COVID-19 has hit the world hard. With over 80 million cases in the United States and counting, it’s become a part of the new normal. It’s probably impacted your own life in some way—schools, businesses and healthcare are all adjusting to life with a pandemic.
Sure, we’ve moved on from staying at home to stop the spread. Luckily, due to the advancement of the COVID vaccine, most people can get back to a new normal. But even after two years since the pandemic started, financial health, employment and supply chain disruptions are still top headlines.
What Are the Financial Implications of COVID-19?
One of the major financial trends that came about with COVID-19 is that many people are feeling the pocketbook squeeze. Inflation rates have been rising rapidly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in October 2021 the U.S. inflation rate hit 6.2%. You’ve probably noticed higher prices on everything from groceries to household goods.
Supply chain disruptions are also causing supply and demand related price increases. With certain brands or products facing shortages, shoppers have fewer options to choose from when comparing prices. Some things, such as car microchips, are creating steadily rising prices for new goods. That means consumers may be paying more in repairs to keep an older car running.
In short, the pandemic has taken a major toll on people’s finances. According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of Americans believe that it’ll take them over three years to recover from the financial hardships during the pandemic.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Finances
While the full effects of COVID-19 might not be evident for decades to come, many experts are expecting costs to continue rising for the foreseeable future. Here are some ways you can help your bank account weather this storm:
1. Take a Good Look at Your Current Financial Situation—Then Budget
First things first—take stock of all your finances. What do you have in your checking account? Savings account? How about liquid assets? It’ll also be worth taking a look at your total credit limit. And if you can continue working from home, don’t forget to factor in your monthly paycheck.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what your finances look like, you’ll be able to make at least a rough budget. You should be budgeting in the best of times, but it’s more important now than ever.
2. If Possible, Start Saving Now
If you got a decent-sized tax refund this year and don’t have any pressing bills to pay, you might want to put most of it in savings. This can help provide a buffer if you have to take time off work to quarantine or need to stock up on rapid tests. It’s also just a good idea to have a rainy day fund for emergencies or unexpected job changes.
3. Try To Find Opportunities To Bring in Extra Income
While remote jobs were already a thing before the pandemic, COVID-19 forced many companies entirely online. And it turns out a lot of people aren’t in a rush to return back to the office.
Thanks to the internet, you don’t even have to go back to an office to make some money on the side. Here are a few websites you can use:
While the sites above are pretty trustworthy, be wary of scams. COVID-19 and the increase in work-from-home opportunities have created a whole new niche for criminals to target people just trying to boost their income.
4. Take Advantage of the Hot Employment Market
Many businesses are finding it hard to find and keep staff, so if you’re looking for a better—or just a second—job, now’s a great time to make some career moves. While many openings are in retail and customer-service-based industries, you can also find more remote opportunities than pre-pandemic, and the trades are still experiencing rapid job growth.
5. Stay Healthy
You’ve probably heard this a million times already, but we can’t stress this enough: Do what you can to keep yourself and your community safe and healthy. Follow CDC guidelines on how to avoid getting COVID-19.
Not only will avoiding COVID-19 help your physical health, but it could also help your financial health. Even if you get a mild strain and don’t suffer major physical effects, quarantining can still mean lots of time off from work.
What To Do If You’re Unemployed
Whether you were already unemployed when the pandemic hit or laid off due to COVID-19, there are a few things you can do to help your financial situation.
In order to meet additional needs due to coronavirus, there are a few companies that are trying to fill both full-time and part-time positions. These include some pretty reputable companies, such as Walgreens, Pizza Hut and Walmart. It’s worth looking at their websites and seeing what’s available.
The U.S. Department of Labor also has an unemployment insurance program that provides unemployment benefits to those who are eligible.
Need Help? You Have Options
If you’re still struggling to recover from a hit to the finances, there are resources available to you. Below, we’ve provided a list of helpful financial aid resources:
- SNAP Food Benefits
- Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Two years ago, no one expected the far-reaching consequences of COVID-19, but we’ve adjusted—and will continue to adjust. Whether that means more boosters, better access to free testing or changes in masking and social distancing requirements, taking steps to prepare and protect your financial health is always important.
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