NEW YORK (WABC) -- If you have had trouble paying your bills or making your rent and mortgage since the pandemic began, you've got plenty of company.
Forty-one percent of all adults in the United States are struggling according to a recent study.
The coronavirus crisis has made it clear how important a financial cushion can be.
It's called the "50-30-20 rule." It's a budget where half of your take-home pay should go to housing and other cost of living expenses like groceries and utilities. Then 30% goes to recreation and entertainment like take out and going out. The remaining 20% should go right into savings. If 20% seems too high, take baby steps and start with 5%.
The best way to save is to BOOST YOUR SALARY. Try learning a new skill. Look to online courses, which are exploding right now.
Money.com suggests fast-track certifications, which cost a lot less than in-person tuition. Learning a new language, for example, may boost your salary by up to 20%.
GET A BETTER DEAL ON CAR INSURANCE: With millions of us not commuting, we're behind the wheel a lot less. If you opt to have your driving data tracked and shared with your insurer, you could save anywhere between 5% and 40% in premiums.
If you or someone in your family's enrolling in college, DON'T TAKE YOUR FIRST FINANCIAL AID OFFER. Remember, it's a student's market right now with enrollment low. Appeal your first offer; colleges are willing to offer more help, discounts grants and scholarships to get you in the door whether virtually or on campus.
Two more big takeaways:
SIGN UP FOR BANK ALERTS. Simply opting for text or email notifications will tip you off to any fraudulent bank charges or withdrawals.
NEGOTIATE YOUR BILLS with your landlord, your parking garage, your satellite radio, and your credit card company. The pandemic's pinch has made creditors more understanding. Explain your financial hardship. Remember you won't get anything unless you ask.
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