If you’ve suddenly found yourself unemployed, laid off, furloughed, fired or partially unemployed from your traditional job, you can apply for unemployment in your state. If you are a gig worker, you will eventually be covered by unemployment. I am currently checking every day in Indiana to see if they’ve implemented the parameters for gig workers. They have not, and according to last count, no other state has input the parameters for gig workers and the self-employed yet. If your state has, feel free to leave a comment. However, regardless of your current employment status, you’ve probably found yourself in a money crunch. While you will need to judge your own financial situation yourself, here’s a good idea of the order of things when working with limited money.
1. Buy Your Food, Essentials and Medicine
You’re not going to be able to do much if you’re starving or out of your medications. Not to mention, not eating weakens your immune system, and starving to death is pretty misreable. If you have money whether saved or received from your job, the first thing you need to do is buy your food, essentials and toilet paper. Not to mention, you’re going to mentally feel a lot better if your home is stocked.
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2. Pay Your Car Insurance
If you have a car, pay your car insurance. I have yet to hear of one car insurance company that is waiving or delaying the need to pay. If you do not have your car insurance money, call your agent. They may have a plan they aren’t advertising for individuals who have been severely economically impacted by COVID-19. If you let your car insurance lapse, you could be considered a high risk driver, and not having car insurance is against the law. If you have full coverage car insurance and don’t owe any money on your car, you may consider changing to state minimum in order to save money, especially since you’re probably not driving much right now anyway.
3. Pay Your Rent or Mortgage or Call Your Bank or Landlord
If you have no money or are severely limited in funds, you will need to call your landlord or your bank or mortgage company and work something out. Many landlords are willing to take partial payments, and laws have been enacted about evicting tenants and pursuing foreclosures for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. Some mortgage companies are willing to stick your most recent payments on the back end of your mortgage, meaning you don’t have to pay today, but you do have to pay eventually.
If you have money to pay your rent or mortgage, I’d suggest paying it or paying as much as you can. Just because there are no evictions or foreclosures going on right now, doesn’t mean that you cannot eventually be evicted or foreclosed upon. You will still owe the money, and you will have to pay it eventually.
4. Pay Your Internet Bill
Mot people get their news and entertainment via the Internet. I would recommend paying this bill. While it’s unlikely that your Internet would be canceled for non-payment right now, you don’t want to owe thousands at the end of this. If you have cable, cancel all services except your Internet. You can always bring them back later.
5. Pay Your Gas and/or Electric
Most gas and electric companies won’t turn off your services right now. If you are unsure, you can call your utility companies to confirm this. If you can’t pay the entire bills, you can pay part of what is owed. If you have no money whatsoever, you can skip it. Unfortunately, like everything else, not paying means this bill is just going to get larger and larger. Once things return to normal, you’ll probably have to work out a payment plan in order to catch-up.
6. Pay Your Water
No one is going to turn off your water right now. If the water company does shut off your water, you can call your state and report them. You will eventually have to pay all your back water bills, but if you’re out of money, you can skip this one.
7. Pay Your Subscription Services
The only subscription services I’d keep right now are the ones that offer delivery. This would be things like Amazon Prime and Shipt. Everything else, I’d cancel. Since I haven’t heard of anyone waiving these fees, you’ll still have to pay if you want to keep your subscription services.
8. Pay Your Credit Cards or Call Your Credit Card Company
To be quite honest, I wouldn’t worry about making credit card payments, unless you’re using these to buy groceries and essentials. You can also call your credit card company to see if you can work something out with them, but paying credit cards is pretty low on the necessary payment totem pole.
9. Call the Lender for Your Car Payment
If you can’t afford to pay your car payment, you may be able to work something out with your lender, like extending your loan by a few months or getting your current payments tacked onto the back end of your car loan. The thing to remember here is that you need to call your lender if you cannot make your car payment.
By prioritizing your bills, you’ll be able to make your money stretch farther right now. However, it’s important to note that this is only a blueprint. You will need to take a look at your bills and prioritize according to your own needs and your own finances.
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