If you’ve been laid off due to COVID-19, here are some tips to hopefully help keep your expenses low.
It’s official — the world is F@&% right now. With the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing, states all over the nation have mandated the closure of restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment establishments. With no time to spare, hourly workers have been placed in the compromised position of unemployment. If there is any time to learn how to stretch a dollar, that time is now.
Here are some tips to hopefully help cut some expenses while you wait out these temporary closures.
Apply for unemployment
If you’ve been laid off, furloughed (aka temporary layoff) or even have a reduction in hours due to no fault of your own, you may qualify for unemployment. If you’re in this boat and haven’t applied for unemployment already — file a claim ASAP. It can take time before payments come through. Currently, many state unemployment departments are being bombarded with claims, so you could expect even longer delays than normal.
Qualifications vary state by state and some are making exceptions due to the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to find out more about your state’s qualifications to apply.
Scan your bank account for unnecessary subscriptions
Seriously, in this day and age it’s easy to find you’ve been paying $2.99 a month for some app you totally forgot about. Perhaps you have a gym membership you haven’t used in over a year, or maybe you’re paying for Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
These things add up! And nothing is worse than thinking you have a certain amount in your bank account to then surprisingly be charged $119 because you forgot your Amazon Prime membership renewed this month.
Apply for food assistance
In times like these, we need all the assistance we can get. Applying for food stamps (SNAP Food Benefits) could help supplement or even cover your food costs during this time.
SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — is a federal program that provides monthly benefits, based on income, to purchase food. These benefits work like money and can be used at most grocery stores. There are limits to what can be purchased with food stamps, like no alcohol, hot/prepared foods, pet supplies, etc. To learn more about qualifying and to apply contact your local SNAP office by selecting your state here. Regardless if you qualify for food assistance, make sure you are budgeting your expenses for at least a month’s worth of groceries. Stocking up on items that won’t go bad and that you can make multiple meals out of can help tide you over during this time.
Contact your loan providers
If you have federal student loans through the Department of Education, call your loan providers right away and inform them that you are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. In a recent press release, The Department of Education announced that the office of Federal Student Aid will automatically lower interest rates to 0% on all federal student loans for at least 60 days. They are also offering an administrative forbearance for those who request one. This will suspend monthly payments and stop interest charges for at least 60 days. Anyone who has not made their student loan payment within 30 days will automatically enroll into this forbearance.
For private student loans, call your loan provider and let them know you are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. Other major service providers like Navient and Sallie Mae have similar forbearance programs to help you. For all other types of loans, there may not be options as of now. Nevertheless, you should call your loan provider to ask about options. Open communication will help you understand any consequences for late or missed payments, and help you make more informed decisions on how to proceed.
Contact your landlord
While the conversation might be uncomfortable, the best course of action is to call your landlord to let them know of your financial situation and ask if there are any options available to you. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has implemented a nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium to postpone foreclosures and evictions of FHA-Insured mortgages for at least 60 days. This national moratorium leaves out millions of renters nationwide who are particularly vulnerable to eviction.
Many states and cities across the nation are working on policies to protect renters during the COVID-19 health crisis, including temporarily freezing eviction hearings. The National Low Income Housing Coalition is a great resource for more information on what is being done nationally and locally to aid and protect renters during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Apply for any applicable relief funds available
This is a humanitarian crisis. There are organizations out there that have and are currently working on gathering donations and resources to help service industry workers like yourself get through this economic and health crisis.
We’ve been collecting information and sharing these organizations on our social media channels and blog. Follow us to stay updated on programs that are working to provide assistance to industry workers — and if you know of any that we’ve missed let us know! This is a time where our community needs to come together (metaphorically speaking) as we wait out what’s to come. The hospitality industry has been through a lot, but we’re made up of the most resilient, compassionate and empathetic people and we will get through this.
Our world has taken an unimaginable blow, and Poached wants to be there as a resource. If there is anything you have questions about please reach out through comments, social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to provide answers and resources!