3,958 Views

Across our great nation, families are being impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re a servicemember whose spouse just lost their job, a small-business owner who’s been forced to close your doors, or a USAA employee whose spouse just took a big pay cut, none of us are immune to the impact.

 

My wife works in health care. Three of my co-workers have spouses in health care as well. All of us have recently been impacted financially as a result of the pandemic, from furloughs to pay cuts to stopping 401(k) matches — something we did not anticipate for the healthcare industry during a global health pandemic.

 

When my wife received a phone call on April 14 that her job was being impacted, we feared the worst— a furlough or complete lay off. I’m not sure we’ve ever been happier to hear “you are taking a pay cut” than at that moment. I wish I could say it stopped there, but the next day her employer announced there would be no bonuses and no more 401(k) match. Still, we felt thankful for her continued employment.

 

Since my household has now been impacted financially, I want to share how we are coping. My hope is that some of these tips might help others. I won’t pretend my situation is just like everyone else’s — I know that many have been impacted much more severely — but I am optimistic that we can take the following steps to soften the financial blow.

 

  1. Review your budget. After my wife received the news from her employer, we sat down together to go through our budget. We adjusted her income and then looked at every expense, line by line. We eliminated things like our entertainment allowance (easier to do when staying at home), cut some of our online streaming services, eliminated gifts to others, slightly modified our charitable giving, and looked for anything else that was not a required monthly bill. Fortunately, we had planned to be able to cover required expenses, like our mortgage, on one income and had paid off both vehicles recently. Speaking of the vehicles, not much gas is being used right now — and vehicle maintenance won’t be needed as we stay home — so that helps with cash flow.
  2. Put plans on hold. The boss (my wife) and I had planned to do some home improvements and take a trip, but obviously those things will be put on hold. Right now, we’re just glad to be able to cover our basic expenses, so waiting seems less painful.
  3. Ask lots of questions. What does the pay cut mean? How long will it last? Is there a chance of another pay cut or furlough if this continues? These are the types of questions my wife asked her employer. I’ve also been asking my employer “what-if” questions, as things can obviously change the longer this goes on.
  4. Understand unemployment. We immediately visited our state’s unemployment website to familiarize ourselves with the filing process, who qualifies, how long it takes, our state’s policy on partial unemployment, and how the federal $600/weekly benefit works as part of the CARES Act package. We are fortunate that we don’t need to file at this point, but it is good to know in case our outlook changes.
  5. Have a family discussion. Everyone in your family needs to be on the same page to make your new budget work. We sat down with our kids, let them know the situation, and assured them we will be OK. On a positive note, it provided an opportunity for a good needs-versus-wants conversation.

 

Additional Resources

 

Many families are facing devastating situations, from losing their income completely to dealing with extreme health care challenges. In response, a lot of service providers and creditors are willing to help. (See USAA’s coronavirus response.) In addition to contacting your service providers and creditors, explore the following resources. 

 

shutterstock_710906455.jpgNational Foundation for Credit Counseling

Veteran’s Affairs Administration

Small Business Administration

Military and Family Readiness Centers

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CARES Act

Five Ways to Protect Your Financial Wellness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Four Tips for an Economic Stimulus Check

COVID-19 Lockdown: How to Stay Calm and Carry On (At Home)

Understanding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

5 Tips for Weathering Financial Hardships During COVID-19

 

Take care, be safe and try to find the good among the bad during this situation. My wife and I have been enjoying walks in the evening when the weather cools down — a new ritual for us. So, while I hope the financial changes are only temporary, there are other steps (no pun intended) I hope to take into the future.

 

USAA believes the websites and resources used to gather this information are reliable; however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of the information.

 

270814 - 0420