Even though life will be back to normal probably quicker than we think, the reality is that life, business, and the local economy still all have bills to pay. As of Tuesday March 17, 2020, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 179,111 with 7,426 deaths reported, and these figures in all likelihood will continue to rise before we see the situation taper off.1 States, townships and cities are being called upon to take decisive action to slow or halt the spread of this unprecedented situation.
Right now, the widespread attempted solution is self-isolation and so called "social distancing" across the USA to help prevent the virus from spreading. Events have been canceled on a large scale, gatherings have been prohibited or restricted, schools have closed and moved online and "nonessential" businesses are required to either close, reduce hours or minimize their contact with customers. Small and local businesses are likely to suffer greatly, and we've even seen a decline in normal business operations and appointments here at our office as well. If communities are vigilant however, there are several ways you can still support your favorite spots and help your local economy come out the other side just as strong as ever.
Tip #1: Purchase Gift Cards
Think about buying a gift card for your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or anywhere you like to hang out or get them as a gift for a friend or family member. Some places may even accept payment online, eliminating the need to visit in person. You're going to go back there anyway, so effectively you're giving one of your favorite spots an interest-free loan to help weather the storm.
Tip #2: Buy Local Produce
If your community has a local farmer’s market, visit and stock up on vegetables, fruits or local proteins. If you are a weekly customer, consider purchasing a bit more than usual, as the market may have to close in weeks to come. Freezing, canning or finding creative ways to utilize these local veggies and fruits is another way to spend the extra time allotted from social distancing.
Tip #3: Shop for Products Online
If a restaurant or coffee shop that you like has an online store option, check out their offerings and place an online order. Maybe it’s something as simple as a branded t-shirt, hat, or coffee cup. Purchasing products from local businesses, even online, helps sustain them during the pandemic. Also think about buying artwork or albums online from smaller artists or local musicians who will miss out on extra sales from canceled events, art shows and concerts. Now has never been a more relevant time to support a local artist.
Tip #4: Purchase Books from a Local Retailer
You can't go out to events as normal right now, so why not catch up on some reading? Outside forms of entertainment are canceled or prohibited, and reading is an excellent way to stay busy and keep your mind sharp. Picking up some books from the bookstore for yourself and your family can also help small retailers stay afloat. Since more and more stores are closing, you may want to go as soon as possible - within reason of course. If your local area has restrictions, please follow the rules in order to keep yourself and others safe.
Tip #5: Over Tip
Some restaurants and service-based businesses are closing completely. Particularly, some restaurants are still offering delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout as options. Consider ordering food from a local restaurant for pick-up, and tip a bit more to help out the workers who will be missing out on a large portion of their pay. If you're able to over tip, you'd be really doing a huge favor to service based workers who could be suffering more than you during this time. I got a 20 dollar haircut a couple of days ago and tipped 50%. We can all do our part. Remember, this is your local economy and you're helping a neighbor.
Tip #6: Donate Your Refund if You Can
If you had an event, concert, play, or festival gathering that was cancelled on you, donating your refund back is an enormous help to these organizations, artists and performers who are currently being completely cut off from an important source of income. I used to be a stage performer many years ago before I got into the retirement planning profession so believe me, I know. You can also choose to donate the refunded amount to other individuals, organizations or restaurants if you see the need.
Tip #7: Help Local Businesses to Market Themselves
Spread the word! Tell someone or post online about your favorite local hangouts, meeting spots, restaurants, and stores. You can do this by leaving online reviews, interacting with their social media posts, and sharing their accounts with your own following to show your support. These marketing efforts may seem small, but they can go a long way when it comes to attracting customers.
Preventing the spread of this pandemic requires effort from each individual, state, and country. We all have to take responsibility, follow the rules, and play it safe. Just as health risks are on the rise, however, the financial implications are also increasingly concerning. For many, the ripple effects of financial loss are much scarier than the actual virus itself. By supporting local businesses in creative ways, you can help sustain your favorite local places through the current hardships.
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About the author: Kyle A. Davis is a Chartered Financial Consultant® , Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® , and president of Integrity Financial Group in Orlando, FL. He is a Florida native and an advocate for financial literacy and practical money education. When not assisting clients in planning for retirement, he creates educational videos on financial wellness on his YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/user/financialplannerinfl
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as investment, tax, or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.