Your Finances During the Coronavirus Outbreak, Is Your Emergency Budget Prepared?
Is your budget prepared for the potential economic impact of a pandemic illness? As rates of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) continue to spread around the world, school and business closures as well as social distancing and isolation measures are becoming more widespread. Under these conditions, it can be easy to lose track of the day-to-day aspects of life, but it’s important to have a plan in place and to try to maintain a routine whenever possible.
During more hectic times like these, it’s easy to overlook your budget; but now is a crucial time to examine your finances and determine whether you’re financially prepared to weather the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Maybe you’re wondering how to stay on an emergency budget or whether yours is sufficient. We’ve got some tips and advice to help get you started.
Don’t Let Fear Rule Your Wallet
As fears over the coronavirus continue to rise, many consumers are focused on purchasing as much as they can as quickly as possible. Non-perishable foods, water, masks, hand sanitizer, and (for some reason) an abundance of toilet paper are flying off the shelves.
Less attention is being paid to the impact this kind of reactive spending will have on your budget. The idea of running out of food or supplies can be scary but try to keep a few things in mind:
- Stores are still getting restocked on a regular basis, there are no shortages of food and goods
- Overbuying, “panic buying” and “stocking up” are not only unnecessary, they can also cause problems for individuals on limited budgets and those with mobility issues such as senior citizens
- You do not need to purchase food and supplies to last you for months; most stores will stay open and you can supplement as needed
- Make a shopping list, stick to it, and purchase only what you need, try to avoid buying things simply because they are “there”
- If you are self-isolating or quarantined at home, you can take further precautions and have your groceries delivered for a small fee
Make Sure Your Emergency Plans Include Your Finances
By this time, most of us are well aware of the ongoing health impacts of the coronavirus, but now the economic effects are becoming apparent as well. With businesses cutting hours or even shutting down in the interest of worker health and safety, as well as industries like travel and tourism, hospitality, and oil and gas taking a hit, the financial impacts will be serious.
While some of us might have an emergency readiness plan in place, it doesn’t always include our finances. With 48 percent of Canadians $200 or less away from financial insolvency, two weeks or more without a paycheque — such as in a quarantine or self-isolation situation — can have serious consequences. The good news is there are steps you can take to protect your finances during this time.
Help from the Government and Regulators
Stay up-to-date on what help is being offered from government and financial institutions and whether it applies to you. The latest efforts by the federal government with both medical and economic assistance can be found here. Some of the help includes:
- The one-week waiting period to receive EI sickness benefits will be waived for those who are in quarantine and/or have been told to self-isolate.
- Enhancements will be introduced to the Work Sharing Program to help workers and employers impacted by the downturn in business due to the virus. You can check your eligibility here.
- The Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate target by another half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent in response to COVID-19
- Further measures are being explored to find ways to support individuals affected who are not eligible for EI benefits
Help from Your Creditors and Financial Institution
It is always best to contact your creditors as soon as possible when things don’t go as planned. Whenever possible, reach out to all of your creditors before you miss any payments. This includes credit cards, car loans, mortgages, lines of credit, etc. While it can be an uncomfortable phone call to make, they will appreciate you contacting them directly and making them aware of your situation, they may also be able to offer revised payment options during this time.
Create an Emergency Budget
Build a realistic emergency budget and do whatever it takes to stick to it. If you’re unable to collect a paycheque, now is the time to pare down your expenses drastically. If you don’t have a budget, consider putting one together as soon as possible. We have a free downloadable budget calculator spreadsheet and a printable budgeting workbook and template that will make it easier to get started.
How Credit Counselling Can Help
One of the best ways to learn how to manage through a crisis is to get help from an accredited, trusted credit counselling association like the Credit Counselling Society. An accredited financial counsellor will answer your questions, give you information, tell you about ways to deal with debt, and can guide you through considering the options best suited to your situation.
Resources to Help Canadians with the Financial Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
We have resources, information, and assistance to help clarify what the financial effects of Covid-19 may be, how they might affect you, and the steps you can take to protect yourself. For your convenience, we’ve collected the information in one place and will be updating it as more information becomes available. Follow this link to find out more: Resources to Help Canadians with the Financial Impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
We’re Here to Help You Get Through COVID-19 Financially
If you have any questions during this time about how to get through COVID-19 financially, we encourage you to reach out to us for help. To keep everyone safer we are offering telephone appointments as well as answering your questions via our social media pages and through direct messaging. One of our friendly, professional Credit Counsellors will talk to you about preparing your finances, building a budget that will help you get through this difficult situation, and prepare you to manage others successfully. Give us a call at 1-888-527-8999; send us an email, chat with us anonymously online, or message us on Facebook and Twitter. We’re here for you. Please reach out to us if you need help.