As the United States deals with COVID-19 and history-making unemployment rates, many of us are feeling shaken up about our financial situation. Here are some positive steps you can take to protect your money in uncertain times.
Rework Your Budget
Now’s the time to look for ways to cut back on discretionary spending and consider how you’re allocating your money. If you’ve been ordered to shelter in place, you might spend a lot less on entertainment. However, you’ll need to budget more for higher grocery bills and other essentials.
Make Backup Plans
If you have travel plans that have been affected by COVID-19, reach out to your airline, cruise line, or hotel to find out their cancellation policy, and see if you can recoup any costs. Consider contacting your lenders and service providers to find out if they offer forbearance programs for those affected by COVID-19.
Check Your Emergency Savings
Having an emergency fund can be a lifesaver. Take stock of your resources and do some planning as well. Think about how you might stretch your emergency savings to last for a longer period of time, if needed.
Use Credit Wisely
When money’s tight, it’s tempting to use credit cards to get by for a few months. If you rely on credit cards or other loans in a financial pinch, have a plan ready to repay the debt and keep up with minimum payments (or more) each month, if possible.
Seek Financial Relief
Evaluate all of the benefits available to you through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including direct stimulus check payments to eligible Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, forbearance of mortgages for those affected by COVID-19, and a delay of payments on all federal student loans until Sept. 30, 2020.
Review Your Investments
Resist the urge to make investment decisions when you’re in panic mode and reacting to wild fluctuations in the stock market. If you’re planning to cash out investments to pay for living expenses now or in the near future, you should review your options with a financial advisor. Look for ways to reconfigure your portfolio to meet your changing needs and tap into your retirement income. With careful planning, you can achieve your goals and move forward with confidence.