With coronavirus disrupting our daily lives, many people are worried about the effects on their budgets. Being told to sit on your hands and wait while uncertainty swirls around you can just add to your stress levels.
There’s no doubt that as we weather the coronavirus pandemic, stress has increasingly become a regular part of our lives. As if worries about our own health and the health of our loved ones isn’t enough, many of us are feeling the pressure of financial stress from mounting bills, reduced incomes, and job uncertainty.
Stay Safe and Be Aware of Scams
Unfortunately, even during a worldwide health emergency, scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation. With so many individuals anxious about the state of their health and finances, many are susceptible to frauds around COVID-19. Be wary of any unsolicited emails, phone calls, or other communications, especially ones that request donations or sensitive information. Do not give out any of your personal information to unfamiliar individuals or businesses, and don’t fall victim to text message scams that ask you to get your money by clicking on a link. When in doubt, contact a company or the government directly by looking up their contact information yourself.
Build and Adjust Your Budget for Reduced Income
If you don’t have a budget, now is a good time to put one together. If you’re facing a significant reduction in income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then track your expenses carefully and build an emergency budget. If you already have a budget, consider reviewing it to see if you can pare it down and reduce your expenses further. Take advantage of staying home for all this time and implement a no-spend challenge to help yourself save on discretionary expenses.
Get Familiar with the Resources Available to You
Right now, there are a variety of resources available to help you through this difficult time. Whether it supports during unemployment, deferred payment plans, or other emergency benefits, learn about which programs are for you.
Reach Out to Your Bank and/or Creditors
The best time to talk to your financial institution is before things have gotten out of hand. Concerned about paying your mortgage? The sooner you reach out, the better. As nervous as you might feel about talking to your bank, keep in mind that a lot of people need help right now, and many banks, credit unions, and lenders are working to support you. They’ll appreciate you being proactive and will help you find solutions.
Stock up smarter
Lots of folks feel the need to stock up on supplies right now. Yet few of us have money in the budget to clear out Costco. Here are some small, reasonable ways to get what you need and stay on budget.
Groceries: To reduce waste and grocery bills, center your shopping list on affordable, shelf-stable foods that won’t spoil in case you’re stuck at home for a bit—like rice, pasta, and beans. Look for fresh foods that freeze well (like bread and shredded cheese) and long-lasting produce (like onions and carrots)
Medications: Consider picking up just the few things you’d need if you had a winter bug, like cold medicine and cough drops. If you take a prescription medication regularly, give your doctor a ring to ask if you need an extra supply—and be sure to call your insurance to make sure they’ll cover it
Shop your own home: You might be surprised at how much you already have in your house to keep you comfortable while saying in. That lonely can of pumpkin in the back of the cabinet? Make curried pumpkin soup! The stack of half-finished crafts or unread books in the corner? Cheaper fun than renting movies online! Do an inventory of what’s right under your nose before you run out to buy more