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Handling Your Finances During COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a major impact on consumers worldwide. In the U.S., unemployment has risen sharply as Americans have been laid off or had their hours cut due to the virus. Not only are they worried about getting sick, they are also worried about how to handle their finances during COVID-19. Here are some tips on how to manage your finances during this time of crisis:

finances during covid-19

Prioritize Expenses

The first step to handling your finances during COVID-19 is prioritizing your expenses. If you don’t have a steady income, you may not be able to afford everything you could afford before. You will have to make some significant adjustments to your budget. Prioritize the basic necessities like food, medicine, and housing. Cut down on entertainment expenses and takeout. Given that places like movie theaters, restaurants, and bars are now closed in most states, this should be relatively easy to cut.

Contact Lenders & Creditors

Making payments on your credit cards may not be in your budget right now. Contact your creditors to see if they can help you with a payment plan or deferment. Creditors are aware that COVID-19 has wreaked financial havoc on millions of consumers, so chances are, they should be able to work with you on this. Keep in mind that because so many people are affected that wait times on the phone may be longer than usual.

Use Your Stimulus Check Wisely

If you qualify for the $1200 stimulus check, be smart about how you use it. For those who are struggling to afford the basic necessities, use this check for rent, groceries, or medical expenses. This can help you stay afloat without relying too heavily on credit cards to survive, which could create a cycle of debt later. The check may not seem like a lot of money when you have bills piling up, but it should help.

Be Extra Careful of Scams

Scammers and identity thieves take advantage of vulnerable people. If anyone calls or emails you with offers that sound too good to be true, they probably are. Never give out your Social Security number or credit card information over the phone unless you know for sure you are speaking to your bank or other financial institution. Also, check your credit report regularly for any suspicious activity. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can pull your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Know What Help Is Available

Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. There are several nonprofits and government resources that are offering help. Here are a few general resources:

Economic Stimulus Payment Information
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know

Health Care Coverage Information 
https://www.healthcare.gov/

Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources
https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Mortgage Help for Homeowners Impacted 
https://www.fhfa.gov/Homeownersbuyer/MortgageAssistance/Pages/Coronavirus-Assistance-Information.aspx

HUD Information 
https://www.hud.gov/

Social Security Administration
https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/

Student Loan Forbearance Information 
https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Benefits 
https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance

Avoiding Scams 
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

Emergency Financial First Aid Kit 
https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2020-03/ready_emergency-financial-first-aid-toolkit.pdf

Disasters and Emergency Readiness 
https://www.ready.gov/

To speak to one of ACCC’s certified credit counselors, call 800-769-3571 for a free credit counseling session!

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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