April is National Financial Literacy Month. While most of us are focused on keeping our families safe and healthy right now, National Financial Literacy Month sparks a reminder of how important it is to maintain financial health through this pandemic. Letting your finances slip at this time could create other issues down the line – particularly with an uncertain economic outlook. We encourage you to take extra care with your finances, doing what is needed to keep everything in order. Here are a few recommendations of areas to consider.
Focus on needs vs. wants
Taking a moment to reassess your budget and removing expenses that aren’t a necessity right now could go a long way in helping you get through this hurdle while allowing you to put money aside for an emergency fund. When things smooth out, you can add these items back into your budget.
Rethink using your emergency savings (or start building one quickly)
An emergency savings is more important than ever, especially if you are at risk of losing your income. If you don’t have one, we recommend you start saving right away with a goal of putting aside three to six months of living expenses. And before you dip into your existing emergency savings, be sure you’ve exhausted all other options to reduce expenses such as visiting the food bank or speaking with your utility companies and creditors to see if they offer COVID-19 forgiveness programs.
Stay calm and follow your investment plan
It’s normal to feel uneasy about your investments in the wake of a turbulent market. Before you make any changes to your investment strategy, be sure to speak with a professional financial advisor. For some, a change may be necessary. For the majority, you will want to stay the course if your financial plan was created to tolerate the long-term ups and downs of the market.
Beware of scams & protect your accounts
Cybercriminals have shown up in full-force already. Use every precaution right now to protect your money by understanding COVID-19 scams, IRS stimulus check scams, and fake check scams so you can watch for them. We also recommend you set up credit union, bank, and credit card account alerts so you’ll be notified of suspicious activity.
Before your finances fall too far behind, get the help you need with your bills, budget, and debt collections. As a 1st United member, you have FREE access to financial counseling and debt management through our BALANCE partner. Give them a call – they can walk you through your options.
While your health is your priority, please also keep your financial well-being at the top of your to-do list. If you have any questions or need guidance, don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 649-0193 or reach out to BALANCE at (888) 456-2227. Stay safe and financially healthy.