COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide

COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide

Do you have concerns and questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how its impacts your finances? I’ve written this COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide to provide you with some valuable resources and useful information. I want to help you and your family stay financially safe and secure.

I will be updating this COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide regularly,  so make sure to check back to find answers to any questions you might have. Just as a disclaimer, while I’m here to be a resource for you, I’m a Realtor® – not a lawyer, accountant, or personal financial planner. But I have helped people buy the homes of their dreams. If I don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone who does. Feel free to call or text me at (512) 758-9134 or email robert@mrroundrock.com

  1. Keep yourself healthy, happy, and safe.
  2. Useful COVID-19 resources.
  3. Measures you can take to financially survive COVID-19.
  4. Other important resources.
  5. Coronavirus financial relief measures.
  6. Your real estate questions

Keep Yourself and Your Family Healthy, Happy, and Safe

First things first. While your finances are an important matter, remember that you and your family’s physical and mental health are the most important. Take time to love each other.

Outbreaks of disease and quarantines can be stressful. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Look out for changes in sleeping and eating, worsening of chronic health problems, and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends:

  • Taking breaks from consuming the news, including social media,
  • Taking deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Eating healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercising regularly, get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs.
  • Making time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connecting with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Finances can be a stressful topic even in the best of times. Above all, please remember that your own well-being, and that of your family requires you to take breaks, relax, and find ways to reduce your stress. Take time to care for yourself!

Useful COVID-19 Resources

Beyond the official government actions, there’s a lot you need to know to protect yourself and your finances during the COVID-19 pandemic. This COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide has you covered with specific resources.

COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide

Our common financial goal during this coronavirus pandemic is to get you through to the other side with minimal or no damage to your good credit and no unnecessary increases in debt. To achieve that mission, I’ve put together these following areas of emphasis:

1. Coronavirus Financial Survival While Still Employed

If you’re fortunate, you have been able to continue working either at home or as an essential employee of a business or nonprofit service. It is not too late for you to prepare during this on-going emergency. There are a few steps you can take to become financially secure, and to prepare for any unexpected expenses or emergencies.

  1. Get a Handle on Your Current Income, Assets, and Expenses. Calculate your income from all existing sources. How much is coming in each month? Take a look at your bank accounts. How much money do you have available in checking, savings, retirement, and lines of credit including credit cards? Track your expenses over the last few months. How much is going out each month?
  2. Income – It’s time to get creative on increasing your income. Even while you may have your hands full working and taking care of the kids, there are a few ways to make some extra money out there. People are still spending money, they’re just spending it on different things. Find your inner side hustle. Is there a fun hobby you can turn into cash? Here are a few online service ideas: Favor, Swagbucks, DoorDash, Upwork, Etsy, UserTesting, Uber Eats, Google Opinion Rewards, Grubhub.
  3. Assets and Credit. We’ve all found $20 in the washing machine, right? Check all your accounts (even the old online ones) to see where you may have access to money you didn’t know about. If you always pay more than your monthly minimum, use 30% or less than your available credit, and have been an otherwise loyal customer, call your banks or credit card companies and request an increase in your limit. A 10% to 25% increase is a reasonable request. Don’t spend this new found money, just keep it for emergencies. Banks love to give money to people who don’t really need it so plan ahead.
  4. Cut Expenses to Increase Savings. Money you have previous spent on entertainment and travel is an obvious place to start saving more money. Check your accounts for all those pesky monthly automated subscriptions – cut what you don’t need. Your goal here is to start small – set aside one month of expenses in the bank, then set aside 3 months, and six months. A good rule of thumb is that you may be job searching one month for every $10,000 in expected income. ($60,000/year = 6 months of job searching). Talk to a financial planner on the best way to earn interest on your savings while still keeping your cash reserves safe and accessible. Use a substantial portion of your new savings to pay down credit card debt. Saving the fees on high interest rate credit cards will be worth much more than any bank account interest gains.
  5. Buy a few more groceries, but don’t binge. It’s easy to spend too much money at the grocery store when everyone is panic buying. Take a deep breath and plan your family meals before heading to the store. If you don’t have an emergency stockpile, shop for canned food your family enjoys including fruit, vegetables, meat, beans, prepared foods, and soups. Dried foods like pasta, jerky, and rice. Single serving shelf-stable containers of milk, juice, Gatorade, and other drinks that don’t need to be refrigerated. Don’t make our current shopping situation worse. Limit yourself to just a few extra items per trip. In other words, buy extra emergency food regularly little by little just like you should be setting aside money in savings.
  6. Protect Yourself from Surprise Expenses. Car and home warranties can save you from unexpected catastrophic bills. I use FixdRepair.com because they are a home repair and warranty company combined. Consult an insurance agent like Javier Reyes for medical, disability, and other insurance. You can even buy your own unemployment insurance to cover bills like the mortgage and car payments.

2.Coronavirus Financial Survival When You’re Unemployed or Underemployed

Unemployment or anything less than full employment, is always rough on your finances. Find out how to manage them successfully while dealing with the stress of finding a new job through these links:

  1. Click this link to the Texas Workforce Commission COVID-19 Resources to apply for benefits right away. You’ve paid for this service, you should get it when you need it. Some independent contractor and other jobs not normally covered by unemployment insurance are now covered by the Federal coronavirus response legislation so go ahead and apply even if unsure. New Federal  rules include:
    1. An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
    2. An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
    3. An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
    4. Some self-employed people, independent contractors, and side gig workers are now eligible for benefits.
  2. If you own a small business that has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 quarantine, check the Small Business Administration to apply for financial assistance.
  3. Can’t make payments? Contact your lender, landlord, banks, creditors, and utility companies immediately. Remember to prioritize your most urgent needs. Pay or make arrangements to pay your mortgage, rent, groceries, and utility bills first. Credit cards and other debt payments have a lower priority but you still need to contact them. Most creditors will offer a temporary forbearance, forgiveness, or payment date extentions. Here are some COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide links to useful financial assistance or advice resources:
    1. HUD-Approved Housing Counselors
    2. Student Loan Questions During Coronavirus Pandemic
    3. Advice on Car Payment Options
    4. Tips for Working with Debt Collectors
    5. Atmos Energy has temporarily suspended its natural gas disconnections. Atmos says customers who need help should sign up for financial aid with their payment assistance.
    6. AT&T is suspending account terminations and waiving late fees if a customer can’t pay due to a disruption to the COVID-19.
    7. Ford Motors is offering some customers the chance to delay payments.
    8. GM has activated OnStar for all customers and is offering free Wi-Fi connection for three months.
    9. Internet Essentials offers affordable high-speed Internet from Internet Essentials from Comcast if you qualify.
    10. Spectrum is offering free access to internet and WiFi for 60-days for new Pre-K to 12, college student and teacher households who don’t currently have internet or WiFi service  and at any service level up to 100 Mbps
    11. Verizon is not terminating customer accounts and waiving late fees due to a disruption related to COVID-19.
    12. CenterPoint Energy is offering financial assistance and has temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections for nonpayment.
    13. Constellation Energy (an Exelon Company) has announced in an email they are suspending disconnects and new late fees until May 1, 2020. They are also offering deferred payment plans for customers that are being directly impacted. Customers needing assistance contact customer assistance.
    14. Reliant Energy announced they will pause payment-related disconnects for residential and small commercial customers. They will provide payment extensions and waive late fees as well as assisting customers through their CARE program.
    15. TXU Energy also has announced it will waive late fees and extend payment due dates without requiring a down payment. They will also cuts down payments and defer balances over five equal installments. Customers should contact TXU Energy customer service for more information.
    16. The IRS has extended the deadline for filing and paying taxes to July 15. This relief is automatic and you do not need to apply for an extension. They encourage people who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Filing your taxes electronically and supplying your bank account information will make it easier for you to receive any COVID-related economic stimulus payments.

3. Other Important Coronavirus Resources

4. Real Estate Questions

For Buyers

This is an excellent opportunity to find good bargains, particularly in the new home market. New home builders predicted a big year in 2020, and they are now offering more incentives and special deals to keep their inventory moving. I would be happy to help you find the best home that meets your needs while fitting your budget. We can tour vacant homes while practicing social distancing. Occupied homes require appointments and special health considerations. Many home sellers are not allowing visitors so expect a video conferencing tour.

For Sellers

Selling and touring vacant houses, land, and real estate can proceed with proper social distancing, face masks, and hand-washing. Keller Williams Realty and the Austin Board of Realtors strongly recommend online video conferencing to show homes. Occupied homes require special care. Most showings should occur online until reaching a final decision. Closings and financing can proceed but can take longer than usual. We are not conducting open houses at this time.

Contact Robert Butler Today

Robert Butler Realtor

COVID-19 questions – if I didn’t answer all your coronavirus financial survival questions in this guide, please contact me. I’ll add the information we find to this page.

I will work with you individually on your schedule to help you make the best possible real estate decision that meets your needs and fits your budget.

When you have questions or feel ready to begin your home search, please feel free to call or text me at (512) 758-9134, email robert@robertbutler.realtor, or use the contact form below.

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