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Creating a plan to help manage finances through the evolving COVID-19 crisis

Click to play video 'Creating a financial plan to help sustain yourself through the COVID-19 pandemic' Creating a financial plan to help sustain yourself through the COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: Managing finances during COVID-19 pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, money can become tight as businesses are forced to close and people are getting laid off, and it’s going to take a financial toll on households.

For some living paycheque-to-paycheque, the strain may prove to be the tipping point, pushing them over the financial edge.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan suspends evictions during state of emergency

Licensed insolvency trustee Jasmin Brown, who’s a senior vice-president of BDO in Saskatoon, shared some advice about how people in Saskatchewan can manage their personal finances through the uncertain economic times ahead.

She said now is the time for people to assess their financial situation and put in place a plan to lessen the impact of this crisis on their financial well-being.

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“The first thing you want to do is an assessment of your current situation,” she said.

“Look at whether or not you have a savings account. If you have an emergency fund, what income do you have coming in at this time and what are your monthly expenses? What do you have for debt payments?”

Brown said it’s important to keep a very close eye on non-essential spending and create a budget.

“Creating the [financial] plan will be implementing the budget. That’s the next big step,” Brown said.

“It’s going to take an assessment of your needs versus wants. Identifying anywhere that you can maybe trim some expenses… and when you’re looking at the variable spending like groceries, try to avoid the panic spending.”

READ MORE: Long wait times for grocery pickup frustrating Saskatchewan residents amid COVID-19

If people have no other option to make ends meet, Brown said accessing low-interest credit can be a resource as long as there’s a plan to pay it back after returning to work.

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“In terms of credit… we would say to do this wisely. Only if necessary for emergency purposes, for the bare necessities,” she said.

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“That money, even if you borrow it now, will come due. And the same with when you’re looking at deferring any payment. You want to understand what that really means. It might be a delay, but there will come a time. You want to have a plan in place to pay it back before you do any additional borrowing.”

Brown said people should be working with creditors to negotiate lower interest rates and lower debt payments.

“You’ll want to start making those calls now. The phone lines are going to be busy with people who are finding that their income is low,”

“But if you are finding that you’re in a situation where your debt is just overwhelming and stressful, you want to look out to the professionals that can help look at options for your particular solution. And that’s where it would make sense to contact the licensed insolvency trustee.”

Information on financial help through the federal government can be found in its emergency response plan online.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.