Don’t Corona My Cash
Spring 2020 was awash with reports of the worldwide financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses struggle to stay afloat amid closures, and income stability falters, our economic future can seem unclear. However, even in an uncertain economy, those who have basic money skills can take comfort in knowing that financial principles remain steady amid the ebb and flow of economic transitions.
In response, the University of Idaho Extension personal finance team cultivated an eight-part webinar series tailored to the coronavirus crises, Don’t Corona My Cash.
“When the economy hits a rough spot people tend to want more personal finance programs,” said Luke Erickson, UI Extension personal finance specialist. “We responded quickly with an online survey to assess needs of the community and found a representative sample of the needs of clientele throughout the state.”
The survey asked the online community what would be most helpful — what financial topics interested them and what was causing them stress.
“We even asked them for input on the titles for potential class modules,” Erickson said. “We wanted titles to represent what we were trying to do. The last thing we wanted was for the class itself to be doom and gloom. We wanted to address serious topics but do it in a lighthearted way that conveyed optimism and hope. One suggestion was ‘Don’t Corona My Cash.’ We felt like it fit the tone of our program perfectly.”
Erickson taught the first module, Keep Your Cash with Stimulus Stash, which addressed stimulus checks — what they are, how citizens will receive them and what ways we can use them to temporarily boost income. Erickson said,
“We taught goal setting and making overall financial plans and how to determine the best place to put your money. It’s different for every individual,” Erickson said.
Individualization is a perspective the UI Extension finance team emphasizes — financial goal setting depends on each person’s values and goals and what they want to spend their money on. But the team didn’t just focus on individual financial goals, they provided principles with a holistic spin.
“What To Do When Your Income Drops was another module,” Erickson said. “Some people have lost their jobs entirely. We gave tips on how they could manage that situation as well as tips about managing stress, especially regarding finances.”
The other modules carried similar themes. Stretch Your Dollars: Your Health points out that taking care of your health saves money; the Getting Back to Normal module discusses other options we might not have considered prior to the crisis.
“We wanted to emphasize that this is tough, but you know what? We are going to get through it,” Erickson said.
Looking For the Positive
The intent of the series was built on the principle that knowledge gives people a way to alleviate fear of the unknown.
“Sometimes the fear that is born out of a crisis is worse than the reality,” Erickson said.
Though many people are going through difficult times, there can be upsides and positive opportunities to take advantage of, if only they know about them.
“When the market drops it can be a great time to invest in the market, for example,” Erickson said. “Or, a major shakeup like this might inspire a transition in your life — like going back to school, considering location changes or job transitions. Step back and redefine what you value and what you really want.”
And when it comes to financial success, Erickson compares it to other life maintenance, like mental or physical health.
“Success is a process that you work at,” Erickson said. “We hope people can build some solid habits out of this program that they can put into practice and use now and into the future. These are healthy habits that we can all reach and maintain in the long term.”
All eight Don’t Corona My Cash finance modules were recorded and are available to view for free at uidaho.edu/extension-finance.