While you’re doing the life-saving work of caring for patients during a global pandemic, money should be the least of your worries.
Unfortunately, there are many healthcare workers struggling with pay cuts or even layoffs.
Follow these guidelines to reduce the risk of debt and keep your finances afloat while you deal with the consequences of COVID-19.
Talk to your family about your budget
If you’re still working, you’re probably putting in extra hours. Any budget you had in place before the crisis is likely in the hands of your spouse, your children, or another loved one. Have a talk with that person (or people) to ensure they understand how the household budget works and how to stick to it.
If you live on your own, do your best to continue tracking your budget as you normally would. It’s essential to keep track of your money now more than ever.
Try to retain savings as a fixed part of your monthly budget. In case you do take a pay cut or get laid off, having an emergency savings fund will help. The more you have saved up, the less you will have to rely on credit cards to make ends meet. Try an automatic transfer from your checking to savings account if you don’t already have one set up.
Know your options for student loan payments
Student loan payments from medical or nursing schools can be especially high. From March 13 until sometime in September, all federal student loan interest rates have been cut to 0%. You can request to keep making payments, but you are also allowed to skip some payments during the crisis. Talk to your loan servicer to ask about your specific situation.
Private student loans are treated differently. There are some private companies offering relief at this time, but it depends on who owns the loan. Again, talk to your servicer directly to understand your options.
Learn about how your housing costs may change
If you are having trouble making your rent or mortgage payment, you may be able to reduce or even pause your payments, depending on where you live and your rental company or mortgage lender.
Those with federally owned mortgages can’t be evicted or foreclosed on during this time. Do you rent or have a non-federally owned mortgage? Talk to your lender or landlord to see if you can defer the payment. This will allow yo auto miss payments without incurring penalties.
Additionally, some states have limited utility shutoffs. Talk to your utility providers if these payments are also causing you trouble.
Do your taxes sooner than later
It’s all right if you haven’t filed your taxes yet this year. The filing date moved to July 15th.
However, if you have changed bank accounts or moved since you filed your returns last year, make sure to file as soon as possible. Not only can this affect your refund, but it may also affect how quickly you receive your stimulus check.
Seek out relief programs
Although the CARES Act includes a stimulus package for healthcare providers, it isn’t enough for every office. Pay cuts and layoffs are still happening. Some healthcare workers unions, such as 119SEIU, offer information about paid leave and supplemental federal unemployment compensation.
Limit financial stress
Changes to your financial situation can cause a panic that radiates through the rest of your life. Part of maintaining financial stability is dealing with the stress it causes. Here are a few pointers for staying stable:
Follow a normal routine as much as you can. Make time for exercise and try to eat and drink water at regular intervals. This can reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
Then, address the emotional aspect of your personal and financial stress. Talk to someone you trust and avoid leaning on drugs and alcohol for relief.
When you’re ready to look into the source of your money worries, get real about your situation. What can you actually control? What do you need to just let go of?
Take care of yourself
It can be easy to forget about yourself when you’re constantly taking care of others.
For more information about dealing with the financial fallout of COVID-19, see our pandemic resource center