The devastating economic effects of COVID-19 have forced millions to live off emergency savings. But as the pandemic continues to affect Americans’ financial lives, many have reached their limits and are wondering where to turn next. If you’ve exhausted your emergency stash and are now running low because of economic and job instability, some creativity and new spending habits can help you make it through. Here’s what to do if you have run out of emergency savings:
Slash Your Budget Further
Take another look at your budget and eliminate everything that isn’t absolutely necessary so you can free up as much cash as possible to cover expenses. Be sure to review all recurring expenses such as online subscriptions and gym memberships.
Sell Things You’re Not Using
Consider selling items from around the house you no longer need or use. Online platforms like Facebook Marketplace, eBay and OfferUp are great places to put items up for sale and generate quick cash you can use for groceries, gas, and other immediate needs.
Pause Retirement Savings
If you’re contributing to retirement savings, now is a good time to hit pause. This could potentially free up several hundred dollars to reallocate toward bills or rebuild your emergency fund. Just be sure to resume retirement contributions when your financial situation improves.
Many routine bills, from cable to auto insurance, can be renegotiated to free up additional money. All it takes is a little research and some phone calls to ask for lower rates. If your current providers aren’t willing to budge, see if there are other, less expensive options and make the switch.
Call Lenders for Help
Call your creditors and ask about credit hardship programs. These programs usually last only a few months. While on the program the creditor will temporarily lower interest rates and credit limits while waiving fees, allowing payments to apply to your principal so you can make a dent in your balance.
If you’d like further help and a longer-term solution to credit card debt, take our free online financial review to see if a Debt Management Plan could work for you.
Take on a Side Hustle
Bringing in extra cash with a side hustle will go a long way toward covering your expenses and eventually replenishing your emergency fund. In addition to gig work opportunities through services like DoorDash or TaskRabbit, several retailers are hiring part-time workers. If you have the skills, you may also consider offering creative services like graphic design or freelance writing through platforms like Fiverr.