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Maintain your financial health during COVID-19 outbreak

AIESHA BANKS • Apr 9, 2020 at 10:45 PM

Many are experiencing an unanticipated loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even if you don’t catch COVID-19, you could be financially impacted by the fallout. The federal government has just passed an economic stimulus package designed to put cash in the hands of many Americans. Maintaining your financial health during this situation is necessary.

Remember, everyone is on edge due to this COVID-19 situation. Take action to build your emergency fund before the virus impacts you in any way. Learn how to save money in new ways. There are some ways that you can save money as you spend, starting with cashback apps. Cashback apps pay you back a percentage of your purchases in cash or rewards that can redeem for cash.

Steps that could ease your financial journey

Don’t panic and take control. When preparing a budget, you have two sides: What you spend and what you earn. If COVID-19 has already crushed what you receive in earnings, you will then have to figure out what your new baseline of income is. With that new baseline of revenue, you will know how deeply you’ll need to cut your spending. Two terms that will help you determine a budget are “wants” versus “needs.” Wants are what we desire, and needs are what we must have for basic survival.

Boost your emergency fund. If you are lucky enough to be working from home, then consider increasing your emergency fund. Take the money you generally use on impulse buying and consider putting it into a savings plan.

Look at what you have. Before you give in to the impulse to panic-buy everything, look at what you have at home. Go through your pantry and bathroom cabinets. If you have some goods on hand, then consider holding off on stocking up, and the community will thank you.

Keep a roof over your head. Without emergency funds, you could find yourself in dire straits very quickly. Contact your creditors and landlords as soon as you realize that you can’t make on-time payments. Before you make contact, prepare to explain your current situation and how much you can afford to pay at present. Also, consider when you believe you’ll be able to make a proper payment.

Take stock of your community resources

• Unemployment insurance

• SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

• Health services

• Legal assistance

• 2-1-1

If your existing budget fundamentally changes, it makes sense to take a deep breath consider what options are available. According to Forbes, if you’ve experienced a 50% pay cut, then that may correspond to cutting 50% or more of your regular spending.

Sharpen your survival skills

Use resources in new ways and cooperate with others to multiply your funds. Your survival skills work best when they are sharpened by thinking matters through and evolving a plan in which you can work together.

Lastly, be aware of fraud and scams and know your rights. During this period, your health is the No. 1 priority. You can and should do your best to stay healthy.

Looking for tools to help with your budget? Email me at the address below for your COVID-19 financial health survival kit.

Keeping our readers mentally and physically active is our goal! Healthy Kingsport’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts will be ramping up the effort to help people that are staying at home. Our social media platforms will also educate you to stay active, be engaged and eat well.

Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure, and influencing policy.

For more information, visit www.healthykingsport.org and www.uwaykpt.org/covid19.

Aiesha Banks is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org.

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