Coronavirus and Your Money: How to Survive Financially
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Hi friends! Boy, what a year this past week has been. If you follow the news, are on social media, or virtually anything else you know just how much coronavirus, or COVID-19 is impacting our society.
At first I wasn’t going to write a post about managing life through the pandemic, but after receiving numerous questions from readers and friends I thought it best to write a post on the topic.
I would be lying if I said I’m not concerned. Watching the news, this is a troubling time. COVID-19 has completely disrupted the lives of most Americans.
However, I have confidence in our leaders, scientists, and doctors that we will make it through this crisis. It may not be next month, but we will survive.
The goal of this post is not to scare you. It’s to provide a list of resources you can use to manage your way through this crisis.
This is a constantly changing time. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m watching the White House announce new plans it is putting in place to help Americans weather this crisis financially.
If you have something to add to this list, please let us know. We will add it to provide a more thorough resource for our readers.
How to Prepare for the Coronavirus: Common Sense Steps
The virus is here. If you haven’t already, start doing these simple things right now.
Wash your hands – Please, wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this is the best way to help stop the spread of the virus.
I know it’s easy to forget to wash your hands, but it’s absolutely critical. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
I’ve been told if you sing Happy Birthday (and insert a name), twice, while washing your hands, you’ll hit the 20-second mark.
This is a trick we have used with our kids to help them ensure they wash their hands well. Hand sanitizer is also helpful to have available. Here’s our guide on how to make hand sanitizer at home if you can’t find any at the store.
Stay home – If you’re like me, you’re tired of hearing how to practice social distancing and why we need to stay home.
However, the CDC believes this will help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Don’t believe false truths – There are myths floating around the internet of how to tell if you have coronavirus. Examples include:
- Holding your breath for ten seconds without coughing
- Taking vitamin C supplements
- Refusing packages from China
All of these are myths. The best source to learn about coronavirus symptoms, what to do if you’re sick, how it spreads, etc., is the CDC.
Get the facts about coronavirus right here.
COVID-19 and Your Finances
COVID-19, or coronavirus, is impacting countless areas of personal finance. Here are some things you can do to prepare for the economic collapse that’s coming.
Grow your emergency fund – Emergency funds aren’t sexy, but this crisis is a perfect example of why they’re necessary.
Most Americans can’t handle an emergency of $400. If that describes you, now is the time to start saving – if you’re able.
Find a way to cut $50 per month and start putting it into a savings account. Chime Bank is a perfect option to do this.
They have no minimum balance requirement and round up your purchases and put those amounts in your savings account. You can read our review of the bank here.
If you need ideas of how to save money, read our guide on how to lower your monthly bills.
Leave your 401(k) alone – Watching the stock market take such a significant hit is jarring and plays on our emotions. The temptation is to sell everything in your retirement accounts and wait out the storm.
I get it. I want to do the same thing, but it only locks in your losses. If you’re ten years or more away from retirement, you have ample time on your side.
Statistics show that those who sold during the 2008 stock market disaster largely held out of the upswing and lost out on one of the biggest opportunities in the post-crisis uptick.
This article from The Motley Fool provides excellent insight as to why selling your stocks during a crisis is not a good idea.
Look for ways to make extra income – We still don’t know how many people are going to lose work because of COVID-19. I know several people who are furloughed or laid off.
If you’re in that situation, and need help paying bills ASAP there are ways to make money from home. There are also income opportunities with limited human interaction.
Here are a few of the top posts from the site that provide ways to make extra money:
- 9 Best Delivery App Gigs to Make Extra Money
- 21 Real Ways to Make Money from Home
- How to Become A Virtual Assistant and Make $25+ Per Hour
- How to Teach English Online from Home: 5 Companies That Pay $15+ Per Hour
- 11 Legitimate Work-from-Home Jobs That Pay $20+ Per Hour
More people than ever are going to need food, groceries, and more delivered to them. Signing up with a delivery app could be a great way to keep money coming in to your bank account during this crisis.
For more ideas on how to make extra money, go to our Earning More section of the site.
Unemployment – If you have lost your job due to coronavirus-related issues, and wondering what to do, here’s how to apply for unemployment. You want to do it as soon as possible.
Reports indicate they have waived the one week waiting period for applying. Contact the Department of Labor for your state to begin the process.
Student Loans – The President announced he’s waiving interest on federal student loans during this time. Additionally, as of March 20, federal student loan payments are suspended until September 30, 2020.
Perkins loan borrowers also receive three months of forbearance, though interest will still accrue.
This press release from the Department of Education explains how it works. If you have questions on your loan, contact the servicer.
This article from Forbes does also does terrific job of explaining what you can do.
You can also read our guide on student loans and COVID-19 to learn more about what’s available to you.
Mortgages – With the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates, now may pose an opportunity to refinance.
It’s important to know that rates are dynamic. Demand can drive mortgage refinance rates up. All rate reductions may not always flow to consumers.
If you have a lender you work with, ask them what the opportunity is to lower your rates through a refinance. Do you need assistance with payments?
Read our guide on mortgage and rent relief to learn what’s available to you.
Banks or Credit Cards – Banks know their customers will potentially face unforeseen circumstances thanks to the pandemic.
If you’re in need of help, contact your bank as soon as possible to see how they can assist you during these times.
This Forbes article is an excellent resource. It lists banks that are working to assist customers, and how to contact the correct area for help.
Here’s another article from Yahoo Finance that further addresses what credit card issuers are doing and what may happen with interest rates.
Taxes – The Treasury Department just announced that the IRS will move the tax filing deadline to July 15.
If you owe, you want to file before July 15 and the IRS will waive any interest or penalty payments. If you’re expecting a refund, still file as they want to get that money in your pocket.
This is still a developing situation. Go to the IRS Coronavirus page to learn more updates as they’re available.
Save money on your shopping – Saving money when shopping is always important, especially when dealing with a disaster like the one we’re currently facing.
If you need to buy anything online, look for ways to save money. There are dozens of apps and sites that help you receive a discount or get money back on what you buy.
It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps. Read our guide on how to get paid to shop online for the best choices to save on shopping.
The above is a good start on managing your finances in light of COVID-19. This article from the New York Times is a terrific resource that covers everything from staving off eviction to how to apply for unemployment and more.
Lastly, you can read our guide the coronavirus stimulus checks to learn about how much you’ll receive from the government as assistance.
If you’re asking yourself “When am I getting my stimulus check?”, it’s coming out in waves so you should see funds soon.
Living Daily Life Amidst the Coronavirus
To say that COVID-19 has impacted daily life is an understatement. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you deal with the changes.
Food – You’ve likely seen pictures from across the country of empty grocery shelves. News of the virus spread fast and it shows when you go to the store.
There are ways to manage shopping, even with social distancing. Many restaurants are staying open for to-go orders.
If the restaurant has an app, you can even order ahead.
You can use an on-demand delivery app to request delivery if you don’t want to leave the house. Some restaurants in our area will even deliver through their own employees.
The best part is many services allow you to have meals delivered to your door and not have to interact with the delivery person.
Here are a few of the top posts on the site to help with meal deliveries:
- 6 Best Companies Like HelloFresh for Meal Delivery
- 8 Best Grocery Delivery Services
- 7 Best Food Delivery Apps to Get Meals at Your Door
- Free Food Apps: 25 Restaurants Giving Away Free Food
Many of the services offer discounts, or promotions to new customers so don’t overlook the savings.
Working from home – The spread of coronavirus is drastically changing the idea of work for many people and businesses.
The idea of working from home is new to many, and not always an easy adjustment.
I have worked from home for eight years, and love it. But, it does take an adjustment especially if you have children at home.
Here are my tips to effectively work from home:
- Maintain a similar schedule to the one you follow in the office
- Find a dedicated work space
- Avoid distractions like social media or TV
- Get up from your desk and exercise
- Find a way to stand while working – this helps with production, health, and energy
While I do love working from home, it does take effort.
Travel – We’ve already had to cancel or postpone two trips thanks to COVID-19. The travel industry is understandably taking a huge hit during these times.
This post from our friends at Club Thrifty gives a good plan of attack if you have travel plans. If you can, handle changing travel plans online, through the respective travel provider, to avoid long hold times.
School Lunches – My brother is a high school teacher and works with numerous students who receive school lunches.
This program is not changing, regardless of COVID-19. The USDA is working with each state to ensure this program will safely continue to provide meals to students in need.
Here is the USDA resource on those meals and how they’re working in light of the virus.
Manage your TV time – It’s natural to watch TV when you’re at home during a quarantine. It’s also natural to stay on social media all day during a lockdown.
Balance that with overindulging in information. Too much information is not a good thing at times. Instead, spend time with your family, pick up a hobby you enjoy, or go for a walk in your neighborhood.
Here are a few of the top posts on the site of things you can do to fill your free time:
- 9 Best Places to Watch Free Movies Online
- 33 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend
- 35 Cheap Date Night Ideas for Couples on a Budget
- 11 Things to Do Besides Watch TV
Just as important during trying times like this is your mental and emotional health. Take time away each day to keep yourself, and those around you healthy.
There is a lot of information here, but I hope you find it helpful. If there’s something you would like us to add, please let us know and we’ll add it to the post.
These are definitely trying times, but this will make us stronger. And, remember, wash your hands!
How is the virus impacting you? What’s one thing you’re doing each day to maintain sanity in light of the virus?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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