What the Coronavirus Could Mean for Your Wallet | theSkimm

As the number of COVID-19 cases climb around the world, health and economic pros are keeping a close watch. Here are a few ways the coronavirus can affect your wallet.

It could cost less to borrow money. COVID-19 has hurt profits across different industries. And you’ve probably heard the word “recession” a lot more than once. In rough economic times, the Federal Reserve can lower interest rates to encourage people to spend, invest, and borrow money. In March, the Fed cut rates down to almost zero. That could help you get better borrowing terms when you buy or refinance a home. And maybe a slight discount if you carry a balance on your credit card or other variable-rate debt.

Oh, and if you’re planning to take out new student loans, good news: interest rates on federal loans for the upcoming school year just dropped to the lowest level ever.

You might get a break on your current debt. Lenders are getting more flexible to help take some financial pressure off people who are struggling. If you already owe Uncle Sam back for college, you probably don’t need to make payments (including interest) until October. If you’re struggling with credit card, personal loan or mortgage payments, call your creditor. Several banks have said they may waive fees or defer payments.

Related: How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

You could get a lot more money from the gov than usual. In March, President Trump signed a $2 trillion relief bill into law. It included things like $1,200 checks, an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits, and help for small businesses. In May, House Dems said ‘that was so much fun, let’s do it again.’ And introduced a new bill that would give American households up to $6,000, help paying housing and utility bills, and more. TBD on if it’ll make it through Congress and onto Trump’s desk.

theSkimm: COVID-19 has changed, well, everything. Including the economy. The jury’s still out on what recovery looks like. In the meantime, focus on what you can control. Like asking your lenders for help if you need it and redoing your budget if you’ve lost income. If you can afford to give your emergency fund some love, do that, too. So you’ll be prepared no matter what happens next.

Introducing Teal Memb'rship

We’ve Skimm’d the news, career advice, elections, and more. Now, we’re Skimm’ng Money. Sign up for access to the info and tools you need to reach your money goals with confidence. It’s free through the end of the year.

Become a Teal Memb’r

live smarter.

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter.

Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.