Our current situation is like nothing any of us has seen before. The impact the COVID-19 pandemic is going to leave on our world will no doubt be felt for years, if not decades, to come.
It’s much more than just being quarantined with our families at home. Lives and livelihoods are at stake, and devastating consequences are likely for a large percentage of the population.
I am a personal finance writer with expertise in some areas of finance. But I have a hard time looking at myself as an expert on how to handle finances during these times. I can’t sit here and pretend to understand your situation and pretend it’s the same as mine.
My job has mostly been unaffected so far, but that could change tomorrow. Many people reading this right now are probably in a place of desperation that I’ve never experienced and can’t pretend to comprehend.
With that said, I wanted to pass along a few tips to help you and your family financially during this time. I’m also going to share a few of the best resources I’ve come across over the past couple of weeks for people impacted by COVID-19 (which is everyone).
Financial Tips for Surviving a Pandemic
1. Do a complete financial checkup
It’s essential to know your current financial situation. How much money do you have in the bank? In retirement/investment accounts? How much debt do you have? How much are your monthly expenses?
This is not the time for regrets and wishing you had handled your finances better so you were prepared for this. No financial expert could have predicted what is happening right now.
You won’t hear any “I told you so’s” from me and I hope other people keep thoughts like this to themselves right now, as well.
This is all about knowing where you stand financially right now, so you can have a plan going forward over the coming months.
You can do this with a notebook and pen, using an expense tracking or budgeting app, budgeting software, or whatever way works best. Just do it.
2. Cut spending
You probably are already doing this, so I apologize if this seems too basic. Nobody knows how long this pandemic will last and the far-reaching financial effects it will have on us. It’s best to cut expenses wherever you can now, so you’re better off long-term. You can do this by:
- Spending money on essentials only
- Cut out everything else
- Pay minimum payments on all bills
- Cancel subscriptions
3. Ask for help
Now is not the time to wait and see if you and your family will be OK. It’s also not the time to be prideful. Millions of people have lost their jobs so far. Businesses have shut their doors, and many may never open them up again. This is reality for so many people.
Ask for help. One positive to come out of this tragedy is seeing people come together to help others in need. If you need assistance, ask for it and accept it if it occurs. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. If this continues and I’m faced with a situation where my family is in dire need, I hope I do the right thing and seek out help from others.
You also can look for help from banks, lenders and creditors. Many companies and organizations either have relief programs in place already or are creating them now to assist people who are struggling financially. Make it a priority to get in touch with anyone to whom you owe money so you can work out a long-term plan, pause payments, or make lower payments until you’re on your feet again.
Resources to Help us All Get Through This
Instead of reinventing resources that already exist, I wanted to share a few resources I’ve found helpful over the past few weeks. There’s so much news to digest, and some people took time to analyze all of it and put together guides to help people like you and me understand what’s going on and where we can find financial relief.
We all need help beyond our finances, too, so I’ve included other resources you may not be aware of yet. Hopefully, you find them helpful. If so, I ask that you pass them on to other people who may need them, too.
This guide from Jacob Wade at “I Heart Budgets” is the best source of reliable information I’ve seen anywhere so far. I know him personally and know he’s spent hours poring over recent legislation and other resources to break everything down into easy-to-understand terms. This guide touches on almost every aspect of finances, including:
- Stimulus checks
- Bank & credit card assistance
- Student loans
- Business resources
- Medical testing
- Financial hardship
- Money management
- Making money
Similar to the resource above, Erin Lowry from “Broke Millennial” has put together a Google Sheet with tons of financial resources, including job leads, money advice, charitable giving, food, shelter and more. She also shares resources on other topics like mental health, fitness and other ways people can take care of themselves during this time. Erin is updating this resource daily as new information is available.
Here’s a detailed look at the recently released Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses. If you have a small business or know someone who does, check it out.
Here’s another great financial resource for individuals and families to check out. Along with financial tips for consumers, there’s information on credit counseling, money advice for seniors and much more.
Here’s all the information you need regarding COVID-19 coming from the Ohio Department of Health. There’s so much information floating around. I’m finding it too easy to get consumed watching the news for every update or checking my phone for the latest news. This website has all the latest news updates for Ohio.
This guide from NAMI is full of tips and resources to help everyone take care of their mental health.
Along with continuing updates on the Coronavirus itself, the CDC released a resource on dealing with stress during this time.
My hope is that the resources above are helpful to you and your family. Please pass them along to other people as you see fit. I hope any questions you have right now are either answered through the links included, or that they lead you to people or organizations with the answers. Take care of yourself and your family.