Author: <span class="vcard">Bill Santiago</span>

Take a look at your monthly expenses and find ways to cut back.

Subscription services that you’re being automatically billed and not being used regularly can be halted temporarily. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions, online movie streaming services, monthly subscription boxes – take an inventory of them and cancel.

For mortgage or rent, inform your lender or landlord

Many private and federal lenders are providing mortgage and rent relief options for tenants and homeowners. Informing them of your financial hardship (yes, you have to use that term), they might be able to provide forbearance. Forbearance is when your loan provider temporarily reduces or pauses your mortgage payments. Some property landlords might agree on reducing rents.

Get in touch with your bank

If you’re in trouble making loan and card payments, call them before they call you. It is always better to negotiate due dates or interest rates before defaulting to any of them. It is always best for companies that you’re taking a proactive approach rather than reactive. It may seem counterintuitive, but banks would rather help account holders than their accounts be sold to debt collectors.

Stay away from payday loans

You might be tempted to get a short-term payday loan but these high-interest lenders can trap you in a debt cycle. Their interest rates are commonly disguised as fees ranging from 300% to 500% annual percentage interest rate compared to banks or credit unions’ 10%-25%.

Communicate with your utility providers

Same with bank and your lenders, utility and service providers will be able to adjust their payment scheme if you ask (if they haven’t done so). Many are extending their payment period, suspending the disconnection of overdue accounts or ease their customer’s financial burden by offering deferred payment schemes.

Take advantage of community programs.

Many local government units and nonprofit organizations are conducting various programs to help their community. Feeding programs for the marginalized members, relief packs, and financial aid are given to those financially affected by the pandemic.

Look at job postings.

Despite lockdowns, there are still many businesses thriving. Many companies shift gears on the way they run their business. Papa John’s are hiring 20,000 team members as they continue to deliver meals and offer carryout. Amazon is opening 100,000 fulltime and part-time positions as e-commerce demand spikes.

Be flexible about new opportunities.

With many free times now in our hands, we can use this opportunity to learn a new set of skills or broaden what we already know by taking online trainings and workshops which are now mostly offered free by many institutions. Employees who can make a career pivot and take advantage of new opportunities will fare best at this time.

Bottom line: there are two things we need to focus on right now to manage our finance – one is about looking after our expenses, and the other is about ensuring money still comes in.

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The biggest negative impact that the pandemic created is the unemployment and massive layoffs happening globally. Millions of people have lost their job, and according to economists, the worst of the damage is yet to come. As expected, airlines, hotel operators, restaurants, and many small businesses are the biggest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees in these industries were forced to take unpaid leaves, cut their working hours, or completely lost their source of income. In the United States alone, job losses are predicted to cost 47 million jobs that translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate. Employees in the hospitality and restaurant sectors who are fortunate enough not to lose their job still reels from the economic fallout as most of them are paid hourly and rely heavily on tips given by customers. Many are now struggling to make ends meet.

The reaction of the stock market to COVID-19 is also unprecedented. Stocks around the world took a nosedive and as the market hit new lows, many are now asking if they should hold on to their stocks right now or sell. From a risk analyst’s point of view, the advice is not to watch the market every minute, probably for your peace of mind, too. Focus instead on the long-term strategy and possibly do an adjustment every three to twelve months. It makes sense to also look at the portfolio that may suffer from permanent or long-term losses due to the pandemic.

While the race to create the first vaccine for COVID-19 is on the way, the reality is that it might take a while to develop one. The pandemic probably would have peaked and declined before a vaccine will become available. Even if they manage to create a vaccine or an antiviral in the coming months, rolling them out to the public will take time.

For an optimist, this COVID-19 disruption will be temporary. Historically, the world’s economy will bounce back. Restaurants and malls will reopen, consumers will get back to consuming, and the stock market will rebound.

Below are some advice and suggestions on how we can weather unemployment, pay cut losses, business closures, and manage our finance during this economic crisis:

Apply for unemployment/business closure benefits

Governments around the world are providing financial assistance for employees who lost their job or small businesses impacted by lockdowns.

Tap your emergency savings if you have one

If you are one of the fortunate and disciplined individuals who built an emergency fund, this is now the right time to use them. That’s right, it’s time to go looking for that spare change under the mattress (or even buying a new mattress if you’re so inclined). I also recommend doing the other points mentioned in this list so you don’t need to drain your emergency fund as quickly.

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The effect of Coronavirus or COVID-19 to the world has been unprecedented. As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the globe, everyday routines are significantly shifting. From the way we work, do our groceries, and socialize, it made countless changes in our daily life.

Major sporting events have been canceled or postponed including the Summer Olympics. That’s a big deal! Except when during the world wars of 1916, 1940, and 1944 an Olympic postponement has never happened before. Many of the things unfolding right now never happened in recent modern times – flights halted, borders closed, forced work and study from home rules – it’s mind-boggling what this virus affected everyone.

To help “flatten the curve”, governments are asking all their citizens to maintain social distancing to help prevent further infections. Almost all countries already issued a national state of emergencies and few even took draconian measures such as lockdowns. The known cases of COVID-19 have now gone up to more than two million and 160,000 deaths.

If we’re lucky enough to be spared catching the virus, there’s no denying that its economic repercussions and impact on people’s finances will hit us one way or the other – some in major ways. Even with the financial stimulus given by the world’s governments, the global pandemic’s effect on personal finance is substantial. Based on a recent Pew Research Center survey, almost nine out of ten American adults say their personal life has changed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with 44% say their life has been affected in a major way.

The decision to close schools and daycares creates several problems in the community and the families impacted by it. For parents who can’t work from home – such as those employed in the health sector and working in industries that are considered essential – staying at home to be their children’s caretaker while school is out means the risk of losing their income. With no one to drop the children to, they can’t be left home unsupervised. And there’s the issue of food. In America, there are almost 30 million children that depend on the school lunch program and with no steps taken to continue to feed them, the thought that they will go hungry is heartbreaking.

One of the greatest dilemmas that most people worry about right now is their debt. With massive job losses and pay cuts across industries, their looming due dates for credit card payment, student loans, and other personal debts will still happen. Although many of these borrowers have been carrying the balance for more than a year and one might think they should be able to manage payments by now, the financial crisis disrupts their income, hence the risk of penalties is unavoidable for many. With interest rates that can be as much as 25%, missing even one payment can create compounding penalties.

For homeowners, the risk of homelessness and foreclosure are real. During the 2007 recession, many people lost their jobs that resulted in numerous defaults. This caused the housing market to plummet and created a ripple effect throughout the entire financial world. With the housing market crash looming again because of the Coronavirus, governments are urged to take action. In Italy, mortgage payments have been suspended for homeowners affected by the lockdown. Many banks and lenders across the world defer mortgage and loan repayments for up to three to six months for qualified customers. During this tough time, commercial and residential landlords also offer rent concessions or extensions to their tenants which brings financial relief.

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