COVID-19 has had such a devastating impact on the US – more than 225,000 deaths and nearly 9 million cases, not to mention more than 20 million people who have lost their jobs.
Have you ever wondered if your city has been one of the hardest hit?
Interestingly, financial advisory site WalletHub just compared the 100 largest US cities to take a closer look at where people are facing the most financial problems. Among other things, bankruptcy filings, unemployment rates and average credit scores for each city were examined.
According to his calculations, here are the 10 cities that have been financially hardest hit by COVID:
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Chicago, Illinois
- Houston, Texas
- San Antonio, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Los Angeles, California
- Austin, Texas
- Miami, Florida
- Fort Worth, Texas
The most obvious trend is that five of these 10 cities are in Texas. That being said, they are spread across the country. They are everywhere.
When struggling with money, there are five smart finance strategies to keep in mind:
1. Monitor your balance
During these crazy times, it pays to keep an eye on your credit score. Your score is important because the higher your score, the better off a mortgage, car loan, credit card, or even a deposit on a car rental or apartment.
So, if you’re looking to get your credit going back – or even if it’s on the right track and you want to improve it – try a free website called Credit sesame.
Within two minutes, you’ll have access to your credit history, all debtor accounts, and a handful of personalized tips for improving your credit score. You can even spot bugs that are holding you back (every fifth report has one).
Getting your free credit scores takes time less than two minutes.
2. Make yourself a safety net
As many of us learn this year: unemployment is one of the hardest things that can happen to you. For this reason, it is a good idea to set up an emergency fund equivalent to three to six months of your salary in the event you unexpectedly lose your job.
How can you do that Try the 50/30/20 budgeting method. Take all your after-tax income every month and divide it in half. This is your most important budget (50%). Take the rest and break it down into personal expenses (30%) and financial goals (20%).
Let’s sum it up: that’s 50% for things like utilities, groceries, medicines, minimum debt payments, and other critical expenses. Then there’s 30% for fun: Thai takeaway, your Netflix subscription, a skeleton on your lawn for Halloween.
That leaves 20% for your financial goals, such as additional debt reduction payments (anything above the monthly minimum), retirement plans and investments. When trying to build an emergency fund, consider cutting out of the fun category – and wherever you can – to put as much money as possible into that emergency fund. A small sacrifice could be a lifesaver later.
3. Switch to a Discount Phone Carrier
We all know the big wireless companies: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile / Sprint. We are also familiar with the huge bills they hit us with every month.
But here’s the good news: discount cellphone companies are growing in popularity, giving the big guys a run for their money. In fact, many of these discount carriers are operated by one of the major carriers, so you can still get reliable coverage – but at a big discount.
Switch to a discount provider such as Twigby, Tello, Mint Mobile or Cricket Wireless. In most cases, you can do all of this online and even keep your current phone!
4. Pull the plug out of the socket
These sneaky energy vampires – the devices that consume energy when you are not using them – can represent up to 20% of your monthly electricity bill.
Turn a corner and you will likely find a vampire. Your coffee maker, your cable box, your phone charger … Once you’ve identified this Lauerer, just unplug it when you’re not using it.
Pro tip: Invest in a couple of power strips. Instead of wandering around your house unplugging every device, just plug everything into a strip and flip a switch.
This simple step could save you quite a bit of change this year.
5. Shop at cheaper grocery stores
Sure, high-end supermarkets are super nice. Whole Foods and The Fresh Market have deliciously prepared foods and great looking organic produce. Regional chains like Publix and Harris Teeter as well as Giant Eagle and A & P also have many dedicated fans.
But their prices are higher. It’s just a fact. You pay a premium for this shopping experience.
Turn things around and see how much you can save by shopping at a discount store like Aldi, Costco or Trader Joe’s.
You may have to change your routine to do this. But nothing about 2020 is routine.
Try these tips and see how much you can save on your monthly bills. Because today many of us need every last dollar we can get.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com