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Tips for keeping credit card debt down during the coronavirus pandemic

With Arizona's unemployment rate hovering around 12%, it's getting harder and harder for families to make it without turning to credit cards to make ends meet.

PHOENIX — Financial Advisor and Psychologist Dr. Dan Pallesen has a few pieces of advice for anyone who is having trouble navigating the financial pitfalls during this period of lockdown due to COVID-19.

Be aware of your budget

It’s the one thing that makes many shy away from financial planning. Budgets don’t have to be complicated and restrictive. Pallesen  says it’s just a way to see where you are spending your money.

“Then just evaluating, is this something that is important to me or my family,” Dr. Pallesen said. “Is this something that we need?  If you are able to eliminate any costs, that’s a really good place to start.  Just doing a spring cleaning of your budget.”

Not because of the virus, but because there could be some items you find that you just don’t need anymore.

“Try to sell those and turn that into a little bit of income for your family,” Dr. Pallesen said. “I don’t recommend selling things you will end up needing after this pandemic, but anything that’s lying around, try to sell that, just rid your household of those extra items.”

Take advantage of available programs

“There has been an increase in programs that are set up to help Americans get back on their feet.” Pallesen said.

Unemployment benefits were expanded at the beginning of the quarantine.

On May 20, Gov. Doug Ducey waived the one-week waiting period after an employee losses a job before they can apply for unemployment benefits.  He also waived the work search requirements for people receiving unemployment.  

This could help those who expect to be hired back to their original positions as the state reopens.

Pallesen recommends those needing help to visit the sba.com, a small business resource website for a guide to available programs.

The Small Business Administration also compiled a list of resources that could be helpful.

Look for ways to increase your income

With emerging technologies that have come to the forefront during the pandemic, Pallesen suggests looking for ways to harness that technology to increase your earning potential.

“If you are running a small business or if you are an employee, I would encourage you to look at the skills that you have that you can now start to offer to others,” Pallesen said.  

“Whether its innovating by doing more virtual visits with clients, doing some coaching with people that are going through the same thing you had to go through, there are so many ways for you to get in contact with other people with platforms like Zoom.  Look at ways to actually increase some income.  I think the companies that will come out of this- not just the giant corporations but small businesses too- are the ones that are able to innovate during this tough season.”

Create a vision

“Not just ‘how will you survive this pandemic,’” Pallesen said. “But how will you come out the other side thriving?”

Pallesen says to look for lessons you’ve learned from working-from-home or anything you can use to create a niche skill or life lessons you can share with others.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article spelled Dr. Dan Pallesen's name incorrectly. It has since been updated.