By Michael Hall
As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world and across the U.S., staying physically healthy is a top priority. At the same time, you likely are juggling new challenges where your finances are concerned.
You’re also not alone. As of the second week of June, a record 44.2 million Americans had filed for unemployment as restaurants, retailers and other businesses shut their doors in an effort to support social distancing and help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 49% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck even before the pandemic, meaning they have little to no savings to cover unexpected emergencies. The number of Americans feeling financial strain is likely to climb even further as unemployment rates and economic uncertainty mount.
While the federal government still has not passed a second economic stimulus package designed to put more cash in the hands of many Americans, receiving one-time payments or expanded unemployment benefits is only a short-term solution. Making an emergency budget for the long-term can help if you’re experiencing tough financial times now or if you anticipate a job layoff or loss down the line.
Though it’s not an ideal situation, succeeding financially through this crisis may mean cutting back or cutting out certain expenses altogether to stay afloat. Reviewing your household budget should be a critical part of your coronavirus response strategy.
The first steps you should take right now to manage your budget wisely while awaiting a return to something like normalcy is evaluating your income and assets, Categorize Your Budget Expenses, Eliminate or Reduce Nice-to-Haves, Revisit Your Essential Spending, Boost Your Income, and Strive to Establish and Maintain an Emergency Savings.
Over the next few issues of the Spring Creek Sun, Hall will describe in detail how to follow through with each of these steps. The bottom line is that if your existing budget is fundamentally changed, it makes sense to take a deep breath, consider what options are available now and revise as needed.
Michael Hall is a financial counselor with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. As a financial counselor he helps individuals allocate their funds better, deal with debt, weigh in on legal options, and even save for a rainy day. If you’re in debt or have no credit and need help, a reputable credit counseling organization, like the Office of Financial Empowerment through NYC Office of Consumer Affairs might be able to help. To schedule a financial counseling appointment, go to: www.nyc.gov/talkmoney or call 718-636-6900 and ask for Michael Hall.