Your money: Staying on top of bills during COVID-19 pandemic

Marine Credit Union CEO Shawn Hanson's tips for financial relief during COVID-19 Pandemic
Financial Focus
Tips to stay on top of bill and limit financial stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – People who didn’t have an emergency fund prior to the COVID-19 pandemic likely have bills piling up. However, there are things people can do to keep up with payments and build more financial security.

Start an emergency account now

“One should have an emergency account with six months of income in it,” said Shawn Hanson, CEO of Marine Credit Union in La Crosse. “Start now and don’t feel like it’s hopeless. The stimulus package has a lot of things that are going to impact a lot of people in our country. It’s a very big package that has generous unemployment compensation for people who lose their jobs.”

Take a temporary job elsewhere

Many of us no longer have a steady job with an income to keep up with that stack of bills. The government is in the process of sending relief to millions of Americans. However, people will need to put forth some effort in order to mitigate financial stress.

“If you find yourself in a financial bind and aren’t working, consider taking a part-time or full-time job somewhere in an industry that is,” Hanson said.

Grocery stores and fast-food chains are hiring thousands of workers to keep essential services open.

Cut unnecessary spending

Hanson also recommends cutting your spending and live within your means.

“Most of us have discretionary spend items that we could certainly consider eliminating permanently or at least temporarily to get through a difficult time,” Hanson said.

Little purchases add up fast. It’s best to limit those purchases and set aside dollars at a time. Savings add up too and can help cover outstanding bills.

“If we overlook all of the $20 we would never come up with $100,” Hanson said. “I would encourage people to find savings in their budget where they can.”

Don’t ignore your bills

Ignoring bills will not make them go away. Call every credit or billing agency to find out if a deadline can be extended.

“This is not a normal time and extraordinary measures are necessary,” Hanson said. “I think you’d find that most creditors are willing to do whatever they can to help you out.”

Getting a part-time job or cutting that streaming service may not sound ideal but if it helps pay the rent that’s all that matters.

Educate yourself on finances.

Hanson suggests using this time to learn about finances. There are plenty of experts with books and podcasts available to help you start a budget and stick to it.