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  • Many people are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We have no control over how long this economic chaos will last, so try shifting your focus to the things you can control.
  • During this crisis, make sure you’re saving what you can; protecting your family and income with insurance; working toward your financial goals; and managing your debt.
  • Read more personal finance coverage »

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted Americans’ daily lives and threatened the livelihood of millions.

These times are laying bare many of our biggest financial insecurities — What happens if I lose my job? What do I do if I can’t afford rent or my credit-card payment this month? Will my nest egg ever recover? 

While you can’t control when the markets will rebound or how soon we’ll be able to get back to our normal routines, there are some things you can control when it comes to your money.

1. How much you save

If you still have a paycheck coming in, now is the time to be persistent and disciplined about saving.  

During a recent Instagram Live posted to YouTube, financial expert Ramit Sethi stressed the importance of building and maintaining a one-year emergency fund

“Usually you hear about emergency funds and people pooh-pooh it [and say] three months, six months. No. One year. We are getting more conservative and more aggressive [about saving] based on what has been going on in the news,” Sethi says in the video, which is part of a series of “fireside chats” he’s hosting to help people navigate their finances during the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The US government is gearing up to send one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 to Americans who qualify. If you’re getting a stimulus check and you don’t need to money for immediate expenses, it might be a good idea to pad your emergency fund.

2. Working toward your financial goals

The world around us may look different than it did several weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean you have to change your long-term financial goals.

If you still want to buy a house, take a big vacation, or build wealth for retirement, keep working toward those goals in whatever way you can, whether that’s funding your 401(k) or setting aside cash for a down payment.

The path to achieving your goals may take some detours, but the strategy is likely the same. Make adjustments if you need to, but don’t abandon your plans all together.

3. Your insurance coverage

There’s nothing like a global health crisis to remind us how important it is to protect our incomes, health, and families.

If you don’t have life insurance yet but you have a family that relies on you for support, it’s probably time to consider buying a policy. Term life insurance is just as easy to obtain as it was before the coronavirus pandemic, and prices remain affordable. 

You might also want to consider shopping for a disability insurance policy to replace your income if you’re ever injured or too sick to work. As Policygenius explains, for people whose career is their largest financial asset, buying disability insurance is a no-brainer.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, is covered under standard disability insurance policies, as are work-related injuries, cancer, pregnancy, and mental-health issues like depression and anxiety. 

4. Managing your debt

The coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, and lenders are treating it that way. Many companies are allowing borrowers to pause payments toward their credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and student loans.

If you know you won’t be able to make your payment next month, call your lender now and find out what your options are — don’t wait. You may be offered some type of relief if you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus, whether that’s payment deferral or an interest waiver.

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