Achieving Savings, Dependent on Food Banks: Americans Are Taking Immediate Action Amid the Pandemic, CNBC + Acorns’ poll found

Jessica Cruz and her family were in trouble.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, Cruz, a 39-year-old care coordinator in New York, and her two children, ages 10 and 14, were sent home to work and remotely attend school.

This put a strain on the family budget, as Cruz’s kids got free breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack at school. While they were qualifying for the Pandemic EBT program, the card only came in the mail last week, Cruz said – more than 10 months after the children were first sent home.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, helps eat at Breadline of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City on February 17, 2021.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Another urgent income from Cruz was her final approval in April for a two-bedroom apartment in the New York Housing Authority’s King Towers building in Manhattan, which she waited nine years.

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To get it all done at once, Cruz needed help. She could borrow money from an aunt to move, she said, and luckily got the first of two stimulus checks in the same week, which helped with costs.

But food was still a problem, so Cruz said the family first used a grocery bank for the New York City pantry when they started school.

“It just stretched my paycheck a little more,” said Cruz. Before the pandemic, she had never gone to a pantry for help. (The Food Bank for New York City saw a 91% increase in first-time visitors in the first few months of the pandemic, the organization said.)

Covid caused many to take emergency financial measures

Cruz isn’t alone – according to a recent survey by CNBC + Acorns Invest in You, 40% of Americans have taken immediate financial action in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey was conducted by SurveyMonkey between February 1st and 8th among a national sample of 6,182 adults.

For many, immediate financial measures meant either savings or a request for help. Thirteen percent bet on a savings account, twelve percent borrowed money from a family member or friend, and eleven percent used a grocery bank.

The survey found that women had higher rates than white men with any emergency measures taken, reflecting existing inequalities in the US that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Almost a quarter of black women and 17% of Latin Americans borrowed money from their family or a friend, compared with 9% of white men.

“It really shows how dire this situation is for a lot of people,” said Leigh Phillips, CEO of SaverLife, a nonprofit that focuses on financial security.

The report also highlights the importance of emergency savings and other lifelines when an unforeseen event like the pandemic occurs.

“It hurts a little pride to take some of these steps, which is understandable,” said Stephen Fletcher, certified financial planner and senior wealth advisor at BlueSky Wealth Advisors in New Bern, North Carolina. “But it’s not something to feel guilty about.”

Having some savings or getting help from family, friends, or other programs like a food bank can help people stay afloat without running into debt, Phillips said.

“We’re trying to avoid that,” Phillips said, adding that it was especially important as many people had long gaps between state aids such as unemployment insurance or economic reviews during the pandemic.

How to build up savings after an emergency

There are a few things experts recommend for those looking to regain savings and reset their personal finances after an experience like the pandemic.

For those hardest hit by the pandemic, Phillips said many of the usual savings recommendations can be daunting. She advises people to save as much as possible as often as possible, even if it means small amounts. Studies have shown that even saving $ 100 can protect families from adverse events like shutting down utilities or moving house.

“If it’s $ 5 a week that’s great,” she said.

Another tip that can help low-income people increase their savings is to plan for larger pieces of incoming cash, such as cash. B. another stimulus check or a tax refund.

“This is a great time for people to start building emergency savings,” said Phillips.

Just a few months of help can make all the difference, especially for those in need of government help.

Cruz is doing better now – the second stimulus check she received was a huge help and she finally got p-EBT benefits for her children. In addition, she recently received a raise at work and her tax refund, she said, which further supports her family’s financial situation.

“We’re fine now,” she said.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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