MISSOULA — Many of us aren't spending as much money on gas or 'extras' these days as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stress the economy.
It's reminiscent of the 2008 recession, but with a few big differences. For example, Americans have a bigger financial cushion now than what was available a decade ago.
There are also increased unemployment benefits, stimulus money and employers who can use the Paycheck Protection Plan to help keep people on the job.
But still, since we don't know what the 'end game' of this pandemic looks like, we conducted a Facebook Live interview on Tuesday to ask Rural Dynamics executive director Tom Jacobson -- who is a consumer credit counseling expert -- for some advice on how to handle your money in a global pandemic so you're not caught empty-handed.
"If you get that $1,200 check and you are like ‘I need to pay off this credit card debt,’ maybe right now is not the time to pay it off and rather hold on to that $1,200,” Jacobson said. “And if you need to ask for delays on those payments talk to your creditors. Try to hold on to that especially if your future is uncertain."
Some good things to do right now:
- Make a budget.
- Save your stimulus to try to keep cash on hand.
- Don't ignore mounting debt problems. Contact your credit card company, mortgage or lender if you're having trouble making your payments. You could get a deferral or negotiate a lower rate.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help -- either through a nonprofit credit counselor or even using some of the relief programs offered by the state.
Watch the full interview with Rural Dynamics Executive Director Tom Jacobson below.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic is changing our community. To keep you and your family informed as we move forward, we're beginning a new series of reports. They are stories that will help all of us navigate through these uncertain times. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be focusing on “The Rebound: Montana.”
It is a series of reports, videos, and information that show our commitment to stories that will help you as our communities begin to rebound - from what you'll need to know when it's time to go back to work, to how those in the community continue to step up and help others.
Getting Back To WorkLearn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.
Making Ends MeetFind help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.
Managing the PressureFeeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.
Doing What’s RightKeep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.