Whether you call it a pandemic, an epidemic or just a mess, there’s no question COVID-19 has turned our world upside down.

In a nation of 330 million people, there are so far 3.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases — about one percent of the total population. The virus has claimed just over 135,000 lives, which represents .04 percent of the population.

But of course the effect is much broader than that.

According to NBC News, more than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs because of COVID-19. In other words, for every COVID-attributed death in the United States, nearly 150 people have lost their jobs.

Paradoxically, some unemployed Americans are actually earning more money each month than they did when they were working. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act added an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits to recipients’ checks during the pandemic, until July 31st of this year (assuming it’s not extended).

So if you’ve found yourself with a little extra money coming in over the last few months — assuming you still have it — there are five things you ought to think about doing.

1. Build up your emergency fund
The overnight shutdown of the economy caught everyone by surprise. And who knows? We might get another one. If we learned anything, it’s that having a cushion of cash is essential. Experts recommend at least three month’s worth of expenses, and ideally six should be socked away. Calculate your “monthly nut” to include things like rent or mortgage, insurance, car payments, groceries and utilities.

2. Pay off credit card debt
In a perfect world, we would only charge on our credit cards what we could pay off each month. But that’s not always possible. While mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, interest rates on credit cards are well into double digits. And if you’re only able to pay the minimum each month, you, can quickly get in over your head. Use extra cash to pay off your credit card debt, and if you can, try not to add new purchases to your cards.

3. Prepare for higher taxes
Yes, it sucks. But if you’re earning more, you may have to pay more in taxes. If you’re getting to the top of your tax bracket, you might consider putting some money in a tax-deferred retirement account. If you think you might owe taxes, that’s something you should add to your emergency fund, so you’re not caught short.

4. Put some towards your long-term goals
We’re all about instant gratification these days, but there’s nothing more rewarding than having a long-term goal and then achieving it. Saving for a new car, a down payment on your dream house, trips on your bucket list, or a comfortable retirement isn’t something that happens overnight, but it’s something your need to work and plan for. Once you’ve paid off that high interest debt, and built up your cushion, you can work on making your dreams come true.

5. Buy American!
The great thing about this last point is you can do it no matter where you are in your financial goals. There’s always been debate about a “trickle down” economy, but let’s starting thinking about buying American as “trickle up.” Every little bit you can do to buy products made in America by Americans helps our economy, our communities and our fellow citizens. It’s trendy to buy groceries, beer and wine from local producers. But it should always be a priority to buy American.

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