The past year has been tough on the bank accounts of many American households. In fact, research from over the summer found that more than half of all U.S. households had suffered at least some lost income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic—and recent economic disruptions are likely to cause additional losses.
If you’re experiencing financial instability, here are six steps that may allow you to claim supplemental income, reduce monthly expenses, and buy yourself more time to find new sources of income.
1. File for unemployment benefits.
Unemployment benefits are the top source of financial relief if you’ve experienced a loss of income due to being fired or laid off from your job. Recent amendments to these benefits also provide unemployment to gig workers and other types of employment that previously wouldn’t have qualified for this benefit program.
The sooner you file, the faster these benefits will reach your bank account. Missouri residents are able to file for unemployment online.
2. Request a forbearance on your student loans.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to place your student loans into forbearance. In forbearance, your student loans will continue to accrue interest, but you won’t be obligated to make any payments during that period of time.
Forbearance is a simple way to reduce your monthly expenses in response to a loss of income, giving you immediate financial relief as you figure out your next steps.
3. Ask your utilities companies, mortgage provider, and/or landlord about temporary relief options.
For customers facing financial hardship, utilities companies, landlords, mortgage lenders, and even credit card companies may offer relief programs or flexibility in their payment terms. These measures can help you reduce late fees and penalties, in addition to giving you time to find new income and catch up on what you owe.
These programs and their flexibility can vary, but it’s worth reaching out whenever you’re unable to make your payments. The more proactive you are in communicating, the more it might save you in the long run.
4. Contact your local Community Action Partnership (CAP) office.
Many taxpaying individuals are unaware of the various tools and resources that can help them navigate a loss of income and get them back on the right financial track. Community Action Partnership (CAP) is a nonprofit that aims to connect individuals with exactly the tools and resources they need to stabilize their finances and avoid severe fallout stemming from a loss of income.
You can contact a local CAP office to get more information about the resources and options available to you—including local, state, and national assistance programs you may not be aware of.
5. Shop for lower insurance rates on your home, auto, and other insurance policies.
A loss of income is the perfect time to reassess current expenses—especially ones where the price is negotiable or subject to change. Insurance policies are a great place to start: If you haven’t pulled quotes from other insurance providers lately, it’s worth at least asking around with home, auto, and other insurance providers.
You can simplify this process by working with an insurance broker. Brokers will gather quotes from a wide range of companies and present you with the most cost-effective options, which can lead to significant savings as you try to curb your spending.
6. Seek out local assistance for food, childcare, and other essential needs.
If your loss of income is threatening your ability to meet the basic needs of your household, local assistance can help cover essential gaps related to food, childcare, clothing, and other basic needs.
By leaning on food banks, organizations distributing donated goods, and other community service programs, you can make sure your family’s needs are met while preserving your bank account balance and prioritizing other, more important bills.
If a lost income has you fearing for your financial stability, the best thing you can do is take action now to seek financial relief. By using assistance programs, payment deferrals and other forms of support, you can give yourself more time to find a new source of income and get your finances back on track to meet your long-term goals.
Take an active role in creating financial relief through smart spending habits—download “A Complete Guide to Budgeting” today.