All You Need to Know About Student Loan Changes During COVID-19

Female College student with class supplies in arms smiles as she is walking on campusWith unemployment levels rising and many employers cutting work hours, lots of college grads are now struggling to meet their student loan payments. Thankfully, the federal government has passed legislation to ease this burden. Unfortunately, though, many borrowers are confused about the terms and conditions of these changes.

Here’s all you need to know about the changes to student loan debt during the coronavirus pandemic.

All federal student loan payments are automatically suspended for six months
As part of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) signed into law on March 27 all federal student loan payments are suspended, interest-free, through Sept. 30, 2020. If borrowers continue making payments, the full amount will be applied to the principal of the loan. The suspension applies to all federal student loans owned by the Department of Education as well as some Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) and some Perkins loans. Students do not have to take any action or pay any fees for the suspension to take effect.

Additionally, during the suspension period, the CARES Act does not allow student loan servicers to report to the credit bureaus borrower nonpayments as missed payments. Therefore, the suspension should not have a negative effect on borrowers’ credit scores.
If you’re not sure whether your student loan is federally owned, you can look it up on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. Be sure to have your FSA ID handy so you can sign in and look up your loans. You can also call your loan servicer directly to clear up any confusion.

Here is the contact information for federal student loan servicers:

Suspended payments count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and loan rehabilitation.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program allowing borrowers to have their student loans forgiven, tax-free, with the stipulation that they work in the public sector and make 120 qualifying monthly payments. A disruption of these 120 payments can disqualify a borrower from the program.

According to the CARES Act, suspended payments will be treated as regular payments toward PSLF. This ensures that borrowers who have been working toward these programs will not lose the progress they’ve made toward loan forgiveness.

The same rule applies to individuals participating in student loan rehabilitation, during which borrowers with defaulted student loans must make nine out of 10 consecutive monthly payments to pull their loans out of default. The U.S. Department of Education will consider the six-month suspension on payments as if regular payments were made toward rehabilitation.

Some states and private lenders are offering student loan aid for struggling borrowers.
If your student loan is not federally owned and you are struggling to meet your payments, there may still be options available, such as loan deferment or forbearance. If you are in need of such assistance, contact your lender directly to discuss your options. Consider an income-driven repayment plan.

If you have an FFEL that is ineligible for suspension, you can lower your monthly payments by enrolling in an income-based repayment plan, which adjusts your monthly student loan payment amount according to your discretionary income. Other lenders offer similar plans, often referred to as income-driven repayment plans. If your salary was cut as a result of COVID-19, or you are currently unemployed, these plans can provide relief by making your monthly payments more manageable.

Employers can contribute toward employees’ student loan debt for temporary tax relief
The federal government offered temporary tax relief for employers contributing up to $5,350 toward their employees’ student loan payments. This benefit is in effect until Jan. 1, 2021 and it can be used for any kind of student debt, whether federal or private.

If you don’t qualify for the student loan payment suspension, you can try speaking with the human resources department at your workplace to find out how they can help you with your student loan debt at this time.

Your Turn:
Have you taken advantage of student loan debt relief offered during the coronavirus pandemic? Tell us about it in the comments.

Learn More:

Cut Clothing Costs

young asian woman consults phone while shoppingIt’s a brand-new season, but that doesn’t mean you need to break your budget to get your wardrobe ready for spring! Challenge yourself to spend half of what you usually do on a new season’s wardrobe. Make the rounds of consignment shops in your community. They should be bursting with offerings from everyone else’s spring cleaning. Next, look for low-cost options at bargain-priced department stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx. You can also find a friend to swap clothing with, and give an old outfit new life with some inexpensive accessories instead of springing for a whole new look.

Your challenge:
Cut your clothing costs this month!

Your Turn:
Show us the best of your budget-priced spring wardrobe!

Against All Odds: Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran in interviewNote: Second in a series
She floundered through her education, earning straight D’s all through high school and college. By the time she turned 23, she’d already had 20 different jobs. Barbara Corcoran was looking at a life of financial struggle and the futile chase of success.

But then, she started her next job and everything changed. This is the story of the small-town girl who turned a $1,000 loan into a real estate company worth $5 billion.
The early years

Corcoran grew up in Edgewater, N.J., the second-oldest of 10 children. Her father worked as a printing-press foreman and her mother was a housewife. She struggled through school, and in 1971, she graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College before setting out to earn a living.

While working as a server shortly after graduating, Corcoran met New Jersey-based home builder Ray Simone. The two began dating, and soon after, Simone lent Corcoran $1,000 to establish her own business. The couple then founded Corcoran-Simone, an apartment locator service in New York City. The girl from Edgewater who’d struggled through school was now a business owner.

Building a business
The couple worked out a fair agreement, with Simone owning 51 percent of the company and Corcoran acting as the agent dealing directly with clients. One day, Corcoran was showing a rental to an engineer who decided to buy the unit instead of renting it. The $3,000 commission earned from the sale was too great a reward to ignore. The next day, Corcoran decided to shift the firm’s focus to sales. She posted an ad for a sales agent immediately.

The young company was soon on the path to explosive success using a simple business plan: Every time Corcoran earned $180, she used the money to post a 3-line ad in The New York Times for a new sales agent. Each new agent generated more money for the company, and within two years of its founding, Corcoran-Simone had a team of 14 agents while earning more than a half-million dollars in sales annually.

Everything was going smoothly until Simone broke up the relationship between the two owners and asked to divide the company. It took several years to complete the task, but in 1978 the job was done and Corcoran was on her own. As they parted, Simone told Corcoran she’d never be able to succeed without him. Instead of serving to discourage her, his words fueled her ambition. She was going to be a success, no matter what it would take.

At the time, the NYC real estate market was dominated by men, but that did not deter Corcoran. She’s been blessed with a fighting spirit and has never been afraid to fight convention. She wasted no time launching the Corcoran Group, the first female-owned real estate firm in the Big Apple. Within a year, the company was pulling in more than $350,000 in revenue.

A tough leader
Corcoran was a demanding leader. She handed the reins of everyday operations to her employees, and claims she didn’t even know what the firm’s revenue was, placing complete faith in her accountant. The Corcoran Group thrived.
Always the innovator, Corcoran started selling real estate online in 1993, a full two years before most competing agencies in the city. She also cleverly seized web domains that would likely be sought out by her competitors. This way, her rivals were forced to call her when they wanted to start selling on the internet, alerting her each time a competitor was entering the online market.

Selling out
In 1988, Corcoran married her second husband, Bill Higgins. The couple wanted a child, and after eight years of fertility treatments, they welcomed a son, Tommy. It was a dream come true for the couple, but a game-changer for Corcoran.

In 2001, the Corcoran Group reached an impressive level of growth and had more listings in every category than any real estate firm in New York. Corcoran was now the top broker in the entire city. That was when she had her watershed moment. As she says, she realized she needed to be there 150% for her family at the Corcoran Group, while also being there 150% for Tommy. Since it was impossible to divide herself in two, Corcoran decided it was time to sell.

Corcoran continued to push herself forward until 2006, when she actively began seeking out a buyer. With a powerful sales force of 850 agents and annual revenues approaching $100 million, the Corcoran Group generated lots of interest from real estate firms in and around the city. At the time, New Jersey-based NRT, Inc. was aggressively buying up firms in New York, and Corcoran sought them out as her buyer. In a brilliant move, she hired an attorney who was also a member of NRT’s board of directors. The lawyer brought Corcoran an offer from NRT for $20 million, but she refused to sell at that price, saying she wouldn’t take less than $66 million. She claimed 66 is her lucky number and instructed the attorney not to get back to her unless he had found a buyer who agreed to her price. Just a few days later, a contract was signed.

The next stage
Today, Corcoran is a who’s who in business and her self-help books include the bestseller, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business!. She has also become a motivational speaker and a popular TV personality, with regular roles on NBC’s Today Show, and on ABC’s hit Shark Tank, through which she has invested in 80 businesses to date. She also hosts her own business podcast, Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran.
Corcoran openly talks about her academic struggles in school and the fight to get to the top. Her feisty attitude and fiery ambition continue to inspire women and business owners around the world.

Your Turn:
Do you find Corcoran’s story inspiring? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Learn More:
abc.com
fullinbloom.com
barbaracorcoran.com

How Can I Use a Job Loss as a Stepping Stone for Growth?

Man sitting across desk in business casual attire.Q: I’ve been laid off from my job, and I’m struggling with my next step. I’m trying to remain positive and to see this as an opportunity, but it hasn’t been easy. On a practical level, how can I use these circumstances as a stepping stone for growth?

A: Losing a job, whether due to the economic fallout of COVID-19 or for a different reason, is never easy. Choosing to view this time as an opportunity instead of a crisis is commendable and will likely have positive long-term effects on your career path.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps you can take as you embark on a new direction in your life.

Take a giant step back
Before making any efforts to find a new job, take a moment to look at where you stand career-wise. Did you feel trapped at your old job, or were you truly happy? Where do you want to go next? Would a complete pivot really be in your best interest, or would you do better with just a small career shift, such as a change in position within the same field?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you gain clarity on your future career path:

  • What did I love about my old job?
  • What did I really not like about my old job?
  • Which valuable skills and experience that I gained at my old job can help me move forward?
  • What are my unique strengths and talents?
  • Which parts of my old job played to those strengths?
  • What were my long-term career goals 10, 20 or even 30 years ago?
  • Have I achieved those goals? If not, what has stopped me from reaching them?
  • What’s my secret dream job?
  • Have I always wished I could open a business of my own?

If you have trouble answering some questions, you can do this quick thought exercise: Close your eyes, breathe deeply until you are fully relaxed and try to let your mind float freely. Picture yourself waking up in the morning and going off to your dream job. What job is it? Your subconscious might just help you out here.

Narrow down your choices
Once you have some idea of what you’d like to do now, jot down your job options and review them carefully. Which of these choices is really best for you? Narrow down your list until you have less than five options.

Consider these factors as you work through the list:

  • The career should play to your natural strengths. It’s always easier to hone an existing skill than to try building one up from scratch. You’re also more likely to enjoy a job at which you naturally excel.
  • The expected salary should meet your needs. It can be helpful to review your monthly expenses and spending habits to refresh your memory. To find out if a possible career can adequately meet your financial needs, look up salary averages on Payscale.com.
  • The field or career you choose to pursue should align with your personality. Some people do better in strictly administrative positions, some only feel fulfilled in a “helping job,” while others thrive in careers that require creativity. It’s best if your chosen career matches your particular needs.

If you’ve chosen to use this opportunity to realize your dream of opening your own business, stop by to learn about the unique products we have available to help you achieve your goal.

Build a killer resume
Your resume is your passport to that dream job. Make yours stand out from the pack by polishing it until it truly shines.

Creating a brilliant resume is going to take some work, but you don’t have to go it alone. You can download a basic resume template from Resume Gig, My Perfect Resume or Resume Now. You can also hire a professional resume writer. It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a managerial job, it can be vital.

As you work on your resume, make sure to include all the basics, including your complete educational background, full career history and a select few references who can vouch for your skills and reliability. It’s also a good idea to highlight accomplishments, such as projects or campaigns you’ve initiated, led and/or successfully completed at your previous place of employment. Triple-check the spelling and grammar and have a friend look it over to provide some feedback before submitting your resume to a potential employer.

Network and job-hunt
The easiest way to land a dream job is to already have a foot in the door of a company. A friend or family member who knows of a perfect position can help you out here, but only if they know you’re looking for a job. Spread the word to everyone you know. Share your resume with anyone you reach out to so they have a better idea of your career choices. Social media can be a big help here, too, giving your messages a wider spread. Tell them about the kind of job you’re seeking and ask if they know of any open positions that might suit you. They can also help out by providing contacts who can lead you in the right direction. Follow up every few weeks to remind people that you’re still job-hunting.
If friends and family can’t help you out, you can also look up available positions in your chosen field and pursue them directly. Online job boards like Indeed.com and Careerbuilder.com can be a great place to start your search.

Finding that dream job can take several weeks or even several months. You may want to use this time to build up your skills by investing in a course or a lecture series given by a professional in your chosen field.

Hopefully, your efforts will soon pay off and you’ll find that dream career. In a few years’ time, you may look back at your present unemployment and begin to truly appreciate it for the blessing that it was.

Your Turn:
Have you used a lost job as an opportunity for growth? Tell us about it in the comments.

Learn More:
careerplanner.com
psychologytoday.com
knsfinancial.com

Getting Ahead on Your Student Loan Before You Graduate

young woman working at a laptop in an officeAs you prepare for graduation and begin scouting different employment opportunities, be sure to look at the larger picture before you accept a position.

Hopefully, you’ve chosen a career path that will bring you joy and gratification. Equally important, though, is a job that can support your lifestyle choices. While the positions you consider for your first post-college job will likely offer the opportunity for growth, you’ll still need to pay your bills—and make your student loan payments—as soon as you graduate. A job that brings you satisfaction and a pleasant working environment will not last long if the salary it offers causes you to sink into debt.

How do you determine what kind of salary will be large enough to support your desired lifestyle?

To get this information, you’ll need to create a mock monthly budget for your post-college self.

Using a spreadsheet or paper and pen, create two columns, one for expenses and one for actual dollar amounts. In the expense column, list your typical monthly expenses, including housing costs, transportation costs, health insurance, groceries, entertainment costs, clothing costs, dining out, savings, etc. In the dollar column, list the amount of money you expect to pay every month for each expense.

Your budget should look something like this:

ExpenseMonthly Cost
Housing$1,200
Transportation$300
Health Insurance$250
Groceries$350
Student Loan Payments$350

It will take some research and some hard, honest thinking to come up with these numbers. For housing costs, take a moment to think about where you see yourself settling down after college. You don’t have to know the exact neighborhood you’ll live in, but it’s good to know the city that will work best for you in terms of lifestyle, career path, and family plans. You can narrow this down to a few choices so long as you keep it reasonable. Once you’ve chosen your desired location, research the median rental prices in the area on real estate sites like Zillow and Redfin.

Next, work on transportation costs. If you already own a car, you’ll have an idea of what it costs you each month. Otherwise, spend some time thinking about what kind of car you want to drive. You can find listings on Carfax.com. Include costs like auto insurance, gas, and upkeep, in this category.

Or, if you plan on living somewhere with reliable public transportation, you might choose this route instead. Make a calculation of how much you’ll spend on bus and/or train rides, along with the occasional cab or ride-share ride.

Complete your budget using your best estimates for each category. Once you’ve filled out each expense amount, add up your total and multiply it by 12 to give you the amount of money you’ll need each year for supporting the lifestyle of your choice. (This number will increase with inflation, but since current salaries will likely increase along with the inflation rate, this exercise can still give you an idea of the annual salary you’ll need.)
Now that you have these numbers, you’re ready to go ahead with your job search. When considering possible positions, you don’t have to choose the one that pays the highest salary if there are other things about the job you don’t love. However, it’s best to pursue positions that can actually support you.

Your Turn:
Are you choosing your first job for the salary or for other factors? Share your take with us in the comments.

Learn More:
knsfinancial.com
usnews.com
usnews.com
brazen.com

Meditation Apps

round corner button with "calm" in script fontCalm
With more than 50 million downloads and 700,000 5-star reviews, Calm is one of most popular meditation apps on the market. Proud to hold the title of Google Play Editor’s Choice of 2018, Calm’s simple approach makes it a favorite among users around the world.

The app offers instructional guides for meditation, sleep stories and tips for a truly restful night’s sleep, exclusive music to help you relax and audio programs teaching users how to engage in complete mindfulness. The app also features Calm Kids, a section designed with kids aged 3-17 in mind.

You can try the app at no cost for a week and then pay the annual subscription price of $69.99, or choose to spend $399.99 upfront for lifetime access.

Pros

    • The introductory weeklong course is comprehensive, engaging and completely free.
    • “Daily Calm,” the 10-minute mindfulness session, is short enough to squeeze into an overcrowded schedule, but long enough to leave you feeling relaxed.
    • Users can customize the timelines of their goals.
    • Provides insightful guidance for overcoming difficulties when learning meditation.
    • The design of the app is very calming, with soothing visuals and sounds.

Cons

    • Free version of the app is very limited.
    • Some users find the app’s constant verbal guidance to be intrusive and annoying.

orange dot on with round corner buttonHeadspace
Headspace is the “dinosaur” in the market of meditation apps, but its high ratings across 300,000 reviews in the App Store place it way up there with newer apps of its kind.
You can try the app at no cost for two weeks, and then you’ll automatically be enrolled in an annual subscription at $69.99 a year. A monthly subscription of $12.99 will give you a week’s free trial. You can always cancel your subscription after trying out the app. The paid version unlocks many features, including mini meditations, sleep training and in-depth coverage and instructional guides on themes, like stress reduction and gaining confidence.

Pros

    • Attractive interface and easy to use.
    • Animations are fun and engaging.
    • Daily meditations are tracked so you can see your progress.

Cons

    • Free version is limited to 10 short sessions.
    • App requires high levels of self-discipline for success.

mindfulnessMindfulness
This app’s name tells it like it is: an app designed to train you in mindfulness. From improving the quality of your sleep to learning to understand your emotions, there’s a module for everyone on The Mindfulness App. It’s free for the first week, but the paid version, at $69.99 a month, gives you access to courses on relationships, focus and calmness, along with more than 250 guided meditations.

Pros

    • Timed sessions allow users to squeeze in a meditation even when they can only spare a few minutes. These sessions are also customizable and can be silent or guided.
    • Allows users to track the progress of their meditation journeys.

Cons

    • App is designed for beginners, and will not provide in-depth tutorials on advanced meditation like other apps.

Your Turn:
What’s your favorite meditation app? Tell us about it in the comments.

Learn More:
What is Headspace
calm.com
positivepsychology.com
Best Meditation Apps

Jordan Page

Jordan PageMeet Jordan Page, a tireless mom of eight — including newborn twins. In between keeping her house running and her kids productively occupied and out of trouble, Page has built up a strong community of online followers with two separate and equally popular personal finance sites. As these communities will attest, she’s all about keeping your finances real, easy and fun!

In BudgetBootcamp, readers are invited to join a financial improvement program for just $149. The program is customizable to all life stages and circumstances, and includes 27 how-to videos, 15 workouts for your wallet, loads of budgeting tips and financial advice from Page, along with the strong community support of hundreds of thousands of families who’ve already worked through the program.

Participants will learn how to stop fighting about money, create a custom financial fitness program that actually works, slash your grocery bill in half and so much more! Page promises full satisfaction or your money back, so there’s nothing to lose by trying out Budget Boot Camp — except debt and stress over money. You can also try out the program by signing up for a 90-day Budget for Beginners Boot Camp for free.

Page’s other site, FunCheapOrFree.com, contains loads of completely free financial advice and tips, all written in an engaging and easy-to-read style that makes saving money fun. Read up on painless ways to trim your spending, budget-friendly recipe ideas, how you can save more by choosing to DIY on everything from washing your car to gift-giving, motivational messages to keep you inspired and so much more.
Page can be followed on Twitter at @budgetbootcamp and @funcheaporfree, and on Facebook.

Your Turn:
Do you follow Jordan Page? Tell us what you love about her financial approach.

Learn More:
funcheaporfree.com
budgetbootcamp.com

Why is There Still a Shortage on Some Goods?

Woman in hoodie holding 7 rolls of toilet paperAs the calendar turns from April to May, America is sailing into its third month of living with the new reality of the coronavirus pandemic. And part of that reality means empty store shelves.

Customers’ growing frustration has reached such extremes in some places that it has escalated into physical confrontations and actual larceny — over rolls of toilet paper. In mid-March, Florida sheriff’s deputies arrested a man for allegedly stealing 66 toilet paper rolls from a Marriott hotel. In early April, Beverly Hills cops found 192 rolls of toilet paper in a stolen SUV. Customers are clearly fed up with seeing empty store shelves.

What’s behind the ongoing shortage of basic commodities like toilet paper? Why are we still seeing a dearth in supply weeks after the initial onset of the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown? When will the shortage end?

Manufacturers explain that the bare shelves we saw when the pandemic first began dominating headlines were likely due to the panic that swept through the country. The hysteria was fanned by fear-mongering articles on some news sites that had very little basis in actual, proven facts.

This, in turn, led to frantic customers swarming stores and buying out paper towels, hand soap, disinfectant and toilet paper. Suppliers weren’t properly prepared to meet the overwhelming demand, and goods were understandably limited or unavailable until they could replenish their stock. In fact, according to IRI, a market research firm, demand for toilet paper swelled to such great heights in March, that sales peaked at $1.45 billion for the four-week period ending March 29. That’s a 112% increase from a year earlier.

“I can’t give you an exact number, but I will tell you we’re making more than ever,” says Arist Mastorides, president of family care for Kimberly-Clark North America, maker of Cottonelle toilet paper and other dry goods. “It’s a significant amount to cover what we think will be used with people traveling less and staying home more.”

But why haven’t they caught up with the demand by now, nearly two months later?
Eric Abercrombie, spokesman for Georgia-Pacific, the company that makes Quilted Northern toilet paper, explains that the shortage is due to a shift in the demand with the nationwide lockdown. It’s not that Americans are using more toilet paper at home than they do at work; it’s that they use a different kind. The bath tissue generally sold to the commercial market is made of one-ply recycled fiber, while the kind favored by consumers is a softer product made of two-ply virgin fiber. Suppliers need to adapt to this shift for meeting the changing demands.

Some other products, like paper towels and hand soap, are still in short supply as manufacturers struggle to restock the shelves emptied a few months ago. There have also been some interruptions in the supply chain as workers called in sick after contracting the virus or chose not to come into work to keep themselves safe from becoming infected.

But there is hope on the horizon for the frustrated consumer. Manufacturers assure the public that they are hard at work to meet the changing demands and to replenish depleted stock in stores around the country. Factories are running 24/7 and temporary workers are being called upon to cover for employees who stay home. In just a few weeks, the manufacturers say, customers should be seeing fully stocked shelves once again.

How to Work from Home

young man working from home at his computerThe coronavirus pandemic has taken the world as we know it and turned it upside down. Hospitals are scrambling to meet the needs of their patients as the federal and local governments are issuing stricter guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus.

Shopping malls that were filled with crowds just a week ago now stand vacant. Universities and schools have emptied out and students are continuing their education online to diminish the spread of the virus. Small businesses have shuttered their doors as they choose their health and the health and safety of their customers over profit.

As part of this upheaval, millions of Americans have been sent home from work with laptops in hand and strict instructions to remotely tend to their usual workload.

Unfortunately, this can prove to be a lot harder than it sounds. If you find yourself struggling to complete your workload from home during the outbreak, we can help!
Here are some tips on how to stay focused, on-task and productive as you work from home.

Create a workstation
Propping up your pillows and working in bed can sound like a good idea until you find yourself nodding off in front of your computer screen. To keep your brain focused and in “working mode,” it’s best to designate one area of your home to serve as your workstation as you wait out the outbreak. Keep the area clean and stocked with all the supplies you may need during your work hours.

Set your hours
A major boon of working from home is choosing your own hours — but this can backfire quickly. Lack of a proper schedule is the biggest enemy of the procrastinator. To keep from finding yourself with a huge amount of work to complete in an impossibly short amount of time, set up working hours and stick to them. If there are children home with you, work around their routine by scheduling your work hours during naptime or late at night when they’re asleep.

Collaborate
For most of us, home is where we unwind and kick off our shoes after a long day of work. Keeping focused and staying on task when working in your own comfortable surroundings can be super-challenging. Bring home some of the motivational work atmosphere by collaborating with your colleagues as much as possible. Utilize video conferencing to swap ideas, plan long-term projects and communicate on platforms like Slack, which is created just for this purpose.

Get rid of all distractions
It can be hard to keep your mind on work when each beep of the phone brings more horrific news and updates about the spread of the coronavirus. If you can, hide or shut off your phone during your work hours. If that’s not possible, consider turning off your notifications and social media apps. You can also use an app, like ColdTurkey, which makes it easy to minimize distractible apps and websites on your phone.

Your Turn:
Are you working from home? Tell us how you’re making it work in the comments.

5 Ways to Help Local Small Businesses Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

Man eating a casual lunch while watching TVShop your local stores online
Most retailers are offering their products through online purchasing, even if they hadn’t been doing so before the coronavirus pandemic. Continue supporting local businesses by choosing to order through their websites until they reopen their brick-and-mortar locations.

Buy gift cards
Service businesses like spas and theaters that don’t sell products, are hit particularly hard by the coronavirus shutdowns. Help them continue to turn a profit by purchasing gift cards now for later use.

Order in
Dining out is a luxury that most of the world will have to do without for now, but you can still enjoy your favorite takeout food at home. Most restaurants and fast-food chains are taking precautions to prepare their food within hygienic conditions to meet the CDC guidelines. You can safely order through a food delivery service, like UberEats or Postmates, or use the restaurant’s drive-thru or curbside pickup service.

Tip extra
Whether you’re ordering dinner in or just having your groceries delivered because you can’t leave your home, you can help local businesses make it through this economic crisis by tipping a little bit more than you normally would. You can usually add your tip to the total being charged on your card to avoid physical contact with the delivery person.

Take advantage of discounts
In an effort to boost their sales, many small businesses are offering steep discounts on their products at this time. Take advantage by purchasing larger than normal quantities of the sale items to help the business stay afloat.