Millions of Americans that are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic are set to lose the $600 extra weekly benefit by the end of July. With this critical funding set to be reduced to just an additional $200, now is the time for those who are struggling to work on stretching their remaining benefits as effectively as possible. Here are several steps to take to help make ends meet.
1) Be aggressive about cutting your spending. Look at your statements and look for recurring expenses such as streaming services, gym memberships, car washing memberships, or money spent on online games and cancel what is unnecessary and keep closer track of small expenses that add up. Keep track of your spending on food expenses and try to plan out meals for the week instead of getting delivery.
2) Apply for hardship programs if you haven’t already. Go through your bills and reach out to every entity you owe money to: mortgage, utilities, credit cards, cell phone companies, cable, internet, and car insurance. Many of these companies have financial assistance programs available, but if not, you may be able to negotiate your current payment or delay a payment for a future date.
3) Look into different health insurance. If you’ve lost your job, you may have also lost your health insurance. Instead of signing up for COBRA, look into your state’s health insurance marketplace for lower cost options. Many states are offering special enrollment periods due to the pandemic. You may also qualify for Medicaid depending on your location and financial situation.
4) Look for free programs and entertainment. Many local libraries are closed however, most have online digital catalogs available. Apple and Amazon are also offering free digital books online. There are a number of online concerts, musicals, and plays streaming for free online on YouTube and other websites. Some museums are also offering free virtual tours and events as well.
5) Go through your closets and garages to find items to sell. If you’re looking to get some extra cash flow, many people have extra items around the house they are no longer using such as outgrown clothing, electronics, and toys. There are a lot of online resale sites that you can utilize to maintain social distancing. eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, Swappa, and Poshmark are some websites to consider.