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With change and uncertainty around COVID-19, you may be feeling greater anxiety, worry and stress — especially around personal finances. Some of us are facing the possibility of reduced income with layoffs or hours cut back at work. Parents are scrambling to find childcare or cover shifts so they can stay home because their child’s school has closed or moved to distance learning. Many households are stocking up on food staples and supplies, creating a strain on budgets. And, there is turbulence in the stock market.
According to LSS Financial Counseling, this is a perfect time for you to thoroughly review your personal finances and make a plan for the weeks (and months) to come. Here are their top action steps to decrease financial stress:
- Review your budget.
- If you are concerned about a decrease in income, review your budget and cut down on any expenses that you can.
- Ask yourself: “Are there items in my budget that could be cut temporarily?”
- Avoid overbuying or stockpiling too many supplies, such as toilet paper and sanitizer.
- Pay priority expenses.
- Pay your housing expenses first. That includes rent/mortgage and utilities. If you are concerned about the ability to make your mortgage payment, contact your lender, which may have borrower resources available, or LSS Financial Counseling, which offers free housing counseling over the phone.
- Take care of your mental and physical health.
- Food is a priority expense. Also, maintain your health care and insurance premiums.
- Focus on what you can control, including basics such as exercise, good sleep and nutrition.
- Have a plan for managing your debt.
- Debts for credit cards, car loans and student loans all have different priorities. Create a plan for addressing them.
- If you are having difficulty making payments, contact lenders on your car loan, credit cards or student loans. See if they have any hardship programs.
- Consider how funds from your expected stimulus check amount as part of the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) may be able to assist in getting you back on track with monthly payments.
- Take advantage of credit union member benefits to maintain your financial wellness. As a Firefly member, you have access to six free appointments each calendar year to work with LSS Financial Counseling, which specializes in these areas and can help you determine action for helping to manage your debt — even from the comfort of your own home. Give LSS a call today at (800) 528-2926.
- Stay up to date on changing situations and resources available to you.
- Many states are looking at expanding unemployment benefits for those impacted by work stoppage, such as hourly employees at schools.
- In Minnesota, if you are facing unemployment, you can file online at uimn.org or call (651) 296-3644 or toll-free at (877) 898-9090.
- Nationwide, check out United Way by calling 211 or visit 211.org. This referral center will help you find support in your community for food, energy assistance, health care, and many other essential needs.
- Don’t stop saving.
- Seventy percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 saved. Make this a priority. This will decrease financial stress and uncertainty.
- Stock market fluctuations are inevitable. Keep investing as you can.
- If your employer has a retirement savings match, make sure you are doing at least the minimum to get the match.
- Consider reaching out to your financial professional for advice.
Firefly’s priorities are the safety and health of you and your finances. For up-to-date information on how we are here to assist our members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, visit fireflycu.org/covid-19.
Contents of this blog article are intended to provide you with a general understanding of the subject matter. However, it is not intended to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Information may have changed since the publication date.