The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all our lives, in a huge number of ways. Unfortunately, many people are now fearing unemployment or have already been asked to leave their job. In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that the economy was operating with around 15 million fewer jobs as compared to the beginning of the year, and the Pew Research Center notes that unemployment rates in the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis were higher than during the entire two years of the late 2000s Great Recession.
Job insecurity is an extremely tough situation to find yourself in, but there are a number of community and online resources ready to provide assistance. If you’re in need of financial help due to unemployment, check out this summary of useful resources and tips; and don’t forget to visit HUECU online to see what financial support the Credit Union can offer, including temporary relief on consumer loans and credit card payments.
Handling the Bills
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when the monthly bills arrive, especially if you’ve recently been let go from a job. Keep in mind that many people are facing these exact same difficulties, which has prompted a good number of utility companies, credit card providers and other organizations to create more flexible payment policies. The most important thing is to not ignore your bills. Keep close track of what you owe and match it against your monthly budget. If there’s a payment that’s simply impossible to make, get in touch and explain your situation. There’s a good chance that a payment-delay policy may already be in place.
Making Loan Payments
If you’re a student loan borrower, there’s some good news. The CARES Act, signed into law in March, provides relief for all federal student loan borrowers by automatically stopping your payments through September 30, 2020. This suspension of payments should already be helping you to manage your monthly finances a bit more easily. The CARES Act also provides various relief measures to other kinds of borrowers, including homeowners who may be struggling to make regular mortgage payments in the face of job loss, so be sure to check out your options online and see what’s applicable to you.
Everyday expenses like gas and groceries can really add up when you’re not bringing in a steady paycheck. If you’re finding it difficult or even impossible to get your basic needs met, it’s time to get help. Visit a local food bank or check with religious organizations in your area, which can be a great resource to offer direct support or point you towards appropriate assistance. You may also be entitled to benefits via the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap to learn more, or get in touch on the SNAP hotline at 1-800-221-5689.
For many people in the United States, losing a job means losing access to health insurance. Amongst the many financial concerns that crop up with unemployment, healthcare is one that’s critical to address. If you’re married, you may be eligible to join your spouse’s plan. Another option is to sign up for health coverage via your state’s insurance marketplace, which can also help you access a financial hardship subsidy to help pay for premiums. Finally, check your eligibility to join Medicaid, which provides free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans based on their income or particular healthcare needs. You can visit www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/ to see if you qualify.
Preparing for the Future
A good budget is useful to have at any time, and critical to have in the midst of a global crisis. If your future job prospects are uncertain, it’s extra important to make a realistic financial plan for the upcoming weeks and months. Now is the time to start budgeting – which means taking a good long look at outgoing expenditures, mapped against any income you’ve still got flowing into your bank account. Check the numbers and see where costs can be cut, keeping in mind the loan and bill forgiveness options mentioned earlier in this article. Budgeting resources online or a budgeting app will be useful in calculating your expenses and brainstorming new ways to save money at this tricky financial time.