Your Finances During Times of Crisis
Professor Ana Silva has put together a list of resources to help you manage your finances during difficult times.
General Personal Finance Hubs
Protect Yourself Financially from the Impact of the Coronavirus. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Most CFPB resources are available in English and Spanish. You have access to links for situations such as:
- Having trouble paying bills or meeting financial obligations
- Experiencing a loss of income
- Being targeted by coronavirus scammers
- Being concerned about car loan payments
- Paying student loans during the coronavirus pandemic
- Protecting your credit during the pandemic
If you have trouble making payments, do not ignore the problem. Contact your service providers and lenders to let them know about:
- Your current situation
- How much you can afford to pay, and
- When you may resume your regular payments. Be realistic, do not over promise
Ask if they are willing to accept a lower payment from you. They may agree to a lower payment for a longer period, or may instead allow you to delay or skip a payment.
Your Money: A Hub for Help During the Coronavirus Crisis
Here you will have access to great articles about managing your finances during the crisis and to useful links to resources (Note: you will need to create a free account with the New York Times).
CFPB’s tools and resources to use for yourself, your family or the people you serve
Includes worksheets, handouts and audio recordings organized by topic and by audience.
The Coronavirus Check (the Economic Impact Payment)
The IRS also has a link to check for the status of your payment:
- If you have filed taxes for years 2018 or 2019, click here: Get My Payment. If you have not filed taxes for 2019, you can still do since the new deadline is July 15, 2020. If possible, include your direct deposit banking information on the return to receive the money faster. Direct deposits will be sent first. As of 4/16/20, some deposits have already arrived to consumer accounts. The rest will probably arrive in batches.
- If you don’t file taxes, go to Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here
- Where you can file your 2019 taxes online with the support of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
VITA volunteers offer free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and/or limited English speaking.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
- Apply for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts
- Information on unemployment in Mass and the coronavirus
- Step-by-step instructions to file for a new unemployment claim in Mass
Note: The new federal law (CARES Act) allows states to extend benefits to self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors and workers with limited work history. It also provides an extra $600 per week as well as an additional 13 weeks of benefits. Learn More
Looking for a job
Career One Stop
Provides resources with information about employment benefits, resumes, training, creating a job search and more.
Provides links and information for finding a job in Mass.
- Department of Labor
- Snag a Job
- Simply Hired
- Nation Job
Reevaluating your monthly budget (spending plan)
Figure out what your current income will be and whether the money that you expect to come in will cover your expected monthly expenses. The sooner you reevaluate your cash flow budget the more options you will have to make adjustments. Ideally, prepare a monthly budget broken down in week by week.
Action Step: Review (or create) your cash flow budget to understand where your money is really going. Optional tools: •
Managing your expenses and bills
Most families will not be able to spend at the same rate as before the crisis. If you are one of them, look for ideas on how to cut back on spending. Talk with the members of your household so that everyone understands the new situation and the changes that need to happen at home. Talk also with extended family and friends about your concerns and brainstorm ideas with them, don’t do this alone!
Behind on Your Mortgage or Car Payments Because of Coronavirus
If you are behind in your mortgage:
- Guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options (from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
- Behind on your mortgage (from the Federal Trade Commission, FTC)
- Behind on car payments (FTC)
Accessing Benefits and Community Resources
- Mass 211
- File your taxes, even if you are not obligated to file because of your income. You may be eligible for a tax credit and get a tax refund!
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank (Scroll down to find all the locations in Lawrence)
- Food Pantry Project Bread (800-645-8333)
- Food Stamps (SNAP) (866-950-3663)
- Food Pantry Locations throughout MA
- Food Pantries - Lawrence, MA
- Grab-and-Go Meals at the Merrimack Valley YMCA
- Emergency Meal Sites (within Boston)
Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) pays for health care for certain low and medium income people living in Massachusetts.
If you have lost part or all of your income, you may qualify for MassHealth even if you did not before the crisis.
If you don’t qualify for MassHealth, the state of Massachusetts has extended the enrollment period for the marketplace healthcare coverage (“the Health Connector”) through May 25. Learn more
Beware of Scams!
Explore the links below to learn how to protect yourself from scams that are currently happening during the coronavirus crisis.
- Job scams
- Coronavirus checks
- Coronavirus treatments
- CDC-related phone scams and phishing email attacks
Report any scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has a complaint assistant system that will help you place a scam complaint step by step.
Disclaimer: In preparation for this document, every effort has been made to offer the most current, correct and clearly expressed information possible. Nevertheless, unintentional errors in information may occur and information may become outdated. The material contained on this document is provided for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial, medical or professional advice. The information and data in this document has been compiled from a variety of external sources and is subject to change without notice. The Merrimack College Financial Capability Center does not control these external sources and links and is not responsible for the content included in them.