The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the various challenges it has caused for many consumers, has thrown curveball after economic curveball throughout the year. These uncertain times have left many working Americans with a host of financial insecurities.
It’s also been difficult to keep up with the shifting legislative terrain of U.S. government relief. As of July 31, Congress put a stop to the $600 unemployment benefits aid that was initially signed as part of the CARES Act. And throughout the month of August, it’s been yet undetermined as to how much unemployment aid will continue to be offered to U.S. citizens. Whether a second stimulus package is in the cards is also something that remains to be seen.
As a replacement measure, Congress suggested the $1 trillion HEALS Act on July 27. It would extend some lost benefits for Americans as well as continued financial relief — among other incentives that include allotments for education and tax relief. It would also potentially include a “return-to-work” bonus of up to $450.
As of the morning of Monday, Aug. 17, pending stimulus relief measures remain up in the air. Uncertainty has been a common theme for 2020. Continued financial stress is definitely no exception to this trend.
Here are some simple tips that you can use to keep up with your finances at any time, but especially during the coronavirus pandemic or other trying times:
Keep an Eye on Your Funds
Keeping a close eye on your account is free, easy to do, and it helps avoid unnecessary fees.
How do you start?
The first step to good account management is to always know how much money is in your account. Remaining aware of your available funds will also help you avoid overdrafts.
Here are a few easy things you can do to track your funds:
- Use Digital Banking and account alerts with push notification, as well as email, or text alerts* to monitor your account balances and account activity.
- If you have made any recent deposits, please keep in mind that deposits are subject to verification and may be unavailable for immediate withdrawal.
- Don’t forget to consider any pending items such as checks you've written that have not reached the bank or pre-authorized ACH debits that have not yet posted to your account.
While we’re talking about financial security, it’s also a good idea to track your recent expenses to ensure there are no fraudulent charges. Digital Banking offers simple tools you can use for this practice.
Link A Separate/Backup Account
As another way to avoid overdrafts, you can link your account to a secondary checking, savings account or Money Market in order to keep your balance positive.
This way, when checks or other debits present against your account in amounts that would create an overdraft or returned items, we transfer funds from your linked account in $100 increments sufficient to cover the items (subject to funds available in the linked account).
(Please note that for this, there is a $7 fee per day.)
Budget and Spend Wisely
Before your next expense, keep in mind your current balance, as well as any living expenses and scheduled payments that could hit your account (such as a utility bill or your rent). When calculating how much you can spend or afford, it’s also a good idea to set a small, untouched amount of money aside. That way you have extra padding just in the case of an unexpected expense.
The art of budgeting includes tracking your current spending, but also establishing your short- and long-term goals. One helpful tip for creating a solid, goal-oriented budget can be to categorize your spending (such as by bills, groceries, childcare, insurance, recreation, and so on).
If you can afford to, it’s also a good idea to set aside an emergency fund or savings for unexpected future expenses.
Keep Your Banking Simple
Academy Bank has a few easy-to-use resources to allow you to bank whenever you want, wherever you are.
24/7 Smart ATMs
You can walk up to any of our high-tech, touch-screen ATMs to easily get cash, make deposits, transfer funds and more. Our Smart ATMs are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Find your closest branch location here.
Our cutting-edge, drive-thru video banking sites provide clients with even greater convenience, flexibility and access. Academy Bank’s video banking sites connect you to a personal banker and offer all the features of a regular ATM, that way you can deposit cash or checks, withdraw cash, make a loan payment, transfer funds, and more from the comfort of your car.
We also offer extended evening and weekend hours. You can find drive-thru video banking sites in the Kansas City area.
Get Started on Good Account Management
It’s never too late to look at your personal finances and get started on financial security, especially in times like these. By following these simple tips and using the resources listed above, you’ll be well on your way to expert account management.
*Message/data rates may apply