The enhanced community quarantine has affected almost every aspect of our lives. Other than health, much of the impact has been felt on the labor and employment sector.
With some sectors temporarily halted while others currently in peril due to health and logistical limitations, getting laid off at the most unfortunate time of our lives has become increasingly more probable.
Right now, we can all agree that the pandemic coupled with world economies grinding to a halt, things aren’t looking lovely for everyone at the moment. But don’t lose hope yet; you can still stick this landing even if the ride might get bumpy.
In case you get axed due to COVID-19, here are the steps you need to do immediately to make sure you stay afloat during the crisis.
Pare down your expenses
Your online subscriptions are useful right now, especially that you need to stay at home and do your part in social distancing. However, being unemployed right now means that you have to say goodbye to Netflix, Spotify, and other subscription-based services that you have.
Other things you should cut for now include gym memberships, meal delivery services, cable TV subscription, and other recurring costs that are not essential to your survival. It might sound devastating, especially now that you’re mostly at home. However, keep in mind these are temporary cuts so you can give your finances more breathing room. Once you get back on your feet, feel free to restore them and catch up on the latest episodes of Money Heist.
Fortunately, you can still make social distancing fun for you with these tips—at no extra cost.
Make a hierarchy of essentials
When you’re terminated from your job or your source of livelihood has been severely crippled due to massive restrictions, you need to put your house in order and figure out which are the ones you need the most. Water, rent/mortgage repayment, food, basic utilities—these are basically the things you can’t live without so it goes without saying that you should still be able to cover them.
If you’re running on limited resources now, you should prioritize the following in order:
- Food and water
- Rent/mortgage repayment
- Basic utilities
- Other financial obligations
Why follow the said order? Food, water, and housing are the three things you cannot put to the back burner. These comprise the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, all which are needed for survival. Other, although they’re essential, you can put them for a while even if they can negatively impact your life.
Talk to your billers about payment extension
Currently, banks, telecom, and other utility providers have already extended their deadlines to help Filipinos settle their basic needs first before financial obligations. You need to find a way to contact your regular billers and talk to them about your current situation.
Putting pride aside, the best way to approach this is to admit to them that you need help meeting your deadlines and you are one of the people economically affected by COVID-19. If you’re paying your bills on time and in full, chances are you can get some reprieve from your deadlines without incurring penalties.
Some banks have already announced payment holidays for select clients in good credit standing with them. As for government payments, contributions for Social Security System (SSS) and PhilHealth have been postponed to give people more breathing room.
If you can suspend payments for now, that’s good because you will need all the cash you can get to keep yourself afloat this period.
Keep your credit card active—and use it wisely
Although we listed financial obligations at the bottom of the essential expenses list, those who have credit cards should take care of their account and make sure it doesn’t get closed down.
If you have a card that has no outstanding balance, only use it to buy essentials and don’t max it out as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if your card is already carrying a balance, you might want to pay the minimum amount for now so you can still enjoy your card for crucial purchases.
Usually, paying minimum amount is against everything we tell you about. After all, we’re big advocates of paying on time and in full. However, having no steady inflow of cash can make it hard especially if you have other important things to cover.
However, only do this when you’ve exhausted every option that you have. Although it is a good tactic in case of emergency, you are running the risk of burning down your credit history—and it isn’t good to have debts when the economy upticks.
To take advantage of the grace period, you should learn how your billing cycle works.
Get your financial assistance packages
In 2018, the government passed a bill that enhances the programs offered by the SSS. One of the provisions under Republic Act No. 11199 is the unemployment benefit package. If a person gets forcibly terminated from the company due to various reasons—one of which is a pandemic like COVID-19—they are entitled to a jumpstart fund from SSS.
So how much is the unemployed benefit package from SSS? According to SSS President and CEO Aurora Ignacio, the average COVID-19 unemployment benefit rate people can get is P11,000. However, the exact rate is based on half of a person’s monthly salary credit.
Although the SSS announced that they’re going to launch an online portal for unemployment benefit claims, only over-the-counter applications are possible right now. Until the website is up and running, the best thing you can do is just wait.
But SSS isn’t alone. The Home Development Mutual Fund—more commonly known as the Pag-IBIG Fund—is offering calamity loan packages for contributing members affected by COVID-19. For the agency’s calamity assistance, you can borrow up to 80 percent of your contributions with Pag-IBIG.
Finally, the Department of Labor and Employment will provided a little relief to the affected workers through the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program. The agency will send P5,000 to Filipinos who lost their jobs under the “no-work-no-pay” scheme through their respective employers.
These measures, although they are only temporary relief, should allow you to extend your lifeline for a while. For the loans, don’t think about repayment yet as Pag-IBIG gives you three months to start repayments at 24 months.
Resume writing your resume
When the government told the people to stay at home, they don’t mean to just fiddle with your phone all day and sleep. When you’re out of job, every second counts—just as your every peso must be spent wisely—so you can shorten your period of uncertainty.
Remember that update on LinkedIn and other job marketplace portals that you’ve been putting on hold for a while now? It’s time to make your portfolio more updated so you can bump up your chances of getting hired immediately. Don’t forget to make both CV and resume so you are prepared for whatever they want you to submit. For a more in-depth guide to the difference between the two, read this article.
Finally, you might want to cast your net wider than before. During times like these, we don’t get the luxury to be picky with our jobs. Is the offer lower than your asking rate? Still hear them out! Will you be taken to a different industry than before? It’s fine!
Remember, the goal here is to get a source of income during the crisis so you should take whatever job is available for you right now.
One thing you should remember before starting these steps: you’re not the only one debilitated by COVID-19 at the moment. It may take a while for employers to schedule a video call or the government to send help on your way. These things take time, so be a little extra patient.
Whatever happens, the most important thing to do is never give up, even in the face of adversity like this.