Over the last week several of my friends and family members have been laid off of work due to COVID-19. While no one wants to experience a loss of income, there are several things you can do to help protect yourself and your family financially.
What resources do you have?
First, it is important to know what resources you have when money gets tight. Make a list of your assets that could easily be converted to cash such as savings or checking accounts. Do you have any physical assets such as a car that could be sold quickly if you needed the money?
It is equally important to know where your money goes. Make a list of all your expenses such as rent and utilities. Additionally, determine if your expenses are fixed – occur regularly for a set amount (rent), flexible – occur regularly but the amount changes (electric), or discretionary – you determine how much (eating out).
Next, prioritize your expenses. Ask yourself what happens if you miss an expense? Missing a rent payment may result in eviction while you could avoid spending money on things you don’t need such as eating out.
Now, determine if your resources will be able to cover your expenses and for how long.
Not enough money to pay your bills?
If you determine that you will have trouble paying your bills or loans there may be options to help you. However, you must contact your lenders or creditors early on to let them know about your situation.
Be prepared to explain:
- Your current employment status
- How much, if anything, you can afford to pay
- When you think you will be able to restart regular payments
Lenders or creditors may be willing to waive fees or allow you to delay, adjust, or skip payments.
Avoid purchasing unnecessary items
Don’t spend money on things that are unnecessary. Make your needs your priority, instead of wants. Cut back on spending, especially on non-essential things. Cancel unused gym memberships or subscriptions. Resist stocking up on supplies that aren’t needed now. Plan meals ahead of time using food that you have on hand and only purchasing items you need.
Are you eligible for any benefits?
If you lost your income you may qualify for unemployment and other benefits. In Florida, you can apply for reemployment assistance benefits here: http://www.floridajobs.org/ you can also apply for food assistance here: https://www.myflorida.com/accessflorida/
Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for more information. Find your local office here: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/