It is May 2020 and this is a time for the record books – we are living history. Our children don’t realize it as much but as adults – we are well aware. There are several times in my life that I can remember something unprecedented happening. In the 1970s there was an oil crisis that placed huge demands on gas. I remember having to sit in line at a gas station ALL DAY LONG. Literally… We would get in line early in the morning, with packed lunches and sit, and sit, and sit. And we were only able to get in that line on an odd or even day based on odd/even day rationing. What I remember most was it was hot – the middle of summer. We couldn’t keep the car running because it would use the precious gas and over heat. So we sat for hours, in these vehicle hot boxes.
I can’t think of anything so memorable in my lifetime other than financial crisis situations tied to the stock markets. I suppose it all ties to the stock markets in some way or another. But now – we can see it coming and we can’t stop it from happening.
COVID19 came along and the world – not just the United States will never be the same. We have almost a complete shutdown of the economy going on 7 weeks now. Everyone has opinions on whether the economy should have shut down to try and keep millions from dying. At 7 weeks many states are reopening the economy because in part, they figure keeping it shut down any longer will cripple the states and nation – if they aren’t crippled already.
Individuals are hit hard. Some are laid off; some lost their jobs because their children are all home from school with no childcare and they need to be home; some are working and doing the jobs of three people as essential employees. Everyone is impacted. If you are still employed – your life has entirely changed. You may be working from home and on virtual meetings all day long while your children are also attending virtual school from home. Never before have we had almost universal stressful situations. No one is unscathed. Everyone has a story and struggles.
Financially we all need to take care. Even if you are still fortunate enough to work, it is clear the economy is going to take a long time to rebound. Protecting your assets is critical.
Where to begin:
If you are not working – apply for unemployment. You may be eligible even if you have traditionally been self employed.
Check with anyone you owe money to and see if they have a program to cut you a break. Check with cable, utilities, insurance, mortgage, student loans, etc… Saxton Associates can help with credit card debt.
Watch for your stimulus funding – determine if you are eligible; if you have not filed taxes in the previous year you need to file an application to put your “status” into the system so the IRS can figure out where to send the money.
Are you eligible for FMLA, FFCRA or the Paid Sick Leave Act?
Stretch Every Penny
Cut and/or reduce expenses everywhere you can – and plan on that lasting a long time. Stretch every penny you have.
Pick up some part time work or some side gigs. There are still many opportunities out there – not necessarily in your desired field but enough to get some income in. Keep in mind though that these options are probably considered essential which means you may be put into some high risk situations.
Learn New Skills
Learn new skills and quickly. Not that I am a fan of capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune but everyone needs to adapt. I know people who are making masks nonstop and at $5-$10 each that can bring in a decent side gig income for now. Of course the best situation is if you already have all the materials on hand.
Sell What You Can/Give What You Can
Sell anything you can. That may be a bit difficult if everyone is watching their pennies but you’d be surprised. And if you don’t think something will sell, give it away for free if you don’t need it. So many people are in need. Let’s help each other in any way we can.
Use What You Have
Use whatever you have – for us that means living out of our pantry. When COVID19 started becoming a concern we stocked up on shelf stable items. Thank goodness. Now so many things are scarce. There is the never ending struggle to find toilet paper. But also anything frozen, meats, baking items, and more. If you don’t have ideas – check out Fridge To Table. Type in the ingredients you have and voila – possible recipes.
Borrow What You Can
Borrow anything you can instead of buying it. Although we are all practicing social distancing – most people are home so much more. Give a shout out if you need something for a short period of time. Facebook is the perfect way to get this communication out – on your timeline or in appropriate groups.
If you are going out into stores you can use all the couponing, deals and steals tips out there. If you are not going into stores, it is hard to save money in that manner. We are in the not going into stores category.
Do you have children home from school? The schools should have meal programs and some are doing both breakfast and lunch up to seven days a week. United Way is also donating large amounts of food to families in certain areas. Not to mention traditional food banks and food pantries.
I am sure as time goes on this list will become so much larger. The economy is changing and the best tip I can give is to be as adaptable and flexible as possible. Remember your family, friends and neighbors. As communities we need to help each other get through this.