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Financial Planning During COVID-19: 7 Ways to Get Relief

Apr 03, 2020 4 min read Bana Jobe

Key takeaways

  • COVID-19 has put millions out of work, creating a huge need for financial relief.
  • Financial planning and economic assistance can improve your situation.
  • Taking action can help you weather the storm and keep financial anxiety at bay.



The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the retail, travel and restaurant industries, among other sectors. Layoffs and reduced worker hours have become the norm, with unemployment rising toward Depression-era levels Opens in new window. If you've been caught in the crossfire and wonder how you'll make ends meet, know that you do have options.

Here are seven financial planning tips for this uncertain time:


1. Apply for government benefits and other relief

Unemployment insurance programs support workers who lose their jobs or get their hours cut. In light of the pandemic, many state governments have fast-tracked waiting periods for these benefits so that people can get relief right away.

Contact your state's unemployment insurance department Opens in new window to learn if you qualify and to get started. And check out this handy guide on filing for unemployment Opens in new window. As the federal government works through potential stimulus packages, some Americans could get rebate checks in the mail at some point, too.

If you’re a gig worker, you might qualify for help from The Workers Fund Rapid COVID-19 Response Opens in new window. This donation-based fund stems from a nonprofit project that distributed $1,000 emergency checks Opens in new window to some 400 gig workers in a handful of cities last year.

You might also be able to pause payments of certain debts, like mortgages and student loans. Check with your lenders as well as local, regional and state authorities to learn more.


2. Take advantage of nonprofit and industry resources

Nonprofits and other groups have stepped up to help people in this time of increased need. FindHelp.org Opens in new window is an easy place to search for free and low-cost resources near you, such as food delivery, child care and transportation. Depending on your line of work, you may also want to check out trade-specific resources. For example, the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation Opens in new window and the USBG National Charity Foundation Opens in new window have organized relief funds for unemployed restaurant workers and bartenders.


3. Earn cash from side hustles, odd jobs and part-time work

It might be hard to think about now, but recessions can give way to opportunities for entrepreneurship. If you have the luxury, use your new free time to explore gig work or that business idea you've always considered — as long as it complies with social distancing policies where you live.

Spend time creating a website, building an Etsy page or polishing your portfolio so that you can turn your side hustle into a bigger revenue stream. Or, pick up extra cash where you can through interim jobs such as delivery driving. With growing demand during COVID-19, many industries are hiring right now Opens in new window.


4. Learn new skills

Pursuing educational opportunities to learn new skills can give you an advantage the next time you apply for a job. Now is as good a time as any to shore up your marketable skills, and many distance learning providers have been offering free virtual learning courses during COVID-19 Opens in new window.


5. Look for remote temp work

Making money online might sound elusive, but it can be done. Sites like FlexJobs Opens in new window and ZipRecruiter Opens in new window provide searchable listings of remote work opportunities. Companies seek remote support for transcription, data entry and virtual assistant services.


6. Reach out to friends, family and former colleagues

Telling your friends and family that you're out of a job isn't easy, but they could have a lead that helps you land your next opportunity. Now more than ever, people want to help each other. But they can only help you if they know you need it.


7. Take out a loan (as a last resort)

You should exhaust all other options before you consider getting a loan. Adding another payment to your monthly budget could dig you even deeper into a financial hole. Still, applying for a short-term personal loan or borrowing against home equity or a 401(k) could give you some breathing room as you figure out your next steps. But remember: Just because you heard that federal interest rates (for banks) have zeroed out, it doesn't mean that's the case for borrowers (like you).


What you can do next

Having a plan — financial and personal — is vital in a crisis. So, take time to assess your financial situation. Review your spending, make an emergency budget and identify opportunities to pare down expenses. Meanwhile, identify your skills, then market and use them to find your next source of income. By taking action, you can — and will — get through this.



Bana Jobe is an Austin-based health writer and editor with more than a decade of content experience for brands, agencies and digital media. She loves turning complex concepts into empowering stories.


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