You would think that a pandemic will only threaten your health. But no. It can also threaten your finances!
Take this coronavirus pandemic as an example. We’ve been stuck at home since the second week of March. It’s almost the end of April and the ECQ is still in effect. And if the rumors are true, we might face another extension if the positive cases will not improve.
How does that affect our finances?
Well, the ECQ is keeping us at home and closing a lot of businesses. With nobody outside to make purchases like they used to, companies will lose money. That means employers will have no money to pay their workers.
And without an income… well, you know what happens.
So, the question is, how can you financially survive a pandemic?
I have two sets of tips based on whether you have an emergency fund or not.
If you have an emergency fund…
Congratulations! Having an emergency fund means you are a mature and responsible adult who made plans for the future. I’m proud of you!
Thanks to your emergency fund, you are in a better position compared to others. But you still need to focus on stretching the limited resources that you have.
The first thing that you need to do is to revise your budget plan. You need to make it as frugal as possible. Stick to what you need to survive. If it’s not necessary to survive don’t spend on it. Since we are all stuck at home, that means our expenses are limited to food and groceries. To limit your time going out, plan weekly grocery runs. If you buy in bulk, you can save more.
Put your utility bills next in your list of priorities. I doubt if they will cut your water or electricity if you cannot pay. But if you already have the money budgeted for that, it’s best to pay for it already.
For your rent, talk to your landlord. Under the Bayanihan We Heal As One Act, there is a 30-day grace period for rental payments. You can use this to help stretch your finances.
The other expenses on your list should be postponed – if it’s allowed. Banks are very lenient right now and are also mandated to extend their grace periods. So keep your money and use it for food.
There are cash-assistance programs from the local and national governments for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You need to research what these are so you’ll know which of these benefits you are qualified to receive. More on these will be discussed briefly in the next part of this article.
If you don’t have an emergency fund…
What if you don’t have an emergency fund? Well, things will be a lot harder – but it’s not impossible to survive this.
The government has rolled out several initiatives to help the “no work, no pay” families survive.
We don’t like to beg but at this point, we really have nothing to lose. Pay attention to what your barangay officials and local government units (LGUs) are saying. They are tasked to prepare relief goods and monetary assistance for everyone.
If you are employed, ask your employer if they have benefits or financial assistance for you. If none, the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) also has initiatives to help under the TUPAD and other programs.
For the rest, the DSWD will also provide cash assistance through the Social Amelioration Program.
If you are a Senior, PWD (Persons with Disability), or Single Parent, the LGUs were mandated to release pensions and cash benefits early.
Admittedly, we are seeing reports that not everyone is getting the relief packs or cash assistance. You need to be persistent in fighting for your rights.
As a last resort, you can always ask for help from your family, friends, and neighbors. We’ve seen a lot of stories about Filipinos helping one another. Trust in the Bayanihan spirit of Filipinos. If you ask, someone will help.
Hope this helps you figure out how to financially survive this pandemic.
I also strongly advise you to find other sources of income. It doesn’t matter if you are still getting an income or not. You should consider securing your source of income. It’s better to have 2 sources of income. If your day job is compromised, you will not be financially helpless.
Stay safe everyone!