One of the many unfortunate realities of the COVID-19 pandemic is the financial stress millions of people around the globe began facing, nearly overnight. Businesses are closing, and workers are subsequently being laid off. It can be incredibly challenging to face the reality of sudden unemployment, but there are a few steps you can take to gain some financial relief in these difficult times:
Explore benefits possibilities
There are several federal government benefits you can access to get you through your immediate situation. As well as Employment Insurance (EI), sickness benefits, and so on, there’s also the newly introduced Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB.
CERB provides a payment of up to $2,000 a month for people whose income has suffered directly because of COVID-19. It’s straightforward to apply for and is usually paid within ten days.
Also check with your Provincial Government and local utility providers for any COVID-19 assistance measures they’ve introduced, to see if you’re eligible.
Cut discretionary spending
Can you cut back on any leisure expenses like streaming subscriptions? Can you switch from brand name to generic versions of groceries? Trimming the extras off your budget wherever you can is essential until you’re back on your feet and you can re-evaluate.
Be transparent with your service providers
Contact your utility providers, insurers, phone company, and so on and explain that COVID-19 has cost you your job. Most major companies have plans in place to help, as it’s in their interest to keep your business for when things return to normal. A quick phone call could make a big impact.
Rent or mortgage deferments
If you can’t pay your rent as a result of COVID-19 check if your province has a temporary ban on tenant evictions. But before you even get to that stage, contact your landlord and see if any arrangements can be made during this temporary situation.
Given the scale of the problem, they’re likely to be flexible: they know there’s no huge queue of potential new renters with zero money worries.
If you have a mortgage, most financial institutions have confirmed they’ll deal with COVID-related difficulties on a case-by-case basis. At Coast, we’ve launched our Member Financial Relief Program to support individual and small business members through financial hardships they may be facing at this time.
Whether you’re a renter or a mortgage payer, be proactive by taking action before things get desperate.
Reduce debt repayments
If you carry a credit card balance or other debt, switch your payments to the minimum amount as soon as you can. And if you’ll still have difficulties making payments, contact your provider to ask for advice. Just like a mortgage, make it clear that the situation is a direct result of COVID-19 and you’ll get a sympathetic response.
File Your Taxes
If applicable, file your taxes to set in motion any refunds you may be entitled to. Filing may not feel like a priority just now, but the sooner you do it the sooner you’ll receive any vital refund.
Protect Your Savings
Lastly, if you have any savings or an emergency fund set aside, do whatever you can to avoid dipping into them. Remind yourself that the COVID-19 situation is temporary, but losing your hard-earned savings will have long-term effects. Don’t use savings to finance your current lifestyle, and only fall back on them when 100% necessary for essential expenses.
None of this is to underestimate the difficulties losing your job will bring. But you can always try to find some breathing room to minimize the financial impact that COVID-19 has on your future.