Financial Tips from our Front Line


The global impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt here at home in Nova Scotia.  Times of uncertainty can fuel concerns and questions surrounding our financial health and wellbeing.  I want you to know, our team is here to help.  As we continue to practice physical distancing while serving those who are relying on continued access to flexible products, personal service and helpful advice, we are listening to understand what is top of mind as we navigate this situation together.  Our dedicated staff are engaging with hundreds of people every day over the phone, through email and in-branch.  The biggest question we’re hearing is, “What should I be doing – or doing differently – in the face of COVID-19?”  

At CUA, we believe better answers start with better conversations. We absolutely want you to ask us if you are feeling unsure about your finances.  Today, we are encouraging everyone to: 


Consider alternate ways to bank.
  As noted by government and public health authorities, reducing the spread of this virus is in our hands – literally.  Practicing personal hygiene protocols as well as physical distancing is critical.  If you don’t need to come into a branch, consider using a number of our convenient digital options, such as on-line banking, the CUA mobile app and  teleservice.  For more information, visit cua.com/waystobank.

Make two lists.  The first list is what you absolutely have to pay or spend money to acquire.  This can range from monthly bills to food and personal care items.  The second list is what you can do without for the time being and that you may wish to cancel immediately, if you need to reduce your spending.

Consult (or develop) your monthly budget.  In times of financial uncertainty, being clear on the numbers can make a big difference.  Start with all income and expenses, using the two lists you developed in the previous step. Make sure you know how your money is being spent and if there are any shortfalls or gaps. Learn more about budgeting.

Consider deferrals only if necessary.  If your income or livelihood has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, consider reaching out to your service providers to ask if they have any financial support programs in place.  While options may include the ability to defer a number of payments including the principal and/or interest amount on a loan (such as a mortgage, term loan or line of credit), those who can continue to afford payments are encouraged to do so as it will serve them better in the long term.  Learn more about CUA’s Financial Assistance Program

Stay calm in the face of market volatility.  When markets fluctuate as they have over the past few weeks, it may instill a desire to withdraw funds or stop regular contributions.  This could have a negative impact in the long-term.  The best course of action is to talk to your investment advisor to address questions about what is in your best interests – today with tomorrow in mind.

Leverage access to low-interest capital.  If you do need access to funds, consider what sources are available to you.  Make a list of all your options, and make note of the interest rate or financial terms are required for each.  No-interest or low-interest options are recommended, whereas higher-interest options such as a credit card  or overdraft protection should only be a last resort.

Protect your funds.  In addition to limiting unnecessary spending, protect your funds from scams.  If you have not initiated contact with an individual or organization, do not provide money, personal or password-related information. 

Lean on those you trust.  Consider leaning on others virtually, but remain connected and social with those who may be tackling similar challenges or questions about their finances.  Never has it been more important to talk openly about our finances and how best we can collectively make it through to the other side.  Talk to your spouse or partner, your parents, your friends, your employer and your banking provider.  If you are feeling unsure about your finances, let’s talk.  

When the dust settles, make a plan.  Reach out to your financial institution to talk about a best approach to tackling financial priorities.  For some, this will be to refocus on paying down debts or to get back on track with a regular budget; for others, this will mean setting up an emergency fund or savings program.  Whatever your plan entails, our number one priority will be ensuring our members are confidently working toward their financial goals.

Ensure your service providers can contact you if and when the situation changes.  Things are evolving rapidly, which is why CUA and many other essential service providers are relying on electronic communications to keep customers informed.  If not already, providing your email address is an important step to ensure you get up to date information.

Scott

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