2020 has been a rough year for everyone and it has sometimes felt unbelievable as to what we have endured thus far. But 2020 will end and the end of June marked the year’s halfway point. That makes the start of July the perfect time to reassess your budget to make certain that you are on track with your expenses and goals. Perhaps you put into place a detailed plan at the start of the year, but if 2020 illustrates anything it’s this: you can’t plan for the unexpected.
At the start of the year, no one could have predicted the effects that COVID-19 would have had globally. There was no way youcould have known what effect the pandemic did and will have on your finances and budget. Many have been deeply impacted. While COVID is an extreme example, there will always be unexpected issues that arise. This makes the start of the second half of the calendar year the perfect time to review your budgeting plan and make certain you’re headed where you can and want to go. Here are some steps you can take to stay or get back on track.
Knowing Is Half the Battle
The first step is to review your current 2020 budget. Do you know precisely how much you are earning and spending right now? If not, it’s time to find out. Even if you made a comprehensive budget a few months ago, you may have found your income has changed since then. If expenses are exceeding your income, then it’s time to take a careful look at discretionary spending to figure out where to cut back. Perhaps you’re doing a bit better with your budget this year than expected. In that case, it’s important to determine if any extra money is serving your financial goals. It could be a good time to reevaluate how to best save or pay off your debts more quickly.
Review Your Goals
The world is a different place than it was six months ago. It’s likely your life looks somewhat different as well this year. Now is a good time to review your goals, perhaps they too have changed. It’s important to spend time reflecting on whether your goals are still in alignment and make some course corrections if needed.
Be Mindful of Debt
Though these are difficult times, it’s critical to not fall behind on programs setup to get you out of debt. Paying off unsecured debt is an important priority. If your financial picture has changed, it’s important that you take steps to insure that you are able to meet commitments and stay the course with your goals. If you do find yourself with extra money at this time, it may be worth paying extra into your debt relief program. You may also have secured debt, such as a home mortgage or car loan. These require regular payments, but there is no need to attempt to pay it off earlier, especially if you are working on your unsecured debt.
Once you’ve made sure your current expenses are properly budgeted for, a great place to put extra money is into a savings account. This allows you to be prepared for sudden hardships, which are a part of life, and have certainly been a big part of 2020. Puting a little bit away today, can make a big difference in dealing with the unexpected expenses of tomorrow.
Maximize Tax Savings
When you plan ahead with your money, you can take advantage of many tax-saving opportunities, including:
Retirement Accounts: The maximum contributions that you can make to a tax-saving retirement account goes up regularly. Are you up to date and contributing the maximum to your accounts? For 2020 the maximum increased to $1,950 for many plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and the majority of 457 plans. If you are not maxing out your retirement contributions, can you change your budget to allocate more money to this tax-saving plan?
Health Savings Account (HSA): For those with high-deductible insurance, contributing to an HSA can be a great way to save money on medical expenses.
While vacations this summer likely won’t include “typical” destinations like the zoo, water parks, or theme parks, there are still plenty of opportunities out there for adventure! In many areas of the country, COVID-19 restrictions are gradually being lifted—which means you may have some exciting day trips in your future. We’ve put together a list of four affordable (or free!) day trip options to consider this summer; just be sure to always follow your state’s guidelines and requirements regarding stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions before you embark!
Visit a State or National Park
While gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited in many states, some parks remain at least partially open. Depending on the state in which you live, state parks may have their trails open for hiking and nature walks. Meanwhile, the National Park Service has announced reopening dates for some parks, including:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Not only is admission to national and state parks inexpensive, but this kind of day trip can be an excellent way to get some fresh air and exercise.
Sip at a Local Winery or Brewery
While many wineries and breweries remain open exclusively for curbside and carry-out service, some wineries are beginning to reopen across the country. In Virginia, for example, wineries have been allowed to reopen with outdoor seating. It is expected that indoor tasting rooms will also begin to open back up, with capacity restrictions to allow for proper social distancing.
If any of these establishments are opening up in your area, this can be an excellent opportunity to relax and unwind. Many wineries and breweries offer complimentary or inexpensive tastings. Even if you don’t want to partake in alcohol consumption, many offer other beverages and snack options to enjoy in a relaxing atmosphere.
Explore Your Hometown
When was the last time you acted like a tourist in your own hometown? If things are starting to reopen in your area, this is an excellent opportunity to explore what makes your hometown unique without having to travel. Even with social-distancing guidelines in place, you can arrange for a carryout meal at a popular restaurant and drive by some local landmarks.
Take a Virtual Vacation
Not 100% comfortable leaving home just yet? Take a free virtual trip from the safety of your own home; there are plenty to choose from, ranging from a virtual tour of the White House to children’s museum tours and everything in between.
Staying Safe on Your Day Trip
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your summer without spending a lot of money (and while still following COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines). Just remember that if you plan on doing any travel, you should wear a mask while you’re out in public. If you need to stop for fuel, you’ll also want to don a pair of gloves and use hand sanitizer before re-entering your vehicle. With a little bit of creativity, you can enjoy some or all of these day trip options as you kick start your summer!
Reducing your debt load is a great way to focus on having a lot of fun while keeping your financial plan on track. With a little bit of ingenuity, you can debt proof your summer and still have a great time. Here are some of the best ways to do that, and the areas you’ll want to consider in order to make the most of summer fun on a budget.
Bryan was very happy in his position managing a health food store. He had just got engaged to his partner of 5 years and life was going very well.
Unexpectedly, Bryan had some major health issues arise that prevented him from continuing to work at the store. He had always been the main provider in their household, so this and the medical bills, put Bryan and his partner in a very difficult financial situation.
As many of us do, Bryan began using his credit cards to make ends meet with their living expenses. As the balances grew, so did the anxiety of how he was going to continue on like this. His partner shared some thoughts about different programs he could use to get out of the debt situation. Bryan did an extensive search and decided Century was his best bet.
“Century has been great. From the first time that I said hello to a Century representative, until the time I’d say goodbye, they were all really professional. They would explain to me what was going on with my program.”
Bryan has been on the Century program for just under 3 years. He is scheduled to be completing his program in less than a year.
Bryan – Nice job navigating your program and staying the course to realizing better financial health.
Congratulations on your program success, Bryan!
We thank you for trusting us to be a part of your journey toward better financial health and celebrate your diligence in staying with the program to make such great progress!
*We protect the privacy of our clients by changing their names and omitting any identifying details.
June is National Men’s Health Month. Father’s Day is a great reminder to check in on the men in your life. Not only should you tell them that you love them, but you should check in about their health, too. There is some initial research showing that the COVID-19 pandemic can disproportionately affect men, making it more important than ever to maintain your health.
Know Your Risk Factors
The first step toward a healthier life is knowing what factors place you at risk. The top five causes of death among men in the United States are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Fortunately, many of these health problems can be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes. Some of the biggest risk factors for men’s health problems are:
- Smoking. Smoking or using other tobacco products increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. Plus, it makes you vulnerable to severe complications if you get coronavirus. There is no better time to quit than now.
- Poor diet.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Low physical activity.
- Excessive alcohol consumption. The official recommendation is that men should drink no more than two drinks per day. Exceeding this amount increases your risk of health problems.
- Stress and mental health problems. Stress puts you at risk for depression, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Five Easy Steps to Improve Your Health
Overhauling your whole lifestyle can feel daunting. That’s okay. Even small steps can improve your health. Remember, you’re playing the long game. A few changes today can mean years of better health down the road. This month, commit to taking the following five steps to better health:
- Schedule a physical. Getting an annual physical is critical for cancer screening, management of chronic medical conditions, and overall wellness. Plus, an annual physical is covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Call your provider to set up an appointment. If you don’t have a PCP, your insurance company can help you establish care.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your plate. When staying at home more often, many of us are relying too heavily on processed foods, take out, and freezer meals. Rather than trying to overhaul your entire diet, take one or two small steps. Commit to adding one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables to your daily diet. Once you get in the habit, it becomes easier to get the nutrients you need. Remember, canned and frozen vegetables count, too!
- Take time to destress. Stress level creeping upwards? You’re not alone. Between work responsibilities, kids being home from school, and financial worries, many of us are feeling more stressed than ever. Take 10 minutes each day to practice deep breathing and relaxation.
- Get a good night’s rest as often as possible. Sleep is critically important, but it’s often the first thing to go when life gets busy. Start better sleep habits by making a nighttime routine. Shut off your TV and phone 30 minutes before bedtime. Read, listen to music, or do something else calming.
- Get moving. Barely half of U.S. men get the recommended amount of physical activity. The CDC recommends getting 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. Start by going for a walk, taking a bike ride, or doing some push-ups at home. Every little bit helps.
Men’s Health Month is meant to be a community activity. Although the COVID-19 pandemic means many of us have become more physically distant from our friends and family, it’s still important to stay connected. Recruit a loved one to join you in making changes to improve your health. Together, we can build a healthier society.
In honor of National Safety Month we want to talk about financial safety. When we say financial safety, we’re talking about several different aspects of this part of your life. First off, there’s the obvious part of protecting yourself from dangers like credit card fraud and identity theft. But financial safety is more than that. It means making certain that your credit is healthy, not just because there’s no fraud, but because you take measures in your own life to build up healthy credit. Financial safety is about getting out of debt and saving for the future. Let’s take a look at some steps you can take for better financial safety in your life.
Patricia is a Century client preparing to complete her program in the next few months. Her excitement to complete the program in 26 months, versus her original estimated 44 months, is overwhelming. What a great achievement to be closer to her goal of better financial health even faster than she planned!
Patricia was enjoying retirement with her husband Steve. They had raised 5 children and after watching them grow into wonderful adults starting families of their own, they moved to Florida for the next chapter of their lives.
Within a short time of settling into their new adventure, Steve got sick and passed away quickly. Very soon following Steve’s death, Patricia’s youngest child also passed away. Paying for Steve’s unpaid medical costs and two end-of-life expenses was not possible on her retirement income. Patricia had to turn to her high-interest rate credit cards.
When her car broke down and needed $4k worth of work to get it back on the road, Patricia again turned to her credit cards. This was the hardship that made Patricia decide that it was time to find a debt relief solution.
Her eldest son sent Patricia a link to Century’s website and suggested she give us a call. After speaking with our Debt Specialists, she enrolled into her program with 5 accounts. Patricia has been extremely responsive to the Century team and approving her settlements.
Because of her diligence to her goals and the program, 3 of her settlements are completed and 2 are in active payment status. Patricia has saved enough to fully pay the last 2 and complete her program in just 26 months. “Century has been a life saver for me. The staff has been attentive and caring,” Patricia told her Century Account Representative. “I would recommend Century to anyone in need of debt relief”.
Congratulations on your program success, Patricia!
We thank you for trusting us to be a part of your journey toward better financial health and celebrate your diligence in staying with the program to make such great progress!
*We protect the privacy of our clients by changing their names and omitting any identifying details.
Running out of ideas when it comes to keeping your family entertained while in quarantine? With National Scavenger Hunt Day quickly approaching on May 24, now is a great time to start brainstorming ideas for a family-friendly scavenger hunt. From toddlers and kids to teens and adults, these unique scavenger hunt ideas are as exciting as they are budget-friendly!
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
With spring in full swing, many of us are finally able to enjoy some fresh air outside—as long as we’re keeping the appropriate social distance from our neighbors, that is.
One of the best things about a neighborhood scavenger hunt is that you don’t have to put any time (or money) into hiding items; instead, you simply use common objects and sights that are already in out in your community to play! The options for your neighborhood scavenger list are truly endless, but here are some examples of things to look for that can help get you started:
- a license plate with a specific number or letter on it
- somebody walking a dog
- an American flag
- a house with an open window
As part of the stay-at-home movement, many neighborhoods are also participating in scavenger hunts by placing a stuffed animal in a window/door (or something similar), so this may be something to add to your list as well!
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
What if the weather isn’t cooperating enough for a neighborhood scavenger hunt? You can always set up your own indoor adventure. This is where knowing your family and their interests will make all the difference. For younger children, for example, you might consider setting up an educational scavenger hunt that requires your child to find one object in the house that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet. The nice thing about this type of hunt is that once again, you don’t need to buy anything or hide anything.
If you feel like getting a little more creative, consider a themed scavenger hunt. If your teen loves taking selfies (and what teen doesn’t?), set up a list that requires your teenager to take a creative selfie with different objects hidden throughout your home. You can make things even more fun by having your teen post these selfies on social media to get their friends involved and engaged.
Scavenger Hunt With (Socially Distanced) Friends!
Everybody is using video-chatting platforms like Zoom to stay in touch with friends, family, teachers, and classmates during today’s stay-at-home orders. Why not organize a Zoom scavenger hunt with a few friends to make things even more interesting?
Before your Zoom chat, compile a list of items that you’ll have the participants looking for during the scavenger hunt. When the chat begins, you can call out individual items from the list and have the participants bring them to you, keeping score as you go. The fun thing about this type of scavenger hunt is that it allows you to play a game in real-time while practicing social distancing—and it’s especially fun if you have children participating, but you can easily create an adult scavenger hunt as well!
Some clues to consider for your Zoom scavenger hunt include:
- something with four sides
- something that starts with the first letter of your name
- something that smells good
You can get as creative as you want with these socially distanced scavenger hunt ideas, and they’re versatile enough to be tweaked for any age group! Now, which of these will you try for National Scavenger Hunt Day?
Being mindful is more important than ever right now, due to the extra stress and strain the worldwide pandemic has created. While it’s hard to turn off the news and take a break from it all, it’s also a unique opportunity to do something good during a time when life is different and a lot of things are in a sort of holding pattern. You might be off work, or working from home. Your children may be home from school. You might also find that you can’t go a lot of places you used to, and that can leave you feeling bored, restless, and frustrated. Here’s what to consider in May, as you look toward how to be more mindful during the pandemic and well into the future.
Look for the Helpers
If you need or want to keep up with what’s going on in the world, focus on the good news. Letting the stress get you down or make you feel hopeless isn’t good for your mental or physical health. It’s also not honest and realistic. The problems are real, but they will end and things will improve all throughout the world. The pandemic won’t last forever. While it’s still going on — and even after life gets back to something closer to normal — look around for the helpers. There are always people doing good things for others during dark times. If you find them, you see much more of the beauty in the world and the value of sticking together as human beings.
Here are some great resources for people helping others:
Meet the Helpers — Talking to children about COVID-19.
Good Deeds and Helpers — CNN article about pandemic’s ‘heroes.’
Ways to Help the Helpers — NY Times article about the helpers, and helping them.
Provide Hope to Others
If you feel secure enough to reach out to other people, you can provide help and hope during a trying time. Even if you don’t want to go out into the world or you’re concerned about close contact with others, there are a lot of things you can do online. Friends and family may need someone to interact with, and even complete strangers can use some encouragement. That’s true with the current pandemic, but it could easily be true in other times, as well. Once you start helping others, it can make you more mindful about how you’re taking care of yourself and your most important needs in life.
Want to help? Here are some options to consider:
Practice Good Self Care
Self care includes all kinds of different things. It can be chocolate and soft music, or it can be working out and eating that salad instead of the chocolate. With a lot of options for feeling healthier and better, you can choose the ones that work for you. Just remember that caring for yourself means focusing on the things you really need to make your life better, not just what feels good in the moment. By staying mindful of what your body and brain are telling you, you’ll choose the right things to help you care for yourself properly and feel better even during a time that’s not easy for you or most other people.
Consider these self-care options, so you can stay healthy:
Consider Yoga or Meditation
Meditating or performing something that’s good for the body but slower-moving — like yoga or tai chi — can be an excellent way to stay mindful in May and throughout the rest of the year, as well. When you slow down and do something that’s very deliberate, you re-learn how to focus on the present moment instead of everything that’s going on in the world. That focus on the moment can help reduce anxiety, improve depression, and get you thinking about all the good things you still have in your life. Sometimes, a lot of clarity comes to a person when they’re practicing mindfulness, and that can even help you see a way forward.
Online yoga and meditation options can be a great place to start:
Prioritize the Things That Really Matter
For some people, their children or spouse is the most important thing in their life. For others it might be their work, their garden, their exercise routine, or the novel they’re writing. Whatever you find most important, take the time to focus on and improve it. You can look for ways to be closer to the people you care about, or search out a new idea for planting seeds and growing something you’ve always wanted to cultivate. This time, when the planet can feel dark and lonely, is a great time to reconnect with others and with yourself, so you’ll be better able to move in the direction of your dreams and goals as the world slowly returns to normal over time.
Here are some of the best ways to set your priorities:
One of the most important things you can do to be mindful in May and during any other time, though, is to be gentle with yourself. We’re all in this together, but we’re also all experiencing it differently. Everyone has challenges during this time that are unique to them, and recognizing that is a big step toward understanding what it is you really need to focus on in your life.
This month, we’re taking time to shine a light on women’s health. National Women’s Health week begins on Mother’s Day, May 10th. It’s a time to reset and refocus on healthy living. This is more important than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic has many women taking on even more responsibilities at work, their children’s schools, and at home.
A Holistic View of Women’s Health
Too often, women’s health messaging is focused exclusively on diet and weight loss. While those things are important to maintain your health, they’re just one part of a healthy lifestyle. National Women’s Health Week reminds us to take a holistic view of women’s health, including physical, emotional, and psychological health.
Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions to check in about your health:
- How is my mood? Do I feel anxious, depressed, or sad?
- How are my relationships with family and friends? Do I feel supported, or am I feeling lonely?
- Am I managing any chronic health conditions? How well are they managed?
- What is my stress level? What things could make it better?
- How do I feel about my body shape? My physical strength? My ability to engage in activities I enjoy?
- How much sleep have I been getting?
- What have I done in the past week for myself? Do I set aside time for fun and relaxation (even in small amounts)?
- How is my financial health? Am I making progress toward my goals?
- What are my goals for living a healthier life?
Take Steps Toward a Healthier Lifestyle
Once you’ve thought about the questions above, you probably have a sense of areas in which you could be doing better with your health. Many of us are struggling to find a healthy balance during the pandemic, so know that you’re not alone if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or exhausted. That makes it all the more important to take small steps to improve your everyday health. Consider the following ideas to stay healthy during this challenging time:
Go for a daily walk.
Spending some time outside each day is incredibly helpful for your mood. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to move your body. Even places with stay at home orders offer exceptions for personal recreation, so take advantage with a short walk every day.
Set aside time to spend with friends.
Perhaps social distancing means you’ve been feeling lonely and isolated. If a real-life hangout can’t happen, make a date for a video call. Social connection is incredibly important, especially during this stressful time.
Have a home dance party.
Feeling cooped up and stressed out? Put on your favorite tunes and dance it out! You’ll get a natural endorphin boost that will bring a smile to your face. This is also a good way for kids to burn off extra energy.
Make time for meals.
When life gets pressured, mealtimes are often the first things to go. If you’re finding yourself eating in the car, quickly eating at your desk, or mindlessly chowing down in front of a screen, it’s time to carve back some time for meals. Even taking 10 or 15 minutes to focus on what you’re eating can make you feel physically and mentally rejuvenated. Bonus points if you can coordinate with your partner or children for family mealtime.
Research shows that meditation can have a profound effect on your mood, stress level, and even your thinking abilities. Set aside a few minutes each day (before bedtime often works well) to meditate. Free guided meditation apps like Headspace or Calm are a good way to get started.
Women’s Health Week is an opportunity for women across the country to join together in healthier living. To find other people on a journey to healthier living, check out #NWHW and #FindYourHealth on social media. Together, we can build stronger communities and take small steps toward a healthier life.
All across the country people are feeling not just the pressure of a global pandemic, but also that of an economy in free fall. If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in the last two months, or one of the many who has been forced to reduce hours or cut back on work to protect your health and others, you are likely struggling to figure out how you will pay your bills. Fortunately, right now many institutions are providing some breathing room during this time. Here are some options for those who are grappling with making payments right now.
Fortunately, for those worried about being able to come up with enough money for mortgage payments, there is almost certainly relief. If you are able to pay your mortgage this month you should go ahead and do so, and it’s likely that calling them for other information is going to prove hard. Mortgage lenders are being hit with an extremely high volumes of calls, and if you’re one of the many Americans who won’t be able to make their upcoming payment, then it’s time to call immediately and wait until you are able to get through. Currently the federal government is providing some relief.
The CARES Act
For those with federally backed mortgages, Congress enacted a law directly in response to the coronavirus crisis that has two ways of helping struggling homeowners. First of all it guarantees that homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages cannot be foreclosed upon by their lender for 60 days, beginning from March 18, 2020. Additionally, the law gives this group of homeowners who may be having a hard time making payments, the option to request a forbearance for up to 180, as well as the opportunity to extend that for and additional 180 days. This means that it is possible to suspend mortgage payments for nearly an entire year without penalty. What is not yet known, however, is what will happen at the end of the year. Many hope that the missed payments will extend the length of the loan time, but there is no guarantee that this will happen and taking care of the protections offered by the CARES Act could lead to higher payments down the road.
How to Know if You Qualify for the CARES Act
In order to take advantage of the protections offered by the CARES Act, you must have federally-backed loan. In order to find out if you do, you must first determine who services your mortgage. This is the institution or company where you make your payments each month. Your mortgage service provider is required to let you know who owns your mortgage.
If the mortgage is owned or backed by any of the following institutions, then it qualifies for protection under the CARES Act:
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- U. S. Department of Agriculture
- USDA Direct
- USDA Guaranteed
Other Mortgage Payment Relief
If your mortgage is not federally owned or backed, there may still be help available. There are two good options. The first is to once again immediately contact your mortgage service provider. They may offer assistance, though not required to do so by the CARES Act. Additionally, many state governments are offering help. Check your state’s government website to find out more. Also, some private lenders are offering direct relief to homeowners. Bank of America, for instance, has policies in place to directly help those who have mortgages with them. If you are struggling and find out your loan is not federally guaranteed it is worth visiting your lender’s website and calling to see if they either have a general policy in place or can help you in the coronavirus crisis. Many institutions across the board are responding with ways for people to delay payments.
Student Loan Payments
There is some good news on relief with student loan payments. Those with Federal student loans will automatically have those loans placed in forbearance. Originally in March, those needing to delay these payments were told to contact their service providers for student loans. However, as part of the stimulus package passed by Congress, a 6-month period has gone into effect of student loan forbearance. During this time, which runs from March 13, 2020 until September 30, 2020 all federal student loan interest rates have been lowered to 0% and additionally no one is required to make payments. This suspension of payment is automatic and should not require a phone call.
To make certain that your student loan qualifies, you can visit the student loan provider website and sign into your account to see if the payment due is $0. If not, and you need the forbearance, it is worth investing the time to call. Here is some more information about the federal plan for student loan forbearance. Only loans that are through the federal Department of Education will qualify for the forbearance from the stimulus package. Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans do not qualify automatically. For help with paying Perkins loans, borrowers should contact their school directly for more time to pay, while Federal Family Education Loans will require contacting the loan servicer in order to request traditional forbearance.
Although required student loan payments to the federal government are temporarily suspended, the decision about whether or not to pay, if you can afford to, should be carefully considered. For many, the forbearance will only extend the length of the loan. However, for those with Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), the suspended payments will count as regular payments and will not be held against those who are making use of this program.
There has been no federal program to deal with car payments, however some states are in the process of passing legislation to provide relief. Regardless of what state you live in, if you are facing overdue car payments, contact your lender. At the very least, it is likely your lender will provide you with an extension before reporting late payments to the credit bureau. Some are taking proactive steps, including waiving late fees. In fact, to get some relief you may not even need to make a phone call. Simply by visiting your lender’s website, you may find some specific policies in place already to help people struggling to make payments due to the situation. Some, such as Acura Financial Services, allows you to request deferrals by logging in to your account.
During the coronavirus outbreak, Americans have tried to curb the spread of disease by staying home as much as possible and following guidance for sanitizing and social distancing. Some employees can work at home. Judging by the emptier shelves in the baking aisles, others have picked up tasty new hobbies. Still, millions of essential workers need to leave their homes to provide vital services for the rest of us.
If you’re among these essential workers who must leave home to serve the public, please accept our thanks!
If you’re looking for ways to demonstrate your support for the coronavirus heroes who serve you and your family, you might get inspired by these suggestions to demonstrate appreciation.
Supporting Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Outbreak
During these uncertain times, every day should be Essential Workers Day. However, you might pick some particular days to support certain kinds of vital workers.
- Teacher appreciation:
In 2020, Teacher Appreciation Week occurs during the week of May 4. Many teachers have held online classes from home, so they haven’t always had to go back to school. Still, they’ve made a pretty heroic effort to adjust to an entirely new way of educating students in a very short time. Perhaps Teacher Appreciation Week will give you chance to show your gratitude by having students in your household write notes that you can mail or email. That way, your family can let teachers know that they’re missed and appreciated.
- Healthcare workers:
In the US, National Nurse’s Day occurs on May 6. Some people even mark a weeklong celebration that ends on May 12, the birthday of the celebrated nurse, Florence Nightingale. Of course, following the best advice of medical professionals during this crisis is still one of the best ways to support nurses and all healthcare workers. If you do need healthcare, make certain you express gratitude. If you feel inclined, you should know that some hospitals have severe blood shortages and can use donations. You might also contact your local hospital to see if they have any remote volunteer opportunities.
Some essential workers might not have a special holiday dedicated to them. Still, they’ll be happy to see you demonstrate your appreciation of the work they do.
- First responders:
As with healthcare workers, you can best demonstrate support by striving to remain safe and by cooperating with police, paramedics, firemen, and other first responders. You can also visit ThankYouFirstResponder.org to find easy, online ways to express gratitude, share positive stories, and show support for creating a national day of recognition for these important professionals.
- Other essential workers:
Besides teachers, healthcare workers, and first responders, other essential workers include delivery people, mailmen, supermarket clerks, and maintenance people. Mostly, do everything you can to ensure both your safety and their safety by sanitizing contact areas, avoiding unnecessary trips, and following social distancing rules.
It’s also a great time to exercise a little extra patience and kindness. Even if you experience some delays, you should know that all of these vital workers have to operate under additional stress, have concerns about their own families, and are probably doing the best that they can.