You may be a few days into the Kansas City stay at home order due to COVID-19. You most likely have burned through most of your quarantine bucket list, already binge-watched a series, or decluttered every nook and cranny in your house.
Another thing you can do while you are at home? Get your finances in order.
This is a weird and uncertain time for all of us. A lot of people are losing jobs and others are unable to work due to the nature of their job. It is important right now to evaluate your financial situation and make some changes, even if it’s just temporary.
Here are nine tips to get you started:
1. Figure out all of your expenses
Go through your bank and credit card transactions for the last couple of months. Where is your money going? Make a list of all the expenses and bills you have to take care of.
2. Cancel, unsubscribe, pause
Now take that list and mark which things you can break up with or hit pause on. This could be gym memberships, subscription boxes, streaming services, etc. These can be little ankle biters that add up to expensive monthly costs.
3. Take care of your “four walls”
Your top four priorities to spend money on are food, utilities, shelter, and transportation. Make sure those items are taken care of first before anything.
4. Take note of which bill due dates are being extended
If you don’t have a steady paycheck coming in currently, go through all of your bills and find out which companies and businesses are delaying bills for this month. Has the due date for your phone bill been extended to May? Write it down so you don’t forget and allow yourself to pause. Student loan interest has been suspended temporarily, so it’s okay to delay paying that right now. Just be mindful that everything will have to be paid eventually.
5. Learn how to budget and actually do it
This is the key step. A lot of people think that living on a budget is only for people who are broke or when money is tight. But in all actuality, it’s just a plan for your money telling it where to go and giving you permission to spend. Learn how to do it and then actually stick to it every month.
6. Build an emergency fund
Depending on your financial and work situation right now, this is an important thing you should be doing: stockpiling money. This gives you peace of mind, especially during times like this.
7. Get a temporary job
If you experienced reduced hours, a job loss, or are unable to work due to the nature of your job, consider applying for a job even if it’s just for this season of uncertainty. Search for which companies are hiring. A lot of businesses are seeing an uptick in business and need extra help, such as grocery stores, delivery services, and technology companies such as Zoom.
8. Start a side hustle
Think about what you are good at and what skills and talents you possess. Could you teach someone else these things? Spread the word among family and friends and ask them to help spread the word too. You don’t need to build a fancy website and have a huge marketing plan. Sign people up, conduct a class through Zoom or another video-streaming service, and have them Venmo their payment to attend.
9. Look into resources, services—and aid
If you qualify, apply for unemployment. If you run a small business, look into the Small Business Administration to see if you qualify for any sort of assistance. Then, submit your business information on stayhomekc.com to let others know how they can support you. Look into non-profit and charity organizations, libraries, and school districts to see what they are offering as means of support that can help you with your financial situation.
This truly is an unprecedented time for all of us. Please be kind to yourself and others, and try to stay as positive as you can. Please don’t let fear or anxiousness influence you to go into debt. We will get through this together.
—Rachel Pedersen is a Kansas City native living a debt-free life helping others learn money skills they were never taught. Learn how to take control, build habits, and gain financial wellness at three-pennies.com. If you like bright colors, cute pups, and fun, then you should follow her on Instagram (@rachelnpedersen).