By Coach Fin
Everyone has been affected one way or another since stay-at-home orders were issued. If you’ve lost your job or closed your business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, help is available through government assistance or financial institutions that are willing to work with you. If you have full or reduced income, you might be thinking about ways you can gain more control of your personal finances. Here are some ideas.
1. Master digital banking
Whether you’re new to online banking or have been using it for a while, now is the time to explore more features. Are you taking advantage of all the digital tools that can make managing your account even quicker and easier?
Mobile and text banking gives you a grip on your finances from anywhere. Pay bills or transfer funds on the fly. You can even make mobile deposits without visiting a branch, drive-thru or ATM. Just sign in and snap a picture of your check.
2. Boost your money know-how
Financial literacy means how well you understand and manage financial matters. The more you know, the more confident you’ll be in money matters: household budgets…loans and mortgages…college savings and investments. There’s always something new to learn — and there’s never been a better time to brush up. Free online tools like the Cinfed Financial Education Center offers quick, bite-sized courses that are easy to digest.
3. Pay down debt
Many people are thinking about their financial foundations in a new light, given how quickly things can change. It’s important to continue paying down credit cards and loans. If you’re able to, increase your monthly payments so that you can pay off debts sooner. This will save you money on interest, raise your credit score and give you peace of mind.
4. Stop “leaks” to build emergency savings
Since people have been spending more time at home, many have discovered they are “leaking” money. Grocery runs that turned into home decor upgrades. Daily coffees or dinners out. Maxed-out cable packages. How can lessons from shelter-in-place life help you fund your emergency (or other) savings going forward? Shuttle funds you used to “leak” into your savings. Some examples:
- Continue grocery delivery, eliminating impulse buys.
- Eat home or bring your lunch more often.
- Cut the cable and use streaming services, read more, or stick to that new
- Stop long-forgotten subscriptions on auto withdrawal.
- Enjoy a new hairstyle by embracing your longer locks or natural shade.
- Think about which wardrobe or tech upgrades are needs vs. wants.
- Wash clothes in cold water and/or hang dry them to save on utilities.
- Make your own household cleaners.
5. Watch out for scams
Sadly, fraudsters are quick to adapt, even to capitalize on a crisis. Be extra cautious about phone calls, texts and emails you receive, no matter how convincing they seem. Protect your personal information and be wary of clicking links. Whether you receive messages that are coronavirus related or claim to be from the IRS, stay alert to the clues that point to a scam.
6. Talk to a coach
If you have questions, please call your local Cinfed branch and talk to a financial coach. They can explain your financial support options related to COVID-19. You can also learn more about accounts, personal loans, mortgages and other solutions.