well as waiving early withdrawal penalties on CDs. You may even qualify for mortgage forbearance. This could either reduce or suspend your payments for up to 6 months. However, be aware that interest may still accrue during that time.
Check with your HR about paid emergency leave. Fortunately, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was recently passed. It provides emergency relief to Americans financially impacted due to the coronavirus outbreak. And it can also assist with free coronavirus testing if needed.
Don’t forget your EAP. Employee Assistance Programs offer free, voluntary, confidential services. They help families struggling with a variety of issues, including financial difficulties. Plus, there are even free counseling sessions if you’re feeling anxious during the coronavirus outbreak. So contact your HR department for more information on that as well.
Lookout for free meals. Many school districts are offering free breakfasts and lunches for kids during weekdays. This can help keep down food costs for families that depend on these meals. So visit your district website for times and locations. Plus, emergency benefits are also available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Click here to apply.
Federal Student loan interest rates are being waived. This is excellent news for federal student loan borrowers. Because as of March 20, 2020, interest rates will automatically be set to 0% for at least 60 days. On top of that, you can also request a 60-day payment suspension without accruing interest or fees.
This offers an excellent opportunity to free up some extra cash. Because the last thing you need to worry about during a pandemic is how you will pay those pesky student loans.
So, are you one of the millions of employees that have been sidelined from work? And, do you have the type of job that can’t be done remotely? If so, you’ve probably been racking your brain about how you will earn enough money to pay your bills.
Well, there is some good news. Since millions of businesses have been forced to close, people are stuck at home. And no, that’s not the good part.
The good part is — do you know what that means?
It means people will turn to online sources looking for more content than ever before. So if you’re looking for ways to earn extra cash, then this is the perfect time to create digital content. For example, a piano teacher can teach a virtual class, or host an online concert. Or, a chef could create an ebook or online video course about how to prepare delicious quarantine meals using pantry items.
In the middle of this unfortunate situation, there is still tremendous opportunity to make some extra cash while you’re stuck at home. You can check out this list of 101 profitable digital products to get more great ideas. So, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing and start thinking outside the W-2 box.
We are all reeling over the way the world has been turned upside by the coronavirus outbreak.
And no one knows what the full global or financial impact will be. But, we must not let this crisis turn to panic.
It goes without saying that we should all do our best to stay healthy. And now, you also have the tools you need to survive this pandemic without going broke.
So take advantage of all the tips and resources available to you.
And most importantly, remember — we will get through this!
Stay healthy, my friend!
This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.