We are living unprecedented times. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard this phrase these last few months and I’m sure you can relate with me. But we really are living challenging times, to say the least. High unemployment and reduced incomes are part of the new normal. We’re living in the midst of a recession plus a pandemic, and assuming that you already applied for unemployment benefits…what can you do if you can’t pay your monthly bills?
1.Create a Bare Bones Budget
This won’t be your typical budget, but instead your survival budget. Try to focus on your four basic walls: food, housing, transportation, and utilities. The other categories of your budget such as entertainment, clothing, makeup, gym, cable, Netflix, etc can be added later on as they are often not necessary for basic survival. The idea is to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
2. Contact your bank, credit card issuers and other lenders
It’s so important to have open communication with your lenders. Call them ASAP and let them know of your situation. They will certainly help you, but you have to communicate with them. If you have debt in collections, call them and negotiate a payment plan or just call to postpone payments until further notice. As you put some debt payment on hold, remember to prioritize building your emergency funds.
3. Cook at home, as much as you can
Cooking at home can save you so much money per month! All those little expenses do add up…yes you can have a nice brunch outside one Sunday or your favorite latte one afternoon but if you’re struggling financially now try to reduce them to a minimum. One thing I do is buy generic food, non-branded and I also buy some house items in bulk as that helps us save money. Always go shopping with a list to avoid temptations.
4. Try to make extra income by starting a side hustle or side jobs
Think of something that you wanted to do when you were employed that maybe you didn’t have the time to do or something that you’re passionate about. Maybe you can start monetizing that or just apply to side jobs. Right now, there are many side hustles in demand such as delivery jobs, online tutors, jobs at grocery stores among others.
The Bottom Line
During uncertain times it’s so important to prioritize, organize ourselves, and think outside the box. If you lost your job, it is also very important to network and talk to family and friends about your job search situation. Also, take time to update your resume and if you can, learn some new skills. Remember that the best investment you could ever make is in yourself. Be positive and remember that this too shall pass.