Our country is going through a crisis that is affecting millions of our fellow citizens. Only a few folks are not being affected and touched by the coronavirus pandemic. If have had a drastic cut in pay or even worse, you are out of work you are not alone. If this has been going on for a few months, your savings are dwindling, and you may be in a situation where you are starting to choose which bills to pay. In this article, we will provide some tips that may help alleviate the situation to some degree.
Keep a positive attitude
As difficult as it may be when times are tough, one important requirement to make it through this ordeal is to keep a positive mental attitude. There are many ways to reset and stay grounded. One useful exercise is to consciously list out three things that you are grateful for in each given day. It could be as simple as having a good meal and the simple hello that your neighbor gave you. Focusing on these positive events will help you keep a positive mindset. It’s even better if you write these items down and start keeping a journal of them.
Realistically assess your current situation
It is possible that before the pandemic hit, you had a decent job and you could afford to treat yourself and maybe even spoiling yourself. If your income situation has changed drastically, do not make the mistake of spending as you were before and cut your spending drastically as well. It’s tempting to dip into savings or use your credit cards to keep your previous lifestyle. However, you are much better off adapting to this new current reality as quickly as possible as keep some dry powder for the uncertainty that is still in front of us. Ideally, you will be able to soon get a job with similar pay to what you had previously, but things are still pretty shaky and even if you get a new job, it may not come with the same pay and perks that you had previously.
Create a budget
Start by writing down in a spreadsheet what your current expenses are and then classifying them by “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves”. Next for the expenses that must stay, see how they may be cut. For example, you may be able to get a better cell phone deal than what you currently have. You will be amazed how quickly it may be possible to start saving simply by taking stock of your expenses and visualizing where savings can be had. Another positive outcome from this exercise will most likely be that your stress will start going down.
Cut back on your expenses
We touched on this briefly in the previous point. If your income has taken a drastic hit, there is no doubt that your expenditures need to go down dramatically quickly as well. The budget you created in the previous step should yield candidates to target to cut this spending. Some candidates for closer inspection are:
- Cable bill
- Telephone bill
- Restaurant bill
You may be surprised to find that you can cut your expenses by a few hundred dollars a month from performing this exercise. Slightly longer term, once your lease is up you may want to move to a smaller place to further cut back your expenses. A more drastic move and assuming you still have quite a while on your lease, you may be able to negotiate with your landlord to let you out of your lease.
Procuring additional income
If you been out of work for a while, you may want to consider finding additional sources of income or a part-time job, even if it’s something you have not done before. This additional cash can help with your cash flow and not forcing you to cut expenses so drastically. Luckily, the disruption of the economy has created new opportunities that can be leveraged to provide that additional boost. Some examples are:
- Uber driver
- Amazon deliveries
- Freelancing for Upwork and Fiverr
A budget shortfall can be fixed by cutting expenses or increasing your income. So, exploring this option will help you tackle your budget short-fall from the other direction while you focus on your expense cutting.
Take advantage of federal, local, and state government COVID relief programs
During these difficult times, the government has set up a wide variety of programs to help people out during these difficult times. Some of the programs available are:
- Extended unemployment benefits
- Mortgage forbearance
- Student loan forbearance
- Rent assistance
- Assistance with utilities
- Food assistance
In many jurisdictions, it is possible to dial 2-1-1 and find out more about the help available and the many COVID-19 relief programs at your disposal.
Stay focused on your job search
One that is clear from the pandemic is that many industries and businesses will never be the same long after the pandemic is over. Some industries have thrived, and some will come out weaker and perhaps whither and die. An example of this is the movie industry. Most likely movie theaters will take a long time to get back to their pre-COVID attendance numbers if they ever do. In the meantime, it seems that every day a new streaming service appears. If you were employed by one of the industries that may not make it unscathed after the pandemic, make sure to start preparing for a job switch. It will most likely take a lot of effort, so be smart and deliberate about the switch. Fortunately, there are a lot of free and inexpensive resources online that can help you train and study to perform this job switch.
A job search is a job and it should be treated as such. Stay disciplined and focused by keeping a daily routine as you are looking for that coveted new job. And last but least, remember, this too shall pass.