By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
Well, here we are! As one friend shared, “I woke up feeling great! I’m so ready for another big day of handwashing and looking out the window!” Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected the events of these last several weeks. These are uncertain and ever-changing times, but I know we will get through this together.
Many of our family and friends have lost jobs. Those who continue to work face reduced hours or uncertainty as to how long their paychecks will continue. Buying groceries and keeping our monthly bills current is difficult when your household income has fluctuated. How do we best juggle the financial burden of COVID-19, and what do we do now?
First, take a minute and just breathe. There have been many significant life changes these past few weeks. We are teaching the kids virtually, and teachers we appreciate you! The office has been relocated to the family kitchen table. Our business community has had to adapt or close due to the virus, and our lives are adapting to physical distancing. Now, take that deep breath grant yourself some grace.
Next, it is time to prioritize expenses covering the basics of food, shelter, and utilities. Do you have credit card debt? Focus on just paying the minimum balance. Are you trying to pay off debt? Consider pausing that for the meantime. Do you have a car loan payment? Call your bank and see if the payment can be delayed. What extras can be cut or reduced from your budget? Remember, we are focusing on the MUST haves, such as your heat, water, and the house/rent payment.
Do you remember the emergency fund we have discussed before? These circumstances MAY be the time to dip into that fund, only if necessary. You have worked hard to save for an emergency, and this would very much be considered an emergency.
Finally, do not cash in on your retirement. I know the stock market has been very volatile, which creates much uncertainty, but this is part of a long-term plan. Now is not the time to take it out.
One day at a time, one week at a time, we will all come through this. Until then, we have much to enjoy, sunshine, a good book, puzzles, kindness, conversations, and dancing across the dining room floor. I am thinking of all of you and praying for our communities and our nation to recover. Stay healthy and stay home! Take care of yourself and your family first!