Juggling Family, Money, and Life in COVID

African american woman with her young daughter sitting on her lap, showing her a piece of paper on the kitchen table, and overlay with article title of "juggling family, money and life in covid"

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Really?
Your feelings of uncertainty are real. You may have been sick, lost a loved one, furloughed or lost your job, have the kids back at home, or frankly don’t know what is going to happen.

You are not alone. And you have options and support available.

We know that having money can take a lot of pressure off you and your family. Money will not necessarily make you happy, but the lack thereof will certainly cause stress. Before the Pandemic, fewer than half of Americans were able to come up with $400 for an emergency without borrowing the money, so it’s understandable that a pandemic with financial implications, on top of everything else, would cause even more stress.

Here are some things that may ease the way forward if you are struggling with finances.

Hang On
Now is the time to work on realistic goals that will help you hang on financially as we navigate this turbulent season. You want to cover expenses, be mindful of your credit rating, buy the necessities and make sure your loved ones are taken care of. If you can’t pay everything or if your finances are tight, consider the following:

  • Budget: Get the whole family involved in the ways you can create a family “hang-on” budget. Be creative about all spending and stick to only buying what you really need right now. Make it a “zero” budget, where you account for every dollar you spend based only on the money you have coming in. The goal is that your budget should “zero” out for the period.
  • Mortgage/Rent: As the forbearances expire, try to pay to keep your home. Negotiate with banks and mortgage companies, and even with your landlord if you rent. Don’t wait to default; be proactive and explain your situation. Remember, a bank doesn’t want a foreclosure. Many states have implemented programs to avoid evictions and utility shutoffs.
  • Credit cards: If you are trying to build emergency savings or just trying to get by, pay only the minimums on your credit cards. This is against conventional wisdom, but we are not living in conventional times. If your interest rate is high, call the card companies and negotiate a lower rate. It’s worth a try.
  • Save Money: When you can, save money. If there is another stimulus check or you get some extra work, or go back to work…save what you can. Every little bit helps.

Don’t Keep Up With the Joneses’
You will always see people spending more than you and posting on social media that their lives are amazing. Let it go. Try to dismiss any discontent you may feel. Start explaining your values to your kids and that what is important is that you are going to stick together as a family and get through this together.

Set New Expectations
As a family, figure out how each of you can chip in with time and effort to reduce some of your expenses. Make a list of all of the chores you can do and the money saved. For instance, you may have been paying for house cleaning, pet walking, pet grooming, lawn service, painting/handyman services, car washing, massages, nail and hair treatments, etc. This empowers the kids to help, and it makes them feel like they are really contributing to family goals.

Move Forward Together
As your family works together to make the best of this season, you can also get the support of a nonjudgmental and compassionate Money Coach. While many things may feel like they’re constantly changing and uncertain, you can rest assured that an MSA Money Coach has the expertise to leave no stone unturned when it comes to determining the options available for you and your family.

Building a budget, managing debt and credit, understanding unemployment benefits, determining tax implications, caring for kids and aging parents, and how to save more are just a few examples of what you can talk about with your Money Coach. Call 888-724-2326 today to get started.