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Focus On What's Essential: 5 Personal Finance Tips For The Pandemic

Julia Reihs/KUT
A personal finance expert says families should focus on paying for only what's essential right now, like food, if they've lost work during the pandemic.

From Texas Standard:

As millions of Americans face unemployment and hard economic times because of the coronavirus pandemic, being smart about finances is more important than ever. Many will receive one-time stimulus checks, but that's only a small part of a person's or family's equation for making ends meet.

Joyce Cavanagh, a specialist in family economics at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, told Texas Standard that in tough financial times, prioritizing essential expenses is helpful.

"What are some things that you might be able to postpone without any dire consequences, and what are the things that absolutely have to be paid?" Cavanagh said.

Here are Cavanagh's five tips for personal finance during the pandemic:

– Prioritize essential expenses like food, rent or mortgages and utilities. And look for programs or services in your area that could help you cover or delay some of these expenses.

– Don't avoid creditors; let your credit card company know about your financial situation if it's affecting your ability to pay. And try to at least pay the minimum balance.

– File for any and all government assistance available if you've lost your job. You could now qualify for more benefits than just unemployment – benefits like food stamps, Medicaid and health insurance through

– Look out for scams, especially as stimulus checks start to arrive in the mail. The IRS will never call or email you; it only communicates through the U.S. Postal Service. There is also no such thing as a COVID-19 home testing kit.

– If you're hiring someone to help you navigate the benefits process, look for credentials: CFP – certified financial planner; or AFC – accredited financial counselor, are some examples.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.

Written by Caroline Covington.

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Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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