With the recent layoffs, lockdowns and economic uncertainty, it’s understandable to feel like you’ve lost control of your finances.
As your partners in financial success, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on your finances.
- Consider Filing for Unemployment
- Ask for Payment Deferrals on Bills
- Get Serious About Budgeting
- Inexpensive Activities & Recipes
- Be Resourceful with Your Funds
- Avoid Scams
- If You Need Help, Dial 2-1-1
Consider Filing for Unemployment
If you have been laid off or lost hours at your job, even temporarily, filing for unemployment benefits should be your top (financial) priority. Here are the links for Oklahoma and Kansas, where you can check to see if you are eligible.
Many states have waived waiting periods and the federal government’s stimulus package will expand unemployment eligibility and supplement state unemployment checks with an additional $600 per week for eligible workers.
Ask for Payment Deferrals on Bills
Many lenders (including CFCU) are facilitating loan payment deferrals for borrowers who are impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, your utility providers may also be able to offer payment plans or deferrals.
Depending on the organization’s policies, you may be required to provide documentation of the hardship to process the request.
Get Serious About Budgeting
If you don’t have one already, now is the perfect time to create a budget. If you already have one, now is the time to cut it down to the bare essentials.
Identify your immediate needs, including housing, utilities, insurance, food, household staples and any bills you weren’t able to defer. Those items should be your main priorities.
Cancel any subscriptions you don’t use or services you cannot access due to restrictions on businesses and movement. Look at your monthly restaurant and fast-food expenses to see if you can save by preparing meals at home. Evaluate your child care expenses and consider having family members step in to help.
Here’s a link to make a copy of redditor u/Celesmeh’s Budget Spreadsheet with Instructions in Google Sheets. It’s free and easy to use.
Tip: Even if your income hasn’t been affected, use this time to calculate what your unemployment benefit would be, and how you could trim your expenses to make that budget work.
Inexpensive Activities & Recipes
Saving money doesn’t require drastic sacrifices. We’ll defer to Internet Experts™ for a list of free activities for kids and free streaming services as well as a Budget Bytes – the ultimate in low-cost recipes.
In the age of the internet, staying entertained at home is easier (and cheaper!) than ever before.
Tip: Have an emergency fund? Keep it somewhere safe (not under your mattress), accessible and interest-bearing, like our Reverse Tier Money Max Account.
Be Resourceful with Your Funds
Selling your things on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for extra cash isn’t a safe bet in a time of social distancing, but there are alternative ways to access funds if you need them.
If you’re expecting a refund on your 2019 taxes, file them sooner rather than later! The earlier you file, the faster you’ll receive your refund.
We are offering low-interest rate Relief Loans to members who have been impacted by COVID-19. You also may have equity in a car or home that you can leverage at a very low rate compared to most credit cards and unsecured loans.
Scammers don’t take time off for pandemics. In fact, they’re working overtime to come up with new ways to capitalize on current events. Here are a few we’ve seen.
The government won’t call or email you to ask for your bank information to give you your stimulus check. If you receive social security income or filed your taxes using direct deposit, the government has your account information. If not, they’ll mail you a check.
There is no magical COVID-19 cure or supplement you can order online. The CDC has a guide to protect yourself here. It doesn’t mention vitamins, supplements, or silver. Individuals and companies selling these supplements as a cure to COVID-19 are attempting to profit off of the panic. We recommend you consult a licensed physician before taking any supplements or medication.
Your social security number isn’t being frozen. If you get a call like this, hang up. Government agencies will send you official *physical* mail if they need to contact you.
“Card Services” isn’t calling to lower your interest rate if you give them your credit card number. Your financial institution already knows your account information. If you have questions about interest rates or deferrals, call the number on the back of your card.
Your utility company (likely) doesn’t need payment today to prevent a shutoff. Most utility companies have put a moratorium on shutting off essential services at this time. If you are behind on your utility bills, contact the company directly using their official channels found on statements or invoices.
Tip: If something seems unusual or too good to be true, hang up the phone. Call back the company that called at their official phone number – not the one the call came from.
If You Need Help, Dial 2-1-1