COVID-19: Ten Ideas on What to do
The most important thing to remember is that we will get through this.
What we do in response to the spread of COVID-19 is largely driven by how we choose to impact others. As a society, we want to ensure that everyone who gets sick from COVID-19 has access to the care they need, which includes health professionals who are healthy and well. Like many people, I’m hunkered down in my apartment, which is also my home office, keeping my social distance. What can I do to help in this situation? I believe a good stress reduction technique--and we all could use a little less stress right now--is to think about how we can safely help others. Below I have listed ten helpful ideas to consider at this time that can help you and others.
- Our frontline defense against COVID-19 is the healthcare professionals: every person who is part of a healthcare system, from the hospital janitor to the doctor. I heard that some healthcare workers are choosing to sleep in their garages to avoid the possibility of infecting their families. If you know of someone that is a member of our frontline defense, please think of something that you can do to help them out - drop-off a home-cooked meal to them, offer to run errands for them, buy supplies for them, send them a thank you note, help out with their kids. These people work dutifully and tirelessly. They need our support, encouragement, and help.
- Stay connected - regularly check on your immediate family and close friends, especially the elderly and frail among us. Be sure to speak with them and remember that it can be difficult for people to ask for help. Sometimes it may take several calls.
- Start living on your skeleton budget, the basic essentials only. We don’t know how long this situation will last or how bad it will get. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Those that have an emergency fund are especially well-positioned for times like this.
- Be careful of retail therapy. Some of us will have a strong urge to spend to feel a little better. Keep your local small business owners in mind and give them priority when you are spending, and if you need a little retail therapy keep that local too.
- Be proactive and take actions if you know that you are going to be late on paying your mortgage or car loan. Lenders may be able to strike a forbearance agreement with you, reduce or allow you to delay payment. The unpaid amount can be added to your loan amount, thus protecting your credit record.
- Be proactive and take actions if you know that you are going to be late paying your rent. There may be options available to you to reduce the burden at this time. Chances are, you will not be the only one to request assistance, and it is always better to inquire before you default.
- If you have been thinking of refinancing your mortgage, now is a good time to get the paperwork done. Now is not the time to be making extra mortgage payments.
- Avoid major decisions at this time if you can. We are all responding to a major change in our lives, this is a stressful time and is not conducive for making sound decisions.
- If you are worried about your 401(k) or brokerage account, speak to your financial advisor. They expect your call at a time like this and can help put your mind at ease. A little tip: do not look at your account balance! Remember that you are investing for the long run.
- Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Affected by Covid-19. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act enables small businesses to apply for up to $2 million in assistance via low-interest rate loans. If you have a business in an eligible county you can submit your online application here. To date, only a few counties have been approved in the Tri-state area. In New York the approved counties are Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester; in Connecticut, the approved counties are Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland, Windham. New Jersey currently has no approved counties. You can see the current list of approved counties here.
Remember, helping others will reduce your stress.