The U.S. coronavirus response is in full effect, and it’s turned the lives of many people upside down. Depending on where you’re living, you could be faced with various restrictions that may impact your ability to earn a living. In many states, bartenders and waitresses can’t go to work at all. Other common closures include gyms, movie theaters, and casinos.
Even if you’re not directly affected by the restrictions, reduced traffic and sales could be killing your paycheck if you work for commission or tips.
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U.S. lawmakers recently passed a bill to support workers impacted by COVID-19 with mandatory paid sick leave, but there’s a lot of grey area in the law. There’s no guarantee that this relief will trickle down to every corner of the economy. 1099 and self-employed workers are particularly vulnerable.
You can’t rely on the government to bail you out if the downturn starts to hit your paycheck. Worst-case scenario, you might not be getting paid at all until this thing blows over.
However, try not to get overwhelmed. Taking a few preemptive steps can go a long way towards helping you get through the outbreak with your finances in order.
Save, Save, and Save Some More
This might sound a little obvious, but it’s more true now that ever. Save your money! This is not the time to make extravagant purchases. Having a reserve of emergency funds can help you cope with unexpected disruptions to your cash flow.
Prioritize saving now because no one knows what to expect over the next couple of weeks. Save as much money as you can while you still have full paychecks coming in. That way, you’ll be prepared if things slow down over the coming weeks.
Pay Off Credit Cards
If you’re carrying large balances on your credit cards, it’s time to make some big payments. Credit cards have extremely high-interest rates, so it’s costing you a lot of money to carry those balances. Pay as much as you can now because you might find yourself strapped for cash over the next few weeks.
If the time-frame of China’s outbreak is any indication, we could be restricted for 6 to 8 weeks. If you find yourself really strapped for cash, you can always use your credit card to cover your expenses, so paying off as much of the balance as possible should be a priority.
Ask For Help
Many businesses are being very understanding in regards to the impact of the outbreak, so it never hurts to ask for a little help. If you don’t think you can afford to pay a bill, give the company a call. You might be surprised by the results. Many companies are offering their customers extra leeway during this time of crisis, including utility companies, banks, and more.
A little diplomacy never hurts and, worst-case scenario, they say ‘no’ and you’re no worse off than you were before you asked. The country is coming together and many businesses are willing to be flexible during this tough time.
Find a Side Gig
These days, It’s easy to make a few extra dollars working online. If the coronavirus outbreak has you stuck at home, it might be a good time to look for a side gig for yourself. You might be surprised at the multitude of jobs available.
There are tons of opportunities available on freelance marketplaces like Upwork, and you can find gigs on message boards like Craigslist, Reddit, and more. An online side gig could help you keep some cash flowing while you’re stuck at home.
Last but definitely not least, don’t panic! This entire ordeal has been nerve-racking and it’s far from over, but the worst thing you can do is lose your cool. Make the best out of the extra time at home by reading, exercising, or catching up on your favorite hobbies. This all will pass, eventually, so freaking out will not do you any good. It’s important that you make rational decisions and follow instructions from the authorities.
The economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak are disrupting the lives of millions of Americans but, with a little preparation, you can put yourself in a better position to get through the next few weeks. Get your finances in order as best you can, follow instructions, and – most importantly – don’t panic.