Ten Things You Can Do To Survive the Financial Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic
“How am I going to get through this?” The global health crisis has also become a global financial crisis. We want to help keep it from becoming a personal financial crisis for you. Here are ten things that you can do to stay financially healthy and afloat in the difficult weeks ahead:
Eliminate ALL non-essential spending
Essentials include shelter, food, utilities, insurance, and limited transportation. Within essentials, keep your spending to a bare minimum. Everything else should be fair game to reduce or eliminate. Avoid panic spending, hoarding, or shopping to relieve stress.
Pile up cash
Build or add to your emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund, start one. Even if it’s $10, then build from there. How much? Expect to be without income for 3 months. That’s how much you want to pile up if you can, meaning put in the bank or a money market fund. Not in the stock market.
Cancel recurring subscriptions, memberships, etc.
This frees up cash and increases the control you have over your situation. Take entertainment expenses down to a minimum. Music and video subscription services, magazines, gyms, etc. These are easy to restart when your personal economy stabilizes.
There is a LOT going on here, with many lenders/creditors voluntarily or by requirement suspending, deferring, or reducing payments. Federally-funded student loans, mortgage foreclosures, utilities, etc. Look at every single bill that you pay and find out if you HAVE to pay it in full and on time.
Cancel automatic savings (except for emergency fund)
This includes stopping retirement contributions (if applicable) for now, increasing your take-home pay.
Sell things you don’t need. Take an extra job. There are industries needing help and hiring in large numbers (food delivery, warehouse fulfillment, lawn care, etc.). If you can’t work extra at your job, think creatively about how you can bring in some extra money. But this is not spending money. This is only for essentials and your emergency fund.
Write out a budget
Start with expenses. List everything. Use last month’s bank and credit card statements – including payment services like Venmo, PayPal, etc. Cross out everything that was not essential. Now re-write it, with only the essential expenses. Is there anything else that can be eliminated or reduced? If you are like 90% of our clients you can find more to cut this second time through. Then write it out again. This is your “survival” expense budget. Now identify your expected monthly income for next month — is it more than survival expenses? Good. You have a surplus that can be your safety net. Put that surplus into your emergency fund.
Or, when you subtract income from expense, do you get a negative number? That means you need to either cut expenses further, or increase your income. If there simply is no where to cut or add income, then you need to draw on savings if you have it to make up the gap. And that’s ok, that’s what it’s there for.
Use your emergency fund
Be careful with this. Treat it as if it’s your last stash of money on earth. It will make you think twice before using it. But once you’ve decided it is absolutely necessary, do it. And then replenish, bit by bit, using your budget, as soon as you possibly can.
Avoid the temptation to raid your 401(k) or other retirement fund
Unless needed to avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy, just don’t do it. This is nearly always a bad idea.
Ask for help
Don’t try to go it alone. There are so many sources of tangible assistance and moral support. Use them without hesitation and without shame. For example, you would be surprised at how many lenders and service providers will work with you to stay connected and solvent. TALK with them. Almost without exception, people are happy to help if they can.
If you need further help, give us a call at (312) 286-8258 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT or email us at [email protected] . We will try to help you get information and make decisions that will allow you to stay on your feet until things get better. We are not charging for this service through the end of April 2020.