The end of 2021 is already looming on the horizon. Over the past two years, the pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives. At school, home, and work alike, many have found themselves scrambling to stay afloat.
Even as COVID-19 remains a concern, it is important to begin to regain some control. Aside from taking steps to stay physically and emotionally healthy, many people need to address their post-pandemic financial health. Here are four ways to do just that.
Address Urgent Issues
Layoffs and lost jobs during the past two years are upending financial plans across the world. While some jobs have returned, many still find themselves in difficult financial situations. Bills can pile up, and payments can be missed. Although there are some eviction moratoriums for specific areas, it will most likely fall to individuals to ensure their own financial safety. Anyone behind on payments should therefore contact their landlords and creditors as soon as possible.
Be ready to explain the specific financial situations that led to delinquency, including reductions in income and depleted savings or increased debt. Though it can be difficult to share that information with a bank or creditor, there is usually a real person on the other end. Be respectful, and lay out the details, and they will do their best to help.
When negotiating debt, creditors will have questions. They’ll want to know that payments will continue at some point, so offer suggestions and timelines for resuming normal payment amounts. Explain how reduced payment amounts and extensions will allow for continued payment activity. Banks and credit card companies may also give additional assistance, including waiving fees or offering payment plans. In many cases, all you have to do is ask.
Once accounts are back on stable ground, focus on reducing expenses. Budgeting is a great way to get an in-depth look at a financial picture by illustrating in detail where funds are going. Cutting out unimportant expenses can free up funds to pay back debts that have piled up over the past two years.
If possible, try to divert some monthly funds to an emergency account as well Remember: one missed rent or car payment can upend every bit of progress. Setting aside cash, even a little at a time, can come in handy in a pinch.
Finally, take time to check and monitor your credit. Each of the three major credit reporting agencies provides one free credit report every year. Even with no immediate plans to take out a loan or open a new account, it’s important to take steps to improve a less-than-stellar credit history. That’s because you have to exhibit the ability to use credit responsibly over time to improve your score. Consider a secured credit card, which provides a line of credit in exchange for a deposit. When used routinely and responsibly, it can rebuild a positive credit history.
There is continuing government assistance to benefit those most impacted by COVID-19. The American Rescue Plan has waived tax requirements for up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020. This applies to both federal and state assistance programs. For families with eligible children, Child Tax Credits are being paid each month. These will continue until December of 2021.
Student loan debt relief is another hot-button topic. While there has been a freeze on repayments during the past two years, that is likely to change in 2022. The future of government-backed student loan forgiveness remains unknown, but individuals with federal student loan debt should contact their providers for solutions. Income-based repayment plans, for instance, can help to reduce payments until personal finances are back on track. This can drop monthly payments by as low as $0, depending on employment specifics.
There are several non-traditional income streams to take advantage of when more income is needed. Even with stable personal finances, it might be time to take a look at side gigs, like grocery and meal delivery services. Anyone with a car in working order can sign up for the countless delivery options. And the earnings can be impressive, especially with tips and repeat customers.
With any vehicle-based gig, however, routine maintenance and safety are important. An accident or injury is not only hazardous to your health, but it can also wreak havoc on your finances. Seat belt statistics show that, when worn properly and consistently, they really do save lives. Similarly, routine maintenance extends the life of a vehicle, so schedule regular oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups.
An e-commerce store can launch a creative idea into a full-fledged business. Crafted products ranging from candles to custom graphics are always popular. Reselling is another option. For example, buying wholesale goods and then selling for a profit can be especially lucrative. Dropshipping is another way to begin with very little upfront capital. All merchandise is kept with the original seller, which eliminates the need to keep inventory.
The pandemic has continued to impact everyone – physically, emotionally, and financially. While some made it out relatively unscathed, others are still trying to recover. Now is an important time to try and regain control of one’s financial health. With the future still uncertain, proper money management is more crucial than ever.
Author Bio: Jessica Larson is from SolopreneurJournal.com