Four Ways to Improve Your Financial Footing

Blue piggy bank next to a thermometer and coins.

Finances were a leading cause of stress for Americans before the pandemic. Now, a new survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education, finds that nearly 9 in 10 Americans feel anxious about money due to the pandemic.

Financial well-being is an important part of your overall personal well-being. MHealthy, in partnership with University of Michigan Credit Union, has compiled a list of tips and resources to help you stay on firm financial footing today and in the future:

1. Create a budget

Reviewing your finances periodically or creating a budget is always important, but especially if your financial situation is changing. It’s an opportunity to assess how much money is coming in each month, prioritize your bills (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.), and if needed, consider eliminating non-essential expenses. These five steps can help you create a spending plan and manage your finances.

2. Contact your creditors before they contact you

Don’t wait until you’ve missed payments. It’s a better idea to be proactive and reach out to your creditors to explore options such as loan deferments, reduced interest rates, and balance transfers. This overview from the U-M Credit Union includes some basic information on financial assistance that may be available to you during this time.

3. Beware of scams

Scammers prey on people’s fear and uncertainty, making this pandemic a perfect storm for them. View this article on how to avoid scams and COVID fraud and this one covering the latest scam using old passwords. Phishing and scams have also been reported by members of the U-M community.

4. Don’t be afraid to seek out help

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Resources and services are available to help you navigate a financial crisis:

  • One-on-one, confidential assistance is available to you through MHealthy’s Resource Coach program. Get help with locating the right resources at U-M and in your community for finding food, meeting basic needs, understanding the federal CARES Act, and more. 
  • Faculty and staff facing a sudden and significant hardship can apply to the Emergency Hardship Program, which provides resource recommendations and, in specific emergency cases, funds up to a maximum of $1,000 to bridge the gap.
  • The Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide (available in EnglishSpanish and Arabic), assembled by U-M Poverty Solutions Center, provides information on programs that offer assistance for food, utilities, housing, child care, and more. There is also a special section for programs serving Detroit residents.

Additional financial well-being resources and programs were recently added to the university’s Well-being Resources During the COVID19 Pandemic.

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