Smart money moves to make in uncertain times
By: Chad Van Cleave
With COVID-19 bearing down on the U.S. and the global economy taking a beating, millions of workers have lost their jobs and are facing difficult decisions. Many are feeling stressed to the max about their financial security. Here are some steps you can take to protect your money in uncertain times:
Rework your budget. Now’s the time to look closely at your income and expenses, and run the numbers to identify any gaps that need to be filled. Look for ways to cut back on discretionary spending. If you’re staying home, you might spend less on transportation and going out, but you may need to budget more for higher grocery bills and other essentials.
Trim your bills. Make a list of upcoming large expenses and consider if any of these purchases can be postponed. Contact your utility providers to find out if they offer skip a payment programs for those affected by COVID-19. Consider downsizing or dropping the features you don’t need for TV, phone and internet. You may be able to temporarily pause service for a few months to give your budget a break.
Check your emergency savings. Having an emergency fund can be a lifesaver. With three to six months’ worth saved up for emergencies, you could avoid racking up credit card debt or cashing out retirement accounts to pay the bills. 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. However, charging up a mountain of debt that you can’t afford to repay can damage your credit score, making it harder or more expensive to borrow money in the future. 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.
Keep a long-term outlook. Are you worried about wild fluctuations in the stock market? If anxiety about your investments is keeping you up at night, it’s a sign you should revisit your risk tolerance and review your accounts with a financial advisor. However, if your risk tolerance and goals are unchanged, then you may want to stay the course and ride out market volatility.
For more information on Columbus Community Hospital and our response to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Information and Resources page. Any questions? Contact us at 402-564-7118.
Chad Van Cleave is Vice President of Financial