Woman using calculator.

Many Americans are facing drastically reduced income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some people have lost their jobs, or have reduced work available to them. With the CARES Act supplemental relief expiring at the end of July, extra federal unemployment benefits may soon be reduced as well. Below are our tips on surviving on less.

1. Analyze the numbers.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the key time to update your budget for a loss of income. You need to figure out what income you do have (if any) before you can figure out what you are able to spend.

2. Talk to your service providers and financial institutions.

If you are unable to make your rent/mortgage, utility, credit card/loan, or other payments, you should reach out to your providers and financial institutions as soon as possible. Find out if you can place any bills on forbearance or another type of payment arrangement until your hardship ends. The more transparent you are with your providers, the more they will be willing to work with you.

3. Immediately cut all non-essentials.

This means anything that is not essential to your life or work. Any discretionary spending, such as entertainment (including streaming services or subscriptions) should be put on hold temporarily so that you can put your money towards the cost of living expenses, such as rent, gas, groceries, and utilities. You will need to be ruthless, and expect to lose some discretionary comforts. However, these things will be there when your income returns to a more stable state.

4. Apply for any and all assistance.

Go to your county’s website for health and human services to find out what kind of public assistance they offer. This can include food assistance, childcare assistance, health insurance, work search programs, and transportation certificates. Those services can provide help with everyday expenses, but application processing can be drawn out. The faster you apply, the quicker you can receive benefits.

5. Update any support payments.

If you are paying for spousal, child, or other support, you should consider filing with the court to have those payments modified based on your current income or lack of income. If you are not making required support payments, you could be on the hook for arrears, plus interest. It is in your best interest to ask for a modification with the courts to avoid any judgment against you.

6. Keep looking for additional income.

If you are out of work, turn job searching into your new full-time position. Even if you are unable to find a job in your industry, there are still many employers still hiring for various positions. Don’t be afraid to take a position that pays less than you are accustomed to or in a different field. If you are struggling to make your basic expenses, any income can help.

7. Explore odd jobs.

Another source of income could come from using your skills, talents, or hobbies into paying gigs. Figure out what you can offer, and then reach out to your network for help promoting yourself and what you can do. This could be anything from selling masks you sew, handyman work, cooking, cleaning, or auto repair.

8. Learn to DIY.

Many expenses can be saved by doing things yourself that you would normally pay someone else to do for you. Learn basic lawn care so you can cancel your gardener. Wash and clean out your car at home rather than taking it to the detailer. Clip and groom your pets yourself instead of taking them to a groomer. You can also learn to do your own personal care routines, such as giving yourself a manicure. You will be surprised how quickly you start saving money by doing things for yourself.

9. Stay home.

Staying at home will not only help you stay within social distancing guidelines but you will also save money. By not going out, you can save on gas costs, eating out or other entertainment expenses, as well as avoiding unnecessary shopping sprees.

10. Find free ways to stay entertained and healthy.

Staying at home may not seem very exciting, but it is a great opportunity to find new hobbies, catch up on your reading list, or renew an old talent you haven’t had time for lately. It is also a great opportunity to focus on your health by exercising and meditating at home. Selfcare does not have to cost anything, and you will be happier for it.

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