We are a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects are being felt hard by Americans, especially financially.  While states are starting to lift restrictions, the economy will not automatically bounce back.  We need to prepare to be in financial uncertainty for at least a few more months and your budget needs to adjust accordingly.  When facing a financial crisis, having a handle on your cash flow is key to your financial survival and for rebuilding in the future.  Budgeting in a crisis requires knowing your priorities and limiting expenses.  The most important costs in your budget to manage during a crisis are housing, groceries and debt.  Limit everything else on your budget to the greatest extent possible.

Housing

Regardless of what is happening in the world around you, ensure you have a roof over head. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act can provide relief if you are unable to make your housing payment through foreclosure moratorium and forbearance for mortgages as well as eviction protection for renters. Information and resources are changing at a rapid pace so it is important to get help from someone who can walk you through the available options.  You could call your lender, landlord or a CCCSMD financial advocate.

Groceries

During this pandemic, you should budget for groceries a bit differently than you normally would.  To limit trips to the grocery store, you should make lists that are generally in order of the aisles in the store.  This will help you get through shopping faster and also limit the amount of impulse buying.  For the largest savings, stick to the store brands, limit meat purchases, and only buy what you need. Budget take-out for no more than once per week and strive to order from a local small business.  This will help you support your community but not cost you excessively more than it would if you ate at home.

Debt

When you are trying to pay off debt, do not panic or skip payments when faced with a budget crisis.  If you are currently on a debt management plan (DMP) and your expenses have changed dramatically due to COVID-19, call CCCSMD to see what we can do for you.  For those struggling who are not on a DMP, we offer free credit and budget counseling.  We can help you determine if you should make minimum only payments on your debts or if there is a better long-term solution for you.

If you have never made a budget before, budgeting in a crisis might seem like an overwhelming task.  At CCCSMD, we work with you, over the phone, to establish a crisis budget.  We will review your current income and expenses and discuss ways to reduce your everyday spending.  We can help stabilize your living conditions by explaining short-term solutions to housing and debt concerns and provide you with community resources and emergency assistance programs.  We will also help you create a plan for how to recover from this crisis and regain your financial health.  Call (800) 642-2227 to speak with one of our financial advocates today.