15 Smart Money Moves For Canadians To Make During The Coronavirus Outbreak

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I’ll start by saying this – Covid-19 and the broad shutdown of not only businesses, but entire industries is an unprecedented financial disaster for many people. While we are lucky that our government is scrambling to get programs in place to help ensure that the impact on people is not as catastrophic, this is going to be a dark time for some.

That said, in every setback, there is an opportunity. No matter what your situation or level of ability, there’s probably something on this list that can help you regain some footing during this difficult time. I’m not suggesting that anything here is a viable long-term alternative to your regular employment, but rather, a stop gap. A place to help you earn enough money to get through this with your finances intact.

How Can Canadians Make Money During Covid-19?

Check Which Benefits You are Eligible for, and Apply Now

I’m not going to cover the application process in any detail here, but there is a lot being offered in the way of assistance for Canadians. From the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, to increased Child Tax Benefits and a moratorium on student loan repayment, there are new programs being announced almost daily.

The point is, there’s probably something that you can apply for. For a full list of the federal benefits available, and guidance on which ones may apply to you, check out the CRA website here.

There are also provincial benefits available. You can also check out a list of benefits offered by each province on CTV’s website.

Check if the Canada Revenue Agency Owes You Money

If you haven’t seen the articles going around about this on social media lately, here’s the deal. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a tool that shows if you are owed any money from the Canadian government.

It costs you nothing to check and I’ve heard of people finding hundreds of dollars in unpaid tax returns due to something so simple as an address change. 

To check, simply log in to your CRA account. Under “related services,” found on the right hand side of your browser, you will see an option titled “uncashed cheques” at the bottom of the list. Click on that link and you will be able to see if there are any cheques that have been left uncashed for six months or more.

Get a Job in a Different Industry

The WHO, Canadian Health Minister and the provincial health authorities are recommending that we practise social distancing. I absolutely recommend that you follow these instructions if you are able. That said, some people have children to support or other responsibilities that can not be put off and need work right now.

While this pandemic is kicking the crap out of the economy, there are a few industries that are seeing an uptick in business and need help. Here are a few places that you might want to consider applying for temporary work while you’re waiting this thing out.

Grocery stores

Most grocery stores in my area are actively looking for staff. With people buying more supplies than usual in preparation for an unknown period of isolation, they just don’t have the manpower that they need.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is another retailer that is remaining open for the time being. People still need access to basic supplies, and stores like Wal-Mart are important in keeping households stocked during this time.

Other large retailers

Home Depot, Lowe’s and others are still open and potentially in need of more staff to deal with the crisis. Many people are choosing to self-isolate, and that is leaving some large retailers scrambling to find staff and cover shifts so that they can stay open for us.

Deliver for Amazon

With so many people responsibly choosing to stay at home, Amazon has become an important source of daily necessities for some of us. Though I haven’t seen numbers from Amazon, my personal spending, as well as that of some close friends has increased.

If you live near an Amazon distribution center or a courier that delivers goods from online shopping, you quite likely could find some work there. You should check out Amazon Flex as well. According to the site, you can earn $22-$27/hr delivering Amazon packages in your own vehicle full or part-time.

Skip The Dishes

With everybody staying home, many of us still want to support our local restaurants. Skip the dishes is a great way to do this. As a Skip The Dishes driver, you are responsible for picking up food from restaurants, and delivering it to people’s homes. There is no need for human contact as the package can be left at the doorstep.

Make Some Money Online

This isn’t by any means a ‘make money online’ post, but I would be remiss not to mention that there are hundreds of ways to make money online during this time. This could be a great time to learn new ways to make money online via blogging, surveys, affiliate marketing, creating a course or selling an affiliate product.

For a more exhaustive look at ways to make money online during Covid-19, check out this post from my friend Tom over at MapleMoney.

Start Freelancing

Can you build websites, design logos, write quality content, help with SEO or provide other freelance services? Now may be the time to think about trying your hand as a freelancer. There are several places that you can start advertising your services today. A few of my favorites are Upwork, Craigslist, Kijiji and Fiverr.

Sell Valuable Items

One reliable way to make extra cash is to sell things that you don’t need right now. While this can be a quick way to make some needed cash, make sure to keep yourself and your family safe and maintain social distancing while showing items.

Money can be exchanged via email money transfer to keep physical contact to a bare minimum. Some of the more valuable and easy to sell items include vehicles, tools, musical instruments, furniture and collectibles. For a list of the best things to sell for extra money, check out this post.

Switch Banks

Some banks offer really good incentives to switch. Tangerine for example, will give you up to $200 in total if you open a new bank account, deposit a minimum of $250 and set up either two recurring bill payments, or payroll direct deposit.

Not a bad deal, right? You’re not likely to be going to the physical branch anytime soon anyways so maybe now is the time to look at switching to an online bank.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Homeowners may be able to pull some equity out of their house to help get them through this time. Rates are low right now, and if you’re up for renewal soon anyways, or won’t be subject to a large penalty for an early refinance, consider looking into it as a way to free up some cash flow.

Ways for Canadians to Save Money During Covid-19

Make an emergency budget

Your standard budget may not be the best tool to get you through a time when you’re not working. Consider building a new ‘emergency budget’ that eliminates expenses that are not absolutely necessary during this time.

Build a frugal meal plan to reduce food spending

For many of us, food is our second or third largest expense after housing and possible transportation. Consider building a meal plan based off of cheap staples such as rice, beans and lentils. Yes, it will probably get boring but you can do a great deal to make food more paletable by learning how to use spices.

Defer your mortgage

While it’s not yet clear how the major banks are handling this, the Canadian government has asked them to be willing to defer mortgages for up to six months to prevent families from losing their homes during this time. This could be a simple way to free up some money for the necessities while many of us are short on work.

Uninsure unused vehicles

In BC where I live, vehicle insurance is quite expensive, often running well over $100/month. If you have two vehicles, consider uninsuring one and getting a storage policy as a way to reduce your expenditures.

Reduce cell phone/cable and internet plans

If you’re self-isolating, you likely have wi-fi at home and don’t need a huge data plan. You can change your plan over the phone with most carriers and could probably save $20-50/month by reducing your cell phone plan to a more minimal option.

Defer car payments

Many Canadians have car payment obligations that don’t go away because you’re self-isolating. Consider phoning your creditor and asking if they would consider giving you a deferral of one or two months to help ensure that you will be able to meet your obligations.

I have done this in the past and found that they were more than willing to help out. They lose money when they have to repossess vehicles, so they’re generally willing to try and help you avoid that.

Cancel unnecessary subscriptions

Lastly, you might want to consider cancelling unnecessary subscriptions. While I can’t imagine that many people are going to be cancelling Netflix or Prime Video right now, it might be a good time to take a second look at other subscription services.

Spotify, Play Music, Audible, subscription boxes of all kinds and web-based tools that you won’t need during this time would be a good place to start.

Final Thoughts

This pandemic is really hard on almost everybody. Remember though, this will end one day. The world will go back to normal, as difficult as that is to believe right now.

I believe that best move is to try and get through this with the resources you have on-hand, and what you can earn in the meantime. Try not to panic sell things and investments, but rather build a plan and make calculated decisions about what to do.

While things seem grim (and indeed they are) at the moment, the market typically recovers in time and you’re almost certainly going to lose more money in the long run by selling now.

Care to share?

Mike Greig

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