This is your quick guide to doing so, no matter how bad it seems right now.
It can be hard to look for silver linings when you’ve been stuck inside for so long, and this is even more true if you’ve lost your job or significant income due to the coronavirus. One positive, however, could be that this is a wakeup call to make better use of your time and money in case a similar crisis appears in the years to come.
Here are some tips you can follow to get back on your feet and ensure your family’s future is financially secure:
1. Get benefits related to the coronavirus outbreak.
The federal government took action to help people stay afloat during shutdowns in the form of stimulus checks and beefed-up unemployment benefits.
Stimulus checks under the CARES Act provide $1,200 to single adults with an adjusted gross income below $75,000. Married couples without children who earn less than $150,000 combined get $2,400. Qualifying children under the age of 16, meanwhile, can add $500 each to the check amounts.
You can still get stimulus checks for less than $1,200 if you are a single person who makes up to $99,000. A married couple without children can make up to $198,000 to still qualify for a smaller check.
The IRS will use your 2018 or 2019 tax filings to distribute these funds, so as long as you filed, you don’t have to do anything to receive it.
Beyond stimulus checks, you may also collect unemployment benefits from your state, plus $600 weekly if you lost your job, were furloughed, or quarantined due to the coronavirus.
2. Cut the fat from your budget.
Qualifying for coronavirus stimulus checks or unemployment benefits can help you stay on your feet during these tough times. To stretch that income or any savings you currently have, it’s best to eliminate unnecessary expenses such as eating (or now, ordering) out, monthly subscription services, and more.
3. Try to live within your means.
Do you now feel like you’re paying too much for your car? Is your rent or mortgage way out of your league due to COVID-19 job or income loss? If so, you may want to downgrade your car, home, or any other bill that you know will be tough to pay.
Downsizing or downgrading may be a tough pill to swallow, but being able to meet your monthly budget is better than worrying about how you’ll make payments on time.
4. Start building your emergency fund.
If you can, use some of your stimulus check to start stashing away money for a rainy day. As burdensome or boring as it may be to build an emergency fund, it can keep you from using credit cards or going into debt when tough times arise. And that can save you from financial ruin in the future.
5. Take an intense look at your employment/career.
There’s nothing worse than being told you can’t work because you’re “non-essential.” You may want to take this time to reevaluate your career and enter something new that not only pays more, but is also in high demand.
If you are satisfied with your position, you may be able to leverage this current climate into a more favorable working condition.
For instance, you could ask to start working from home more often, which can help you cut transportation or even childcare costs. Or, if you’ve stuck around while others decided to quit, you could leverage your loyalty into a raise or a promotion to boost your present and future finances.
6. Learn from this experience.
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on most of the world. Take it as a learning experience to see where your financial weaknesses are.
Do you need to save more? Have you found that expensive material things aren’t that important? Regardless of the lesson learned, use it to your advantage should another crisis appear somewhere down the line.