by Christy Bieber | March 18, 2020
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Take these six steps, including checking out your telehealth options.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has resulted in drastic changes to life around the world. Millions have been caught off guard by these sudden, swift, and surprising changes. It's natural to feel frightened and unprepared for what's to come during these uncertain times.
The good news is that there are some steps you can take to be ready for the challenges of the coming weeks as the world comes together to fight this new health threat. Here are six steps you can take now.
State and local governments have begun imposing strict restrictions on when and where you can go as social distancing measures are put into place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While grocery stores are unlikely to close even in the event of a near-complete lockdown, it's still a good idea to stock up on non-perishables to minimize trips out of the house and prepare for interruptions in the supply chain.
Nonperishables to stock up on include:
If you can't find some of these items in your local big box store, consider checking smaller grocery stores, dollar or discount stores, drug stores, or home improvement stores that may have more items in stock. And you don't need to buy hundreds of rolls of toilet paper or canned goods -- a supply that will last you two weeks to one month should be more than sufficient.
The financial impacts of COVID-19 are likely to be far-reaching, and there's a very good chance a recession will result. With recessions come income cuts and job losses. You need to be prepared in case your income declines, or in case you or a loved one becomes ill and you can't work.
Ideally, you'll have an emergency fund of three to six months of living expenses in a high-yield savings account. If you don't, you'll want to build as large a fund as possible, as quickly as possible. Steps to begin include:
You want to be prepared if the worst happens and you need medical care. To do this:
Medicare has immediately moved to expand telehealth options so at-risk seniors can schedule virtual visits with their doctors and avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus. Your insurance may also cover telehealth, so you can avoid going to the doctor's office until your physician tells you to seek in-person care.
To find out about your coverage, call your insurance company using the number on the back of your card. You'll also want to ask your doctor's office what options they're making available for telehealth. If your local physician isn't providing this service, your insurance company should refer you to someone who is.
If your company offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefit, a free consultation with a telehealth provider may also be included. Some EAP programs also provide mental health counseling if you're experiencing fear or anxiety about coronavirus, or are struggling with social distancing.
The federal government is currently at work on multiple stimulus bills aimed at helping the American public through these challenging times. Benefits may include expanded unemployment, paid sick leave, and more options for food assistance, as well as low-interest loans and other provisions for small businesses.
When you're shut in the house, it's a great time to learn more about managing your finances. You can check out our complete guide to budgeting methods, our guide to balance transfers, our guide to brokerages, and our home-buying guide to brush up on some common financial issues.
There is likely to be a lot of uncertainty in the weeks and months to come as the world learns to respond to a novel virus. But by taking these steps, you'll be as prepared as possible to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your own financial situation.
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