Navigating Your Financial Life Through This Time of Social Distancing

The coronavirus is affecting all of us in many different ways.  One of the most stressful ways for many people is navigating their finances.  I would like to offer some helpful tips for all of us. I’ll separate them by general situation.

You have been laid off from your job – 

  • Apply for unemployment immediately if you have not already.  Requirements vary by state, but in Nebraska, the waiting period is waived and the requirement to be looking for another job.  Many states are putting similar measures in place. If you can’t find the information you need, feel free to message me with your specific situation, and I will help you find answers.
  • Prioritize your bills.  In most cases, the most important things to pay are your rent or mortgage and one minimum credit card payment.  Everything else can be prioritized if you have additional funds after paying the first two things. Why? See the next item.
    • Side note – if you qualify for unemployment, you can typically get a deferment on student loans.  Make sure you cover all of your bases. There is no need to hurt your credit if you can avoid it.
  • Use a credit card for necessities. Make your credit card minimum payment so you don’t lose access, and use the card to buy a normal amount of necessary supplies like food and toiletries.  You can even pay utilities with a credit card if you switch your payments to Arcadia Energy.  Buying everything with a credit card and paying only the minimum payment is something you only want to do during the direst of emergencies, just to be clear.   And don’t buy anything that is not an absolute necessity.  
  • If you have school-aged children, take advantage of free meal offers.  These also vary by location, but in my location, the school is offering free drive up breakfast and lunch and there are a few restaurants offering sack lunches for kids.  Again, if you are having trouble finding help in your area, message me and I will help you find answers.  
  • Ask family for help.  If all else fails, ask your family for help.  Don’t ask just for money, explain what you need and happily take either money or items that are offered.  Be sure to say thank you and remember the help so that you can pay it forward or back someday in the future.  
  • Check social media for people offering to help. If none of these options work for you for any reason, log into the NextDoor app and browse.  People in my area are offering a lot of different varieties of help – from watching kids to running errands and more.  It is awesome.
  • Be resourceful.  This is a unique and strange situation for most of us.  Think outside of the box and do whatever it takes to get through.  This will not last forever. I know of a lady who went fishing 2 or 3 times a week to supplement her family’s groceries while she was building a business.  Use whatever strengths you have to keep it going.  

You are working, but not sure for how long –

  • Be cautious with your spending.  This should go without saying, but there is really nothing more you can do.  Tighten the belt and be as prepared as you can in case you need to revert to the laid-off scenario.  

Nothing has changed in your financial situation, but you are worried about the stock market and your retirement accounts – 

  • Unless you are a day trader or have all of your savings invested in one company, stop.  The market will recover.  Retirement account types like 401k, 403b, 457b, and most IRAs do not allow for riskier investment strategies.  Most are invested in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to avoid having all of the eggs in one basket.  That doesn’t mean that the balance isn’t really low right now, which can be very upsetting and stressful, but these types of investments are designed to be well-diversified and bounce back when the economy returns to normal.  These are meant to be long term investments and weather ups and downs.

Every day the state governments and the federal government are working on ways to help all of us economically.  Do your best to stay calm and control the things that you can control. While that may not seem like much at this time, there is always something we can focus on.  

I am but one person, but I am here if you need help finding answers or finding help for you.  Please feel free to reach out. Direct message through social media is the fastest way to reach me.  Stay well!

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