June 4, 2020

With COVID-19’s impact reaching into the wallets of many local residents facing furloughs and job elimination, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re as financially healthy as you can be.

Whether you’re currently working, underemployed, looking for a new position, or preparing for uncertainties that tomorrow might bring, smart money management can help you get closer to your goals. Here are three ways you can be better financially prepared for the future.

See Where You Stand

The first step in any money-management program is to build a budget. This allows you to determine how much money you have coming in and how you’re spending it. The goal, of course, is to have what’s commonly referred to as a zero-based budget – one in which money coming in matches what’s going out (including savings, investments, and debt payments).

Is budgeting new to you? If so, we’ve got you covered. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about financial planning. We’ve also partnered with BALANCE, a free financial education and counseling service, to offer a variety of budget-focused calculators, toolkits, tips, and resources that you can utilize at home. 

Of course, if you’re already budgeting, great job! In times like these, your budget may differ significantly from what it was a few months or even weeks ago. You should continue to make revisions regularly and adjust for any changes in income or your savings and investment goals.

Prioritize Essential Payments and Bills

When money is tight, focus on the essentials: food, shelter, utilities, transportation, and any necessary medicines needed by you or a family member. Those expenses should continue to be your priority. 

During your budget review, you may find charges such as cell phone service, streaming subscriptions, or gym memberships gobbling up a good chunk of cash. These “nice-to-haves” can be canceled or, at a minimum, suspended as you focus on what you need to get by.

Ask for Assistance

Thankfully, the CARES Act provides a number of protections and benefits for individuals and small businesses, including utility cut-off stoppage and temporary eviction protection. If you have been affected by COVID-19 and have a loan, credit card, or mortgage with 1st United, you can request a payment deferral

Still, asking for help may be a new experience for you. We get it. Below are some tips and resources on how to get financial help: 

  • Make it a priority to talk to each of your lenders (including your landlord, if you’re a renter) to discuss your financial situation. As COVID-19 has made a global impact, lenders of all types are offering all sorts of assistance – from skip-a-payment programs and extended payment periods to allowing partial payments that won’t damage your credit. The most important takeaway is to ask for assistance, so contact them today.
  • If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely worried about two sets of bills. Our local chambers of commerce offer a wealth of resources, including SBA disaster assistance information and guidelines for operations. Here are links to our local chambers: 
    Alameda | Berkeley | Castro Valley/Eden Area | Fremont | Hayward | Livermore Valley | Oakland | Pleasanton | San Leandro 
  • Contact 2-1-1 Alameda County to learn about additional health, housing, and human services resources for local residents currently experiencing hardships. To get help, simply dial 2-1-1 from your phone, or visit their website.

We’re Here to Help

Above all, we remain committed to improving our members’ quality of life and the communities we serve across the East Bay, Tri-Valley, and surrounding areas. Should you need financial assistance, we encourage you to reach out and let us know so we can best assist you. 

As a reminder, financial counseling and education through BALANCE is free for all 1st United members. To get started, call (888) 456-2227 and let them know that 1st United Credit Union sent you.

At 1st United, we know these are trying times for many. We encourage you to visit COVID-19: Keeping You Informed for the latest news and information related to the pandemic. Should you need financial assistance, 1st United Credit Union representatives are available to assist you by email, chat, or by calling (800) 649-0193.