Our family is on day #13 of our self-quarantine or social distancing during the Coronavirus or COVID-19 worldwide outbreak. There are millions of families that have lost some form of income and millions of small businesses at risk just in the United States alone, let alone worldwide.
While we are all in a world-wide quarantine and making sacrifices for the health of our fellow man (which is amazing to see the world’s sacrifices for the safety of others – brings tears to our eyes!), there are some very important financial moves you can make right now that will not only stabilize and perhaps even improve your finances, it will also help the finances of your your fellow man at the same time.
“…there are some very important financial moves you can make right now that will not only stabilize and perhaps even improve your finances, it will also help the finances of your your fellow man at the same time.”
The goal here is to protect your own family’s finances as much as possible, even with lost income, while also supporting those around you.
This is not comprehensive by any stretch, so we welcome more ideas and thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas for the thrifty community here reading this article!
We are going to cover the follow topics:
You can click on any of these to be taken right to that topic
- Refinance Mortgage
- Consolidate Credit Cards
- Call To Negotiate Interest Rate or Defer Payment on Bills and Credit Cards
- Fund Emergency Fund
- Start the 2% Rule To Get Debt Free Fast For Debt OR Savings Goals!
- Invest (even small)
- Smart Shopping
- Support Local Restaurants and Businesses
- Keep Local Business Memberships
- Clean Out House and Find Things To Sell
- Start a Side Business or Side Hustle
- Further Education and Update LinkedIn Profile
- Defer Mortgage, Rent and Student Loan Payments
- Find Financial Aid
- Plan Your Next Vacation(s)
You might wonder how this will help you, and not everyone will qualify, but you might want to do this while before income loss catches up!
According to NerdWallet.com:
“The worse the COVID-19 outbreak gets, the lower mortgage rates will go.
That’s the mortgage rate forecast for March, in a nutshell: If COVID-19 becomes an epidemic in the United States, then rates on home loans are likely to fall even further.
In NerdWallet’s daily surveys, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.37% APR on Feb. 28, a decline of 38 basis points in just one month. (A basis point is one one-hundredth of a percentage point.) It marked the lowest rate on the 30-year fixed since NerdWallet’s daily survey began in May 2016.“
Mortgage rates are falling currently, but that can also change even overnight. So it’s a really good idea to look at this option and get rates locked in asap to save you money monthly.
Although we would always prefer a 15 year or 10 year loan so you can pay it off fast, in the case where incoming income can vary, we would probably recommend a 30 year so your payment is overall lower. Then during better financial times, apply these 4 Strategies to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster.
But this also gives you a bit more liquidity with your cash if your mortgage payment is lower for those leaner times (like a temporary job loss from a pandemic!).
Additionally, refinancing also generally means that you can defer payments by a month naturally, which may be just enough time for you to get your job back after this pandemic and start getting a regular paycheck again.
Consolidate Credit Cards
This is a great time to consolidate credit cards and get those 0% balance transfer cards. Paying interest each month is a total waste. This will defer your interest for a time while money may be lean, but be careful to not use your credit cards for everyday spending, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The goal here is to lower your overall monthly expenses, not increase debts. But we also know that times of emergency may call for a temporary use of credit cards, just be careful and use the 0% balance transfer options to your advantage and not frivolously use it for more debt.
Call to Negotiate Interest Rate or Defer Payment on Bills and Credit Cards
This is a GREAT thing to do regardless of a a pandemic or not. But a pandemic time period might make your creditors more sympathetic and willing to help you out more than other times. We haven’t tried it as we don’t have any left, but it’s just a guess.
However, when we were deep in debt, we got lots of experience negotiating. We wrote an article about how to negotiate your bills including credit cards and medical bills.
Check out these articles (click on the image) for the tips and steps to lower your interest rates and/or balances:
Fund Emergency Fund
If you are going to “store” money anywhere, it should probably be in your emergency fund. This is a great time to try and quickly fully fund your emergency fund or refill your fund if you have used any of it without replenishing – now is the time to do so. You may need it, so you need to have a stash of fast cash available.
If you want to know our thoughts on how much should I put in an emergency fund? we would recommend reading an article we previously wrote on this topic. Note that we do not think a “one-size-fits-all” fund is sufficient. You will need to do just a bit of math to find out what your fund should be.
Check out this article on Emergency Funds:
Start the 2% Rule To Get Debt Free Fast for Debt OR Savings Goals
Have you heard of the 2% Rule To Get Debt Free Fast? It’s a system that we created to help families pay off their debts and meet their financial goals in a shorter, but less painful, time!
This is a WONDERFUL time to start this program and get on track financially without a huge lifestyle change overnight (we’ve already had enough of those!) and allows you to get on track to your financial goals. Paying off debt really should be at the financial forefront of anyone’s mind, but in a time of pandemic, it’s not the right time to be shoving it down anyone’s throat!
However, the 2% Rule To Get Debt Free Fast is a method that no matter pandemic or not, we don’t shove anything down your throats, but help you ease into a lifestyle with small changes and positive habits that allow you to pay of your debts much quicker with much less pain.
We would encourage you to grab the book, read it over the next few days (it’s an easy read) and the get started!
Please reach out to us if you have questions!
Invest (Even Small)
If we have learned anything from the financial history of our country and world, it is that when the market is low from emergencies, panic, pandemics, etc., it’s a great time to buy as the market will swing up again, even if it takes a few years. So investing when it’s low is smart. I think most have learned to not panic and sell but instead take advantage and buy!
The smart simple key is buying when markets are down is buying when prices are low.
Even if you invest just $100, it’s a start! But determine what you can completely comfortably do and use really cool apps like these that allow you to even invest $1!
We will share the list below with investing bonuses:
- Acorns helps you invest your spare change so it goes to good use. It’s very easy to set-up but it will automatically invest whatever amount you want. We invest about $50 per month just on this one app! Get a FREE $5 to invest HERE. Find out more information HERE.
- Stockpile is another easy, affordable and easy “penny stocks” type of app to use. In fact, not only do we have accounts, but our kids do as well too! You can read about Stockpile HERE and claim a FREE $5 investment bonus HERE just by downloading the app and creating an account.
- Robinhood is the last one that is another investment app for the rest of us! When you use this link, Robinhood will give you 1 Free Share of stock in a popular company right now. This is just for registering, which is completely free to do so and claim this gift!
In fact, if you utilize the unique features and free bonuses from each one, you will have a nice overall investment bonus in a down market when the stocks are priced low = great long term investment!
We would say there is no reason not to use all of them, but even just starting with one option is better than none. You can get started now.
We just wanted to throw this in there. After seeing the panic shopping, especially in our current state of Utah, it’s high time that we say “calm down” and don’t go panic buying up everything. It’s not a great investment and it doesn’t allow for the supplies to be available for others, just making this whole pandemic experience even more painful.
Some of you may have a handful of cash tied up in toilet paper instead of something cool and long term like the emergency fund, or the stock market.
Smart shopping right now is to be a normal consumer. And in fact, the world needs you to be a normal consumer and keep your every 2-week normal shopping trip, keep eating out by purchasing from your local restaurants and picking it up.
Just shop like your normally would. No need to change anything here or panic in any way. You are just wasting money when you do.
Support Local Restaurants and Businesses
This leads us into our next point. And this next point will help you keep your sanity in quarantine, but keep the world going round. There is no doubt economies worldwide will take a hit from this pandemic. But you can lessen the economic curve, while flattenening the health curve, but supporting your businesses still and ESPECIALLY the local, small, ma and pa businesses.
They need you!
Buy from them online, or do whatever you need to be able to direct some of your spending to the little guys. PLEASE!
Do your small part economically to patronize them virtually or from a safe distance from others.
Keep Local Business Memberships and Services
And along the same lines, if you have a membership, music lessons or anything else that supports your local economy that is based on a monthly service fee, now is NOT the time to cancel. Even if you can’t take full advantage of the service they normally offer, please don’t cancel. Just eat it and be thankful that they are a small local business.
For example, we have a very small, very local crossfit gym. They are staying open and just trying to clean like crazy. We personally are not comfortable going during this time as we don’t want to be responsible for any spreading, but we won’t cancel even if we can’t use the service for a month or two. This is a family’s small business and our small monthly fee is not worth them losing their business. Obviously, just us canceling for a couple months likely wouldn’t put them out of business, but it probably wouldn’t take many people doing this to do so.
Also, two of our kids take music lessons from an older lady that has lung cancer. She is amazing about being flexible with our busy travel schedule and already adjusts our payments according to our planned travels. Well, we are totally not comfortable with our kids going during the quarantine to put her at any risk at all. But we will not be asking for reimbursements or make-up lessons. This is her only source of income.
Please keep these businesses and people in mind and while your making big sacrifices to stay home and potentially even losing a job or business yourself, you can understand the importance of doing what you can if you can.
Clean Out House and Find Things To Sell
Make a good use of your time at home to get your home organized, cleaned out and in good working order!
And in that process, find things you could get rid of and sell! This will help the community overall where you can bless someone else with something they need for much less, while you help bring in some income during this time. Just practice safe and healthy practices in the selling process and use apps like Venmo to make the touchless transactions, etc.
In fact, we are doing a 30-day organizational challenge live right now.
Start a Side Business or Side Hustle
Have you ever thought how much you would like to use your hobby, skillset, time or other resources to be able to offer a product or service to earn a little extra on the side?
Well, what better time than now! You may have some extra time on your hands and the need to bring in extra income may be right at hand. So it is a good idea to look at starting a side business or side hustle right now!
If you don’t know what a side hustle is, you will want to check out this article:
Most people can start with very little investment into their side hustle for a low-risk, near-immediate return. The world of side business or side hustles is HUGE that there is no way we can even begin to cover the topic here but we want to provide some resources to browse and research what you need to do:
- Read the list of over 130 Ideas on How to Make Money on the Side
- Listen to the podcast Take Back Your Finances. Listen to the recent episodes for ideas on side hustles
- Join our Side Hustles Facebook group where we are exploring side hustle ideas
- Check out a few of the past articles we have written on this topic
Again, this topic is so big that we are trying to spend some time this year exploring and focusing on this, but of course, got derailed with the Coronavirus that the topics on our blog changed temporarily, but there’s a lot to explore and you can find something to start tomorrow!
Further Education and Update LinkedIn Profile
Right now, this could be one of the easiest ways for you to change your future.
First, go into LinkedIn and update your profile (or start one) and start marketing yourself through this platform.
Second, find some free or discounted educational resources to further your skillset and make yourself more “promotionable.”
The workforce will get back to normal. Although the national debt could follow into the next generation, work will resume and if you better yourself through furthering education, additional certifications and more, you are more marketable and can possibly get a promotion or better job!
Spend this time for an amazing opportunity to do this. We are doing this in our own family.
For example, many universities are offering free classes and as you are taking them, have an opportunity to receive a certificate for a low fee. Many of these are Ivy League schools, but almost nearly all universities are offering something like this right now especially.
Our daughter is taking classes on neuroscience from online lectures on the subject that are sponsored by Harvard and a Harvard professor. She will not come out with a degree, but as she is taking the course, she has the opportunity to take a test after each unit and pay $99 for a certificate and test. For the Neurology Class, she will have three areas of study that she can get a certificate to add to her LinkedIn profile. She’s only 16, but this has been a wonderful experience thus far.
Also, our other daughter, who is 15, is taking python programming courses through Coursera. You can work at the pace you want and pay $50 per month. When you complete a course, you will get a certificate (again to add to her LinkedIn profile). They have TONS of options, including full degrees in many areas. This is a wonderful way to expand skillsets and get certified in many ways. This is the easiest, most affordable way to just to jump in!
Right now, there are thousands of higher education options that are cheap and free, along with many K12 resources more than ever right now. We thought about writing an article compiling many ideas, but it just got out of control and there are thousands, that it was unreasonable to attempt it. However a google search or search on Facebook or inquiring with your Facebook friends, you will probably get dozens of ideas and options.
But as a final example, from a Google search, I saw that Shaw Academy was offering 4 weeks of instruction for free. After that, it is $39 per month. Many certificates can be acquired in 4 weeks of instruction = one free certificate. So myself and our 15 year old daughter are taking a graphics design course. It is a 4 week program, with two 2-hour classes per week and by the end will be issued a certificate in graphic design. I am a digital marketer, but one skill I lacked was the ability to do my own graphics. I can do the basics, but anything more complex or professional, I would hire out or have a team member that would assist me. I want the ability to market myself better as a marketer by being able to create my own designs.
That is a VERY small taste of what is out there right now! Go find something that complements what you currently do to expand those skills!
Defer Mortgage, Rent and Student Loan Payments
This is a growing solution that banks and lending institutions around the globe are working through.
In the United States, at the time of writing this post, lawmakers were in the process of passing a $2 Trillion Stimulus package in the wake of the coronavirus’ impact on the current economy. As such, banks and lending institutions may not just voluntarily provide options, but they simply may be required to. However, interest may not be deferred in all situations, so just be aware of that.
As this subject unfolds, we will share more, but a great place to start to find out if you qualify for payment deferment on any of these categories and more, check out these articles:
- Fortune.com covers the different types of mortgage payment deferments and forebearances.
- Bankrate.com lists the current available programs to help defer payments on many categories, including listing state-by-state options.
- USAToday.com is covering information regarding mortgage and student loan deferment.
Again, this is a developing category and as the days pass, the options will become clearer and more available. We are pretty confident that there will be required deferments for those that need it in the area of mortgage, rent, student loans and perhaps even more bills, loans and utilities. Stay up to date on the current happenings so that you can take advantage of what you need, if you need it.
Find Financial Aid
We would urge you to use the smart resources available to you, but please try to find alternatives to taking on more debt. Some of these ideas could be good and some may help ease the pain in the immediate, but make your financial future difficult.
Regardless, just be wise about the aid that you take on.
Again, we also think that there will be many options available for those of you that are in a very difficult situation. Obviously, if debt is the only option, you need to do it to survive, but just understand your personal situation to where is this just going to make me more comfortable in the immediate or is this a true need. Most everyone is more uncomfortable than they have been in the past, so this is not easy, not matter how you slice it!
Plan Your Next Vacation(s)
Finally, to top off this article, we would recommend that you spend some of your quarantine time as a family planning your next vacation!
The vacation industry is taking a huge economic hit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t finally plan that trip now that you have the time. And since you have the time, finding the best deals or the best value.
Even if you don’t actually book because you are unsure of the future, just planning alone will be a great step!
This will also help you mentally and with your sanity. It will be a reminder that all will be ok and it will be a reminder that life will go on and back to normal.
We are all making sacrifices in major ways, but celebrate life in the process and celebrate this opportunity to clean up your finances, to have great investment opportunities, to be able to further your education and be eligible for promotions or starting a business! Let’s make the most of this stressful time and be productive and come out financially healthier, even if not financially healthier in the immediate, you can in the future just by doing some of these things!