March 2, 2020
COVID-19 and Your Finances
Over the past few weeks, the severity of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation has rapidly increased in the US, causing dramatic ripple effects throughout the country, from mega-corporations all the way down to individuals. As businesses have temporarily shuttered and layoffs have proliferated across the country, having a financial plan in place is more important than ever. We’ve gathered some of the most pertinent information here to help support you through this challenging and unpredictable chapter in our history.
REGISTER FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
Item #1 on your to-do list if you’ve been laid off. The unemployment program in the United States is run in a joint effort between the states and the federal government, with each state setting the criteria for eligibility to receive financial assistance from the program. Recently, many states have relaxed their qualifications to receive UB in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and if you have lost your job through no fault of your own, it would be prudent to apply for your state’s benefits immediately. If you are looking to work this payment into your budget, it’s worth noting that on average unemployment pays around 45% of the lost wages — however, this number can vary dramatically from case to case.
Search for information on your state’s unemployment program here.
In special circumstances, you may still be eligible for benefits if you are not working but are technically still considered employed.
If you were already receiving aid from an unemployment program and you are reaching the end of your eligibility period to continue receiving these benefits (variable, but 26 weeks in the majority of US states), you can apply for extended benefits here.
Here’s a list of companies hiring right now to meet increased demand.
A pandemic can threaten food security in two different ways: through the loss of income, and through a shortage of available supplies. The good news is that, despite the empty shelves you may have seen at the grocery store this week, there is no significant threat to food supplies in the US. Retailers, demand planners, and supply chain managers are all in agreement that food production is at a healthy level, and is actually increasing to meet the higher demand for non-perishable items. This is not to say you should return to your completely normal shopping habits, but it makes sense to strike a balance between stocking and stockpiling to ensure that your family, and all of the other families out there, have an adequate amount of food.
Purchasing food in the wake of lost of wages is a different challenge. You may need to adjust your grocery budget in order to conserve your savings and make your food last longer, especially if you have a large family. There’s an endless number of online resources designed to help you stretch for your budget — Google is your friend!
Additional reading on how to navigate a reduced grocery budget.
The Reddit community r/EatCheapAndHealthy has thousands of user submitted recipes, many of which are tailored to families and cost less than $5 in ingredients.
If you are in a financial position to help ensure that others have enough food during this crisis, please consider taking these steps to help food banks.
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
The rapid onset of the COVID-19 crisis has caused significant stress to millions of people across the country, even more so to those that have been placed into a precarious financial position. The uncertainty of the current situation can no doubt contribute to a degradation of one’s mental health on top of other contributing factors. It’s more important now than ever before to take care of your mental health. If you find yourself struggling to cope with the stress of the current situation, PLEASE consider taking advantage of the following resources, the majority of which are free of charge.
There are lots of resources online and through government programs that can help you keep food on the table and a roof over your head as we navigate through this difficult time towards a brighter future. Our physical and financial health is of the utmost importance right now — please ensure you are doing all that you can to keep both as intact as possible. Be strong and stay safe — you’ve got this!
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pandemic. Reported illnesses range from very mild to severe, including death. Agencies anticipate widespread transmission will occur in the U.S. in coming months and recommend social distancing among other measures to slow the spread. Call your doctor and stay home if you are sick. Get more information at CDC.gov/coronavirus.