While the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has begun, providing some hope to Americans that continue to feel the devastating economic impact of this pandemic, we also continue to face other challenges such as weather-related catastrophes. Many people, especially hourly employees, and those in the service industry, have been negatively impacted physically, financially, and emotionally as a result.
In response to the ongoing challenges, federal, state, and local governments, non-profit organizations and other community organizations are implementing programs in an effort to help address these issues.
While these programs are providing relief for some, it might not be enough to pay all the bills. It’s smart to have a plan in place to help manage your money, which may include income, a federal Economic Income Payment (commonly referred to as a stimulus check or payment), tax refund and/or bonus.
At the end of the day, food, clothing, and shelter are our basic necessities. These are the expenses we must incur to care for ourselves and our families. Research shows that most Americans used prior stimulus payments to cover these basic needs.
If you’re in a difficult financial position and there isn’t enough income to cover your basic needs, you can also consider exploring the following resources for help. No one should ever have to feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, especially given the challenges we have faced.
You can also check with USAA or other financial institutions you do business with to see if they can provide any assistance. USAA is encouraging members who’ve been financially impacted to reach out for help.
Also consider calling service providers to explore potential fee reductions or discounts, and if you owe medical payments, call your medical providers to see if you’re eligible for reduced service costs.
A budget helps give you control over your money as you navigate through life. It can also help you plan out how to best use any additional assistance or lump sums you may receive. As you review your budget, you may find some expenses that you could cut back on, or that you’ve already cut back on, for example, by not traveling or going out as much due to the pandemic.
If you don’t have a budget, you can create one either the old-fashioned pen and paper way, or by taking advantage of USAA’s enhanced features in the mobile app, which includes a free budget tool.
Ready to start? Consider following these steps:
Once you’ve established your budget, monitor your spending to ensure you stay within your income and available funds limit. With many budget tools, including the features within USAA’s mobile app, you can get an alert to notify you when you’re close to reaching your target spending amount.
Understandably, not everyone will have the time or ability to pursue other income options. For those who can, and need to supplement existing income sources, consider a part-time job you can do outside of your normal working hours. There are plenty of opportunities to explore, from ride share services, to food delivery, to jobs you can do from home over the phone or online.
Another option may be to take some time de-cluttering and selling items you no longer use or want. Go room-to-room in your home and gather items to sell. Once you have completed this step you can list the items online.
Every person’s financial situation is unique. While some are having trouble making monthly payments, others are able to cover their expenses. If you fall into the second category, consider setting aside some savings if you haven’t already. One financial lesson we can all learn from this COVID-19 pandemic is that anything can happen, and we need to be prepared. Money set aside in savings is one of the most important ways to be prepared.
If you already have money set aside in savings, and a steady income, you may look around and see ways to help your community. The need is certainly high right now. Local food banks, shelters and other community organizations are a great place to start when looking for ways to give back to those less fortunate.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that scammers view the global pandemic and associated resources, such as the Economic Impact Payments or stimulus payments, as an opportunity to take advantage of people. The FTC offers the following tips on its website:
USAA also offers some additional tips to help you identify and avoid scams.
When it comes to your finances, fear and panic are often the biggest threats. If you feel waves of anxiety — which is only natural — just remember to stick to your financial plan and leverage available financial resources, such as those discussed above or available through USAA.
USAA believes the websites and resources used to gather this information are reliable; however, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of the information.
All credit counseling services are provided by a member agency of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which is not part of or affiliated with USAA. All advice, tools, educational materials and representations are provided solely by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. USAA assumes no responsibility or liability for the suitability or accuracy of such information.
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