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Things have escalated within a matter of days or weeks all over the world.
Millions of people have been laid off, many without warning and/or continued pay.
If that is you, I am so sorry and I feel for you.
This may be a challenging and stressful time, but you can and will get through this!
Stay calm, positive, and healthy
I know this is cliche and you’re probably tired of seeing this, but it’s SO important during times like this.
You are not alone right now even though it may feel like it.
This is temporary and you will get through this.
Staying calm is key here so you don’t make any rash decisions in regards to your finances.
Don’t panic and cash out your 401K or investments, don’t sell everything you own, don’t stress-buy.
You want to make any important financial decisions from a rational mindset.
There is potential help coming from the government and you will get back on track soon.
It’s also important to stay healthy during this time to not only prevent this virus but also to prevent any other illnesses. Exercise, eat healthy, manage your stress, drink lots of water, and take your vitamins.
Stay positive during this time by minimizing your consumption of the news, journaling your feelings, and not dwelling on the fear, uncertainty or anxiety you may feel.
This will pass.
Also, PLEASE listen and stay home as much as possible. Not only do you want to prevent yourself and others from getting sick, but you want to prevent any other potential emergencies (car accidents, falls, etc.) as well.
Prioritize essential bills
If you have been laid off or your hours have been cut significantly, prioritize all essential bills.
This includes your rent/mortgage, food, electricity, and water. This may include your car/transportation fees as well.
Make sure you can pay for anything essential to your daily life.
And when it comes to your food and groceries, stick to a budget.
Sure, you may spend a little bit more as you stock up on a few perishable items but do not go crazy.
Even countries with a strict lockdown still have access to grocery stores. We can expect the same.
Stick to a food budget and don’t buy unhealthy snacks or novelty items that you don’t need.
Reduce spending and cut bills
It’s interesting because I committed to a No Spend Year and now many people are being forced into a couple of months of no spend or reduced spending!
There aren’t many places to go shopping but be sure you aren’t doing any retail therapy online.
This is also a good time to cut any unnecessary bills such as cable, Netflix, other streaming services, subscriptions, etc. It may be frustrating to do, but remember this is temporary and this may be what is best for you right now.
Be mindful of how much electricity and water you are using at home as well. Otherwise, your bills can really skyrocket considering you are home more often.
Call your lenders
If you know you are going to have a hard time making payments on your bills or debts, communicate that with your service providers or lenders.
First of all, MANY people are going to be struggling right now so this is expected.
Call these companies and explain your situation. Ask if they are offering any extension or forgiveness at the moment. Let them know if you won’t be able to make payments or if you can only pay partially. Ask if they can lower your interest rate.
It’s important to communicate with these companies so they have a record of your information. They understand that times are rough right now and you are making an effort.
Pause extra debt payments
If you have been making extra debt payments, pause those and prioritize savings for the near future.
Even if you still have your job I HIGHLY suggest you still save.
No one is secure and many things are uncertain right now.
Once things return back to normal, you will have a larger chunk of cash to use then.
Look for jobs
If you have been laid off or your hours have been cut, look for jobs at grocery stores and convenience stores.
Considering they are some of the only things open right now, many of them need help!
If you really are concerned about your finances this is a great option.
Don’t put yourself at risk if you’re susceptible or others in your home are, but you can maintain the “social distancing” and disinfection rules while working.
There is no shame in stocking shelves or running the cash register.
Do what you got to do to make your money!
Take this as a lesson
I hope all of this teaches many people the importance of an emergency fund and financial planning.
No one thought things would get this bad.
Having a large emergency fund will give you peace of mind after this crisis. If anything like this were to happen again you know you would be OK.
Take this as a lesson to save, to budget, to track your spending, to pay off your debt, to invest, and to have financial goals with a strong plan.
Struggling with money is NEVER fun, so be prepared.
It may be difficult to stay positive during this time but I want to encourage it.
Stressing, worrying, and any other negative feelings will not help you whatsoever in this situation.
Instead, look at this as an opportunity.
An opportunity to turn your life around. To learn new things. To overcome a challenge.
You can do this. You will get through this.