As Covid-19 continues to spread across the country and around the world, many of us are now facing financial challenges.
Since the nationwide lockdown has been implemented, a lot of workers in the Philippines are now on “no work, no pay” status.
And two weeks into the enhanced community quarantine, many people have little to no budget left for their necessities and personal expenses.
Here are some tips on how you can manage your finances:
1. Review your Budget
It’s not easy to deal with the uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but reviewing your family budget should be a critical part of your response strategy.
This is the best time for you to assess how much money is coming in (if your income has not been affected or how much money you have left from your last paycheck) and how much money you spend for your expenses.
In short, know your income and expenses.
If your income has already taken a hit because of Covid-19, you simply can’t continue to budget your money the same way.
That’s why it is important that you sit down and take a closer look at your budget plan. Get a pen and paper and write it down.
If your income has not been affected, you are lucky. But still, you need to manage your finances by living within or even below your means.
If your job has been put on hold and you don’t know when you’re going to receive your next paycheck, you might need to cut back on your expenses.
2. Cut back or Cut out Certain Expenses
Cutting back on expenses means that you may only buy necessities like food and important grocery items.
Cut out necessary expenses like unhealthy food and extra cleaning items.
If your budget is really tight, it’s best to live below your means.
Buy your food at the wet market. The foods are cheaper and fresher there compared to the supermarket.
If you can’t go to the wet market or the supermarket to buy your food supply, you may order your food online.
Buy your grocery items at the supermarket, not at the convenience store. Go there early or when there are fewer customers.
Buy only what you need. Do not buy a lot and hoard (especially alcohol and disinfectants).
Actually, since there are no longer available alcohol anywhere, we just ordered online but we haven’t received it yet. The delivery fee alone was P150. It was expensive but it’s a necessity right now. I just hope it will be delivered soon.
3. Use your Emergency Fund or Savings
If you have little or no budget left, look at what you have in your emergency fund or savings account that you might be able to tap into.
Good for you if you have an emergency fund or extra savings. You did a great job of saving money for the rainy days.
No amount of money is too big or too small. Even if you only have P1,000 or P10,000 in savings, that’s money you could use to help you cover your expenses until your income picks back up.
But if you don’t have any savings, check if you can use your bank account’s maintaining balance.
Break your piggy bank. Check your bag and wallet for some cash. Or maybe you have some bills hidden in your drawer or under your bed.
Add up what you have to see how you could use that to supplement your income.
You may also try to ask for financial help or borrow money from your family and friends.
If you have a credit card and you know how to handle it, you may also use it this time. But again, be wise when using your credit card. Don’t overspend.
4. Paying Home Mortage or Rent and Utility Bills
If you have the budget and extra savings, pay your home mortgage or rent and your utility bills on time.
If you have tight budget, delayed payments are acceptable.
If you’re renting, it’s best to talk to your landlord/landlady and let them know that your payment will be delayed.
You will not be evicted right away if you cannot pay on time. I’m sure they will understand and be more considerate.
However, if you have just enough budget for the month and you don’t know when your next paycheck will come in, I suggest you keep any cash you have and reserve it for your upcoming expenses while we’re on home quarantine.
Use your remaining cash wisely. Don’t spend it on unnecessary expenses.
5. Free Relief Goods and Transpo Assistance
The government has been providing assistance through the Local Government Unit or LGU.
In our barangay, residents were given free relief goods which consist of 2 kilos of rice, 7 canned goods, 5 noodles, Vitamin C tablets, 3-in-1 coffee, cupcakes, and face mask.
The goods vary depending on where you live. Don’t feel bad if you receive fewer goods. Let’s try to understand that our municipalities and barangays have different income and budget.
Instead, let us be grateful for whatever assistance we receive.
Let me also share how we got free transpo assistance from our barangay.
My mama was staying at my brother’s house in Cubao when the lockdown started. I’ve been wanting to pick her up so she can come to our house, but because of the lockdown and to keep everyone safe from the Covid-19 outbreak, we decided to just stay where we are and let her stay at my brother’s house for the time being.
These past few days, she’s been complaining that she doesn’t get enough sunlight or fresh air and she cannot exercise or walk around because she’s stuck inside the house.
I called our barangay and asked if it’s possible to pick up my mom from Cubao using our car. After coordinating the request with the barangay officials, they told me that we can pick her up but we need to use the barangay’s car with a red plate so as not to be questioned at the checkpoints.
With the help of our barangay, Mama is now staying with us in our house. And big thanks to our very active SK Chairman, Bam Valle, who drove the car for us.
So if you need any help, whether it be for food, medical, or transpo assistance, call your barangay. They might be able to help.
6. Online Banking Facilities
Now that we are on strict home quarantine, let us take advantage of the online banking facilities that are available to us.
You can transfer money online.
You can pay your utility bills and credit card bills online.
You can also purchase items online.
But please beware of scams.
Some banks have been advising their clients and customers to ignore emails, text messages, or calls from people or companies that offer assistance related to Covid-19, especially, if they are asking for your personal information.
Banks will NEVER ask for your PIN (Personal Identification Number), Account Number, Card Number, or any Personal Information to verify your account.
If in doubt, always call the bank.
7. Calamity and Emergency Loans
If you need cash while we’re on Enhanced Community Quarantine, you may avail of the Calamity Loans being offered by the GSIS, SSS, and Pag-IBIG Fund to its qualified members.
Depending on your monthly contributions, you can avail as much as P20,000 from GSIS and SSS.
Calamity loan applications can be done online for SSS and Pag-IBIG while GSIS members can apply for the loan through the GSIS kiosks.
8. Use Credit Cards Wisely
Most credit card companies have extended the payment due dates of credit card bills and waived penalties and late charges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is good news. However, if you have the funds to pay your credit card bills now without compromising your budget for your necessities, then pay it.
It may be extended for a month or more, but you still have to pay it. Having too much to pay for after all of these issues are over might stress you out.
Pay your bills on time if you can.
But if you really have no means to pay your credit card bills right now, then wait until you can.
If you still can’t settle your bills after the grace period, call the bank. They might be able to arrange easier payment terms for you.
Also, make sure you use your credit card wisely. It’s tempting to use the credit card when you’re at the supermarket, but please mind your spending habits.
Just buy what you need even if you have plenty of balance in your credit card.
I’m sure you don’t want to get into too much debt and and add in too much weight after this Covid-19 pandemic.
Like what I said earlier, try to live within, or better yet, below your means.
And if possible, don’t ever take out cash from your credit card unless it’s your last resort.
9. Financial Assistance from the Government
After President Rodrigo Duterte approved the bill that grants him additional powers to address the COVID-19 crisis here in the Philippines, some of us may receive
a monthly ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 emergency subsidy for up to two months.
This is a huge help for the 18 million low-income households in the Philippines and we hope that it will be given soon.
Take advantage of this financial assistance and use it wisely.
While cutting back on spending can help make budgeting easier during a financial crisis, it’s likely that you won’t be able to stop spending completely.
But there are some ways that you can save money as you spend, starting with creating a good budget plan.
If your existing budget is fundamentally changed by the disruption of the Covid-19 crisis, it makes sense to take a deep breath, consider what options are available now and revise as needed.
It may be challenging, but remember, this too shall pass. We can get through this with God’s help. Kapit lang.