Below is a member guest submission from Lutheran Social Services via their blog.
With change and uncertainty around COVID-19, you may feel greater anxiety, worry and stress — especially around personal finances. Some of us are facing the possibility of reduced income with fewer hours at work. Parents are scrambling to find child care or cover shifts so they can stay home because their child’s school has closed. Many households are stocking up on food staples and supplies, creating a strain on budgets. And, there is turbulence in the stock market.
This is a perfect time for you to take a good look at your personal finances and put plans in place for the weeks and months ahead.
Steps You Can Take to Decrease Financial Stress
1. 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 your budget that could be cut temporarily?
- Avoid overbuying or stockpiling too many supplies, such as toilet paper and sanitizer.
2. Pay priority expenses.
- Pay your housing expenses first. That includes rent/mortgage and utilities. If you’re concerned about the ability to make your mortgage payment, contact us at LSS Financial Counseling. We offer free housing counseling over the phone.
3. Take care of your mental and physical health.
- Food is a priority expense. Also, keep paying your health care and insurance premiums.
- Focus on what you can control, including basics such as exercise, good sleep and nutrition.
4. Have a plan for managing your debt.
- Debts for credit cards, car loans and student loans have different priorities and options for helping you though times of uncertainty. Create a plan for addressing them.
- Contact lenders on your car loan, credit cards or student loans, and let them know if you are having difficulty making payments. See if they have any hardship programs.
- Contact us at LSS Financial Counseling. We specialize in these areas and can help you determine action for helping to manage your debt — at no cost to you and from the comfort of your own home.
5. 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 www.uimn.org or call 651.296.3644 or toll free at 877.898.9090.
- Nationwide, check out United Way by calling 211 or visit www.211.org. You will find support in your community for food, energy assistance, health care and many other essential needs.
6. 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 ups and downs 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.