One of the first things persons who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic will need to do is take account of their finances.

“It’s never easy coping with a job loss. In fact, it is regarded as one of lives most traumatic experiences, but the reality is that you can get through it once you can quickly device a survival plan,” says Rose Miller, financial literacy expert who leads the JN Foundation’s BeWi$e financial empowerment programme.

Addressing the JN Bank Redesigning Your 2020 Goals online series recently, she gave this advice on what you should you do if you are laid off without a plan:

  1. Determine How You Are Spending Your Money: When times are good, most people do not think about how they spend money.

“We know how much the mortgage or rent, and monthly car payments are, but we don’t pay attention to daily spending. How much is spent on groceries? What about utilities and insurance? What about fast food?” she asked.

The JN Foundation grants manager said persons must strive to be more aware about how they spend their money, as this will force them to spend it more carefully.

  1. See Where You Can Cut Back: “If you’re facing a layoff, you need to come up with a plan for cutting expenses. Develop a budget that eliminates most unnecessary expenses. The goal is to cut back on those expenses substantially,” Mrs Miller advised. She said persons should focus on the essentials, mortgage or rent, food, utilities, and their medical needs. All other expenses, including entertainment, fast food and clothes, can be eliminated or significantly slashed.
  1. Consolidate your Loans: “If you are already in debt, particularly credit card debt, you may want to consolidate your loans into a single monthly payment with a lower interest rate. If you own a home, consider a low-interest home equity loan,” Mrs Miller said.
  2. Take Advantage of Any Payment or Relief Programmes: Keep your ears to the ground, so that you do not miss out on any opportunity for assistance from the government, the church or corporate Jamaica,” Mrs Miller recommended.

Many organisations, including financial institutions, have announced measures through which they will be providing relief or assistance to persons experiencing financial difficulties, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has also announced relief packages for affected groups and some church organisations have been collecting donations, to assist the most vulnerable.

Mrs Miller said persons in dire need of financial assistance should not be afraid to take advantage of any of these opportunities.

  1. Use Your Skills or Talents to Make Money: You will be able to stretch your savings if you have additional income. Consider using your talents to make some money. While it would be best if you could find temporary or part-time work in your field, your hobbies and other interests may offer possibilities for income.

Mrs Miller advised that persons who can sew can take advantage of the increased need for face masks. “Other ways you can take advantage of the opportunities created by the pandemic is to offer a delivery service. If you have a reliable motor car, put it to use by offering to make food and other type of deliveries at a reasonable cost. You can also consider selling ground provisions from the truck of your motor vehicle,” she advised.

She said, for example, that persons with skills in English, mathematics or other subjects can offer online tutoring to students currently out of school.