How to Keep Financially Healthy During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The current COVID-19 outbreak is not only a public health concern, it also has far-reaching financial impacts. I’ll leave the topic of market volatility to the experts, but there are still plenty of things you can do to stay financially healthy during the current Coronavirus outbreak.

Military Saves’ parent organization, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), has released a list of tips to help you protect your financial well-being.

  1. Check cancelation and refund policies – If you have booked a flight, cruise, train trip, tour, hotel or other travel arrangements and no longer wish to go because of concerns about the virus or because the event you were attending has been canceled, you are not automatically entitled to refunds or credits, but many companies are now making exceptions to their rules.

    Contact all the companies involved – don’t wait for them to contact you. Your credit card may also carry additional protections. If you purchased travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print. Many insurance companies do not cover pandemics or canceled military leave.

  2. Beware of Price-Gouging - While crises often bring out the best in people, they also seem to bring the unscrupulous folks out of the woodwork. Report any price-gouging to your state or local consumer protection agency. Notify companies like eBay or Amazon if you observe sellers hiking up prices to an exorbitant level.

  3. Don’t make hasty changes to your investment accounts – According to CFA, in times of wild market swings, consumers may be vulnerable to scare tactics designed to lure them into “safer” investments that in reality have hidden risks and costs. Salespeople might prey on people’s fears to sell them annuities by claiming that these products “do not lose value like stocks” or are “no cost” investments, neither of which is true.

    Investors can always contact their state securities regulator with questions and concerns about investment offers.

  4. Watch out for other scams – You should always be leery of clicking on links in emails that purport to be from your bank or your insurance company. There are already reports of Corona-related scams. Contact your state or local consumer protection agency before responding. If you think you are the victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

Military families can also contact their installation’s Family Readiness Center or Military OneSource if they are experiencing financial distress or have been the victim of a scam.