As much as I don’t want to be depressing and add to the stress, now is a time that we all need to look at our finances. Not in a panicked way, but in a realistic way.
Whether you are still employed, furloughed, laid off or something else, this shut down of the country is going to have an economic impact, and changes will be coming our way.
I do not have a crystal ball, but I’m spending my time giving you my recommendations for steps that you should be taking now to be prepared for the future – whatever it may hold.
Take a good look at your income source(s)
Now is a great time to look at your income source(s). Do you have only one? Do you have several? How many are still producing at this time? Is it a good time to start planning for a change of careers or focus in the future? Or are you good?
There are a million different answers here, and obviously I don’t know all of them, but I can tell you a little about my situation and how I am handling it.
My biggest earning side hustles before this pandemic crisis were dog walking and ride share (Lyft). Both are nonexistent right now.
My solution? Shift focus. I have taken some free training to develop a new approach to one of my other side hustles, selling Beautycounter products. I signed up to become a shopper and driver for Instacart. There is almost no limit to the things I will do to replace my lost income. I said almost….:)
My side hustles wouldn’t be the right fit for everyone. (Maybe hardly anyone, come to think of it..haha). But everybody has strengths that can be used to make money and be helpful.
One of my strengths is helping people figure out ways to bring in extra cash. If you would like to chat about adding more streams to your income, send me a message and let’s chat. I’m not trying to hire or recruit you, I am simply trying to help you figure out what will work best for your unique situation.
If you will be receiving stimulus money, make a plan for it
By now you probably know that many Americans will be receiving a stimulus check in the coming weeks. If you have not seen the details of the package, this article does a good job of outlining the facts.
If you are getting a stimulus check, I ask that you use this time to make a plan for the funds.
Whether you are still employed, furloughed, or otherwise, this is a time for all of us to be cautious with our money and spend with great intention.
I know how easy it is to get a chunk of money and buy something here and there, and the next thing you know…it’s gone. Let’s make a pledge to ourselves to plan for this money that is coming and make it count as much as possible.
Do what you can to protect your credit score
I once got my credit score down in the 400s.
You want to know how? I lost my job, started collecting unemployment, quit paying all of my bills except for rent, and started making excuses about how I couldn’t possibly make any money just then.
You see, we were going to move out of town in two months. I told myself I couldn’t be getting a job when I would just leave in two months. I roll my eyes at myself now. It took YEARS to repair my credit score after that period that ended up lasting about four months.
This situation is very different in that many, many people are unemployed and while there might be fewer opportunities for work temporarily, there are many more opportunities for assistance.
Here is the advice I would give my former self and you today if you are in an unemployed situation:
- File for unemployment ASAP.
- Make a budget for yourself – remember, you won’t need as much money right now since you are staying home.
- Start making calls to ask about deferment on any of your loans. Federal student loans are deferred without interest, but private student loans are not. You will have to contact the lender to request a deferment.
- Many home and auto lenders are granting deferments if you are unemployed.
- Many credit card companies will work with you, although if you don’t have an emergency fund, you may want to make the minimum credit card payment a priority. (See my blog here about managing your finances through this time)
- Start looking for side hustles – there is work online, there are delivery services, there are people who need childcare, there are retailers hiring people to stock shelves. (I do realize some of these will be too risky for those who are not leaving home at this time, but the jobs are there for those willing to take them.)
Do Not Panic and Do Not Give Up Hope
This is a temporary situation. Help is available. I am one of so many people available that can help you sort out your individual situation. Send me a message, reach out to a friend or family member and take it one day at a time.