The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns for our health and that of our loved ones. Economic uncertainty is now added to the situation. A few MAJORITY partners share their ideas for coping with it.
These days we are very concerned about the future. The fact that many families are home combined with the constant bombardment of news is contributing to more stress than normal. In effect, many of us don't have the peace of mind to think about finances.
However, this may actually be a good time to make an honest assessment of your financial situation and take some steps to improve it.
To get started, look for your bank statements, your bills, your credit cards, and your calculator. Then take note of the following tips to get out of the pandemic in good physical and financial health.
Exfinia's financial advisor, Marco Contreras, believes that now is the ideal time to do an analysis of your accounts, a service that his company is offering for free. They can help you know where you stand financially and help plan a budget.
"The second step would be to talk to your family. Have everybody on board. Let them know that some things will change and discuss ways to work as a team. Find ways to generate additional income. Finally, make a plan and stick to it," Marco suggests.
Keep an eye on your credit score
To start off on the right foot when things begin to stabilize, it's also essential to look at the status of your credit score. Make sure there is only one Social Security number under your name and that there are no outstanding debt payments you already paid.
Karen Blanco, an advisor to the Credit Recovery Group, recommends that you visit the website where you can download your reports from the three main credit bureaus. With that information in hand, you can consult a specialist about the best way to improve your credit score.
This is a free service that you can request once a year. Because of the economic situation due to the pandemic, the three credit bureaus agreed to make it available without charge once a week until 2021.
"A good credit history opens many doors for you, and sometimes it is more important than having cash," says Karen.
If you are an entrepreneur or have been laid-off, the most likely scenario is that you will face difficulties making some payments. If this is the case, contact your bank, your mortgage provider, your car dealer, and share your situation with them.
Elias Legra, a realtor in Miami, recommends facing the problem, instead of ignoring it. "When you ignore the problem, it gets worse. If you call them and they give you arrangements to pay, that's going to help you, because they won't show a negative on your credit report," he says.
Immigration attorney, Farah Kamal, supports this approach, "Pick up the phone and call. It may take you four or five hours to get through, but do it, let them know. They are going to help you out. They'll give you an extension. Everyone is trying to help," says Kamal.
Also trying to help is Julia Cedeño, a therapist in Houston. Her practice is still hosting support groups for children and adults, although virtually. She understands that these times can be stressful, so she recommends limiting the news intake. "It's very overwhelming, too much stimulus for your brain. So, limit the news, stay moving, spend time in nature. Nature is therapy in itself sometimes."
Following these recommendations could help you navigate through the tough times ahead. Reach out for help, talk to your family, ask for advice from the experts. That way, you can continue building your migrant dream.
After all, migrants are also a driving force against the pandemic.
Chelsie Kramer is a state organizer for New American Economy, an NGO that promotes understanding of migrants' impact on the US economy. She believes there will be one positive outcome of the current situation. "When this is all over, people will understand that migrants are making a huge impact on our world."