We are in difficult times around the world. Entire economies have ground to a halt and millions of jobs have been lost. Beyond that, economic systems are having trouble functioning well, and that makes sense if people are being required to shelter in place or isolate themselves.
Now more than ever before you need to make sure you are on top of your household budgeting, that you are keeping track of both your income and expenses, and that the adults in the household are working together on this task. Budgeting for the home and family has always been difficult, but now it is going to grow a lot more complicated.
Here are some ideas on how you can keep up on budgeting this year when governments will be providing assistance to their residents and citizens:
- Stimulus money. Some governments are passing legislation so that they can send families extra money to help with bills and expenses. Read the news about this in your area. You and your household may not get the full amounts listed in the headlines, so temper your expectations. But if you are going to get some cash, write this down on your budget so you can keep track of when you might receive it.
- Evictions and foreclosures. Are you worried about being evicted or foreclosed because you cannot pay your rent or mortgage? If so, check out recent government news or regulations regarding possible delays of this activity. You might be able to put this off to later in the year. But make sure you do what you are supposed to do, and that might include contacting your lender or landlord and requesting by phone, in writing, or both for the delay in payments, if that is available for you. Make sure you keep track of your communication with dates, times, and copies of any emails or written correspondence.
- Bank or credit card fees. If your balances are getting low or close to zero, you may start worrying about late fees or overdraft charges. Check the conditions for your accounts, contact your bank or credit card company, and stay on top of this. Be polite when you call and ask about the chance of fees being waived or cancelled.
- Auto loans. If you have a big monthly loan or car note, you might be wondering how you are going to make those payments every month if you are unemployed. Again, make sure you contact the lender and ask for delays or assistance in modifying your payments. Communication is the key to getting started on all this, and politeness is going to be crucial.
- Side hustles and side gigs. Keep on the lookout for extra ways to make money, even if you are required to be at home and are not employed in an essential industry. You probably have skills and experience that employers desire, so keep busy as best you can and try to learn more in your down time.
Make sure you are keeping a watchful eye on where money is going every week and every month. Use software or a notebook to track everything so you and your partner can physically see the budgeting as it occurs. Seeing something makes it more real so it is not so abstract.
Family members may have to really pitch in and help each other, especially with more job losses on the way. If one person knows of available work, make sure that information is shared with others so as many people as possible can be able to make a living.
Work hard to find the extra cash or gift cards around your house. These can help buy groceries and gas, and many people have forgotten they have them or how much value is on them.
We will get through this financial crisis one day, but we have to work hard. Every little thing matters more than ever. Have a positive attitude and treat each other well.