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Have you lost your job due to COVID-19? Here are six things you should do.
By ATB Financial 20 April 2020 4 min read
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought its share of challenges and concerns for Albertans. With physical distancing measures in place for the sake of our collective health, many businesses have temporarily closed, and many Albertans are experiencing job layoffs, less income or fewer hours.
If you’re one of the many Albertans navigating a job loss due to the coronavirus, we’re here to help. Here are six things you can do to help you manage your money and financial situation through this current crisis.
1. Review government benefit or relief programs available
The federal and provincial governments have increased certain benefits programs, while also introducing new benefits in response to COVID-19. You’ve likely heard of them mentioned in the media or through loved ones, but if you’ve lost your employment or have a decreased income, it’s important to review each program to understand what you qualify for, where additional income may be available and what you need to do to apply for it.
If you’ve stopped working due to COVID-19, the federal government has created Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide eligible Canadians with a temporary income for up to 4 months.
Also, in addition to regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, the government has implemented EI sickness benefits if you are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
Our resource pages offer comprehensive lists of all of the federal and provincial government benefits, programs and subsidies implemented for individuals and businesses as a response to the coronavirus.
2. Reach out to your financial institution to understand relief programs in place
You might be carrying lines of credit, loans, mortgages or credit cards with your financial institution, which could be causing even more stress for you at this time.
If you’re looking for ways to “pause” some of your debt payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a deferral.
ATB has launched a customer relief program to help you manage your finances during this time. It’s called the ATB Customer Relief program. Payments can be deferred on any of your ATB loans, lines of credit, mortgages and Mastercard ® for up to six months.1
3. Understand your monthly expenses/income
Once you understand what programs or benefits are available to you and how they might affect your cash flow, it’s time to be proactive with managing your money with limited income.
We know it might feel like your world has been turned upside down and even though it can be uncomfortable and daunting, thinking about how to manage your monthly budget and finances is critical at this time.
You need to gain a clear understanding of how much money is coming in, how much money is going out, and how much money you have in savings. This will help you chart your course.
Use this Budget Worksheet to identify your income as well as listing all of your fixed and variable expenses. You might want to look at your most recent bank account or credit card statement to see how you’re spending your money, as well as identifying any recurring payments, like subscription services.
4. Understand “needs” from “wants” to reduce your expenses
You may have some variable expenses that you can reduce or take away during this time. This could include luxury items, subscriptions you no longer need, dining expenses or online shopping. These are different from necessary fixed or variable expenses, such as groceries, medications or veterinary bills.
We know this is hard to do, but taking away some of your “wants” in the short-term will help give you a better cash flow position during these unsettling times.
Also keep in mind that some of your fixed or variable expenses may be lower if you’re not working. For example, you might be fueling your car less often, or spending less on clothing if you’re not going to the office or a job site each day. If you’re isolating at home, you might be spending less on dining as you’re likely cooking for yourself. Consider these savings as you create your new budget.
5. Always keep your budget handy and updated
Once you have your budget in place, save a version of it on your personal device. If you gain access to additional funds or your cash flow changes, you can easily update your budget and adjust it as needed.
Having your budget handy will also ensure you’re keeping it in check so that you’re able to get through these tough times. If one expense is unexpectedly higher for the month, you can easily go back to your budget to see if you can cut a different expense.
You can also use budgeting apps like ATB TrackIt. Advantages of a budgeting app are that it allows you to track in real-time and makes it easier to keep track of spending on credit cards.
6. Save, if you can
This may not be a reality for everyone during these times, but if you can, save.
If you have an emergency fund, you may be dipping into it to get through the next few months and that emergency fund will need to be replenished. Even a small amount every month will help build the fund back up again.
As always, ATB is here to help. To talk with us, please call 1-800-332-8383 or email us directly. In the meantime, stay home, wash your hands, practice physical distancing, and take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
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RRSP Express and RRSP Max It loans are not eligible for the deferral program. During the deferral period, interest will continue to accrue at the interest rate of your applicable loan, line of credit, mortgage or Mastercard. Some conditions apply, so please contact ATB for further details.