Many people are feeling a strain on their finances due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether you have been laid off, furloughed or your hours have been reduced and your income is lowered, you need to take some steps now to manage your finances in the midst of this financial crisis. So many things are out of our control - but there are several ways that you can lower your expenses and make money working from home so read on to learn what you can do now to get yourself in a better financial situation.
Apply For Unemployment
If you have been furloughed or laid off, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits. Check your state’s requirements online to see if you qualify to apply for unemployment. Gather any necessary documents you may need for the application, such as your driver's license, social security card and information about your recent employers, dates worked and wages. Each state’s required information to apply may be different, so check your state’s unemployment benefits website to get more information.
Contact Your Creditors
You should contact each creditor you have an open account with, such as mortgage loan, auto loan, student loans, credit cards or any other credit account with a balance. Give each lender a call and explain your situation and the financial hardship you are experiencing and ask what options are available. They may be able to suspend your loan or waive interest for a period of time due to the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. It doesn’t hurt to ask, so do yourself a favor and pick up the phone. You may experience long wait times to speak to a representative, but have patience because if the lender is able to adjust your payments or suspend them, it can really lower your monthly expenses.
Contact Utility Companies
Many electric and water utility companies are providing people affected by Coronavirus options that will help them during this hardship. Some companies are allowing users to extend payment due dates and waive late fees. Most companies are promising they will continue providing services even if you are unable to make your payments. Get peace of mind and simply call your utility providers or login to their websites to see what options are available to you.
Create A New Monthly Budget
Even if you have a monthly budget, you should create a new one to reflect any changes in income that you may be experiencing due to the ongoing situation. Identify all sources of monthly income, if any. Log all expenses from the past calendar month and categorize them so you can identify what you’re spending your money on. Your categories can include home (mortgage or rent, water bill, power bill, etc.), food, fun, auto and any other categories that may help you organize your expenses. This is easier if you use credit or debit cards to pay for everything since you can use your online statements.
The next step is to identify which categories you can cut costs from, which is detailed below, and to decide how much you need to spend in each category on a monthly basis. Remember that the point of this is to understand where your money is going and figure out how you can save more money or pay your bills if you have lost some streams of income. Check out this article for more details about how to create a monthly budget and to download our Monthly Budget Excel Spreadsheet.
Reduce Your Spending
Using the spreadsheet you created with all of your expenses from the last month, go through each item and consider if it is a necessary expense. Wants are different from needs and even needs like food expenses can be reduced. Consider grocery shopping at less expensive stores and using coupons. Also think of cost-efficient meals rather than your usual meals. This is the time to strap down and cut expenses so identify subscription services that you can cut and other costs that are not absolutely necessary during this financial crisis. Learn even more ways to reduce your spending by reading 9 Ways You're Losing Money Without Even Realizing It.
Make Money From Home
If you or a family member are no longer working, find ways of making money from home. We are all supposed to be minimizing our time outside of our homes, so take advantage of the situation and make some money while you’re stuck inside. There are endless sites where you can make money from your couch or dinner table, you just need to have a computer or smartphone and internet. Here are a few sites that allow you to make money from the comfort of your home:
Swagbucks: Answer surveys and watch videos to earn cash and gift cards. You can also get paid for shopping online and searching the web. They currently have a $10 sign up bonus.
UserTesting: This is one of the most popular online testing sites. Websites like Walmart and Home Depot use this company to get real people to perform certain actions on their website and provide feedback. Most test sessions take about 20 minutes and pay $10 and you get paid via PayPal.
ClearVoice: This site connects companies in need of content (articles, case studies, ebooks, infographics and more) with freelance writers. After you create an account you will upload your CV and complete your profile to get matched with companies. You decide what you get paid for each assignment and you get paid via PayPal.
This is a stressful time for many of us but you are able to take action now in order to get in a better financial situation. Commit to managing your finances by making a budget, cutting costs and making money from home so you are better prepared to deal with the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.
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