We all know we need to prepare for unexpected financial setbacks as best we can. Chances are you never had a parent tell you to have a plan for financial relief in case you lost your job and were isolated due to a worldwide pandemic, though.
COVID-19 is throwing us all for a loop, and for millions of Americans, it’s financially devastating. If you’re among them, you may have more financial relief options than you think.
1. Seek Unemployment Assistance
Not everyone thinks to apply for unemployment in these times because it’s such an uncommon reason to lose your job. Thanks to the CARES Act, though, many more people can now qualify for unemployment.
If you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment aid. You can now also get assistance if you’re self-employed and the pandemic has cut off your income.
While those changes apply to the entire US, the unemployment claims themselves are handled by each individual state. To apply, visit your state’s unemployment website online.
2. Contact Your Creditors
The upside of having financial struggles from a massive pandemic (as opposed to a different situation) is that everyone knows what’s happening. The people you pay your bills to will likely be more understanding because they realize this is out of your control.
To lower the burden of your bills, contact everyone you usually pay. That includes your landlord or mortgage provider, utility companies, lenders, cell phone company and others.
In many areas and situations, landlords can’t process evictions and mortgage lenders can’t foreclose. Even if this is the case for you, it’s better to contact them to discuss the situation rather than simply stopping your payments. Otherwise, you may accrue late charges, other fees and still get an eviction notice the day after the eviction hiatus is lifted.
Don’t forget about your credit card companies if you need to make payments. They may defer your payments or offer lower minimum payment amounts for you.
3. Find Local Food Assistance Options
Finding help with groceries is one of the best ways to cut your household costs.
In most areas, the only change to governmental food assistance programs is that they no longer require you to have or seek employment. However, there are plenty of other ways people are stepping up to help.
These will depend on your local area. Search for food pantries and other food distribution programs organized for people in need. There may be more of these now than usual due to the current crisis. Also check with your church. Many churches have food pantries for their patrons.
Many restaurants are lending a hand as well by offering low-cost or “pay what you can” meals. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to apply for governmental food assistance for some financial relief.
4. Consider Programs for Small Businesses
If you have a small business or if you’re self-employed, there are additional options available in the form of loans and grants. These possibilities are open to freelancers and gig workers as well.
The largest opportunity is the loan program established by the CARES Act. You can find out more through the Small Business Administration. Many of these loans also have forgiveness potential with specific criteria, so the loan may turn into more of a grant.
Facebook has also set up a large-scale grant program for small businesses (find link). They will provide grants to some who apply and others may receive free advertising credits to bring in more money.
5. Pick Up a Side Hustle
If you’re in financial straits because you’ve lost your job or you are working fewer hours, why not put your time to good use? Start a side hustle that can make you money now as well as after you get back to work.
Take an inventory of your talents and think about how you can turn them into cash. Advertise your services for skills like design, writing, building, and more. Sites like Fiverr allow you to offer just about anything.
If you can’t think of any specific skills, there are side gigs available that anyone can do. Consider delivering food for services like DoorDash or GrubHub. And check out the 90+ jobs available at Thinkflow for more ideas.
6. Have a Digital Garage Sale
If you could use some spring cleaning, why not open more space in your home while making money? You can do this by selling items you don’t need.
There are plenty of ways to do this online, such as through OfferUp, eBay, Amazon or on local garage sale websites. You can sell anything from furniture to clothing.
Whenever possible, though, find a contactless way to make the exchange. Ship items when you can. If you can’t ship an item, meet up with the person and have them pay you online rather than with cash.
Find the Financial Relief You Can
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard. It’s encouraging that so many people are coming out of the woodwork to help.
The tips above can help you find the financial relief you need to get through this crisis with your credit intact. For an extra boost, learn more about our easy cash loans too.