Good morning! Today we’re talking about the elephant in the room: FINANCES.
From reading the news this morning – it looks like Mayor Castor and the state of Florida are going to be pushing for the shutdown of all non-essential travel/work beginning sometime next week to prevent the spread of the virus through our city.
Yes. That absolutely sucks. It will put even more people out of work for at least a month, maybe even more. But it is necessary. The best we can do is accept it, move on, and prepare.
On that note I’ve started preparing my house, family, and finances and found out a lot of valuable information I’d like to share with you:
- Phone Bills: Starting March 14th, AT&T has been waiving late fees and will not be terminating service for past due accounts for 60 days. I’m sure other providers are offering similar breaks to their customers so reach out to your phone, internet, and cable companies ASAP to give yourself some peace of mind.
- Electric Bills: TECO has suspended disconnects through at least April and will probably do so beyond that. If you’re struggling to pay your electric bill you can receive payment assistance through their SHARE program, a partnership between TECO and The Salvation Army. For Hillsborough County SHARE please call 813-226-0005 or visit this website https://www.tampaelectric.com/company/community/share/.
- Other Utilities: If you need assistance with water, sewer, gas etc in the Tampa Bay Area you can apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides immediate assistance to families with children ages 5 and under or those who have elderly or disabled family members. More info here: https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1553
- Cash: This is a little bit of a long-shot and may not be administered the same way through a crisis but it’s worth mentioning. It’s called the Temporary Cash Assistance Program (TCA) and is available to provide emergency case to families with children as well as pregnant women. Filling out the application can also get you signed up for Medicaid and Food Stamps in one fell swoop. Check out more info here: http://www.floridapsc.com/Files/PDF/Publications/Consumer/Brochure/WhereToFindHelp.pdf
- Unemployment Benefits: SIGN UP NOW!!! Seriously, as soon as your hours are cut or you’re laid off go to http://www.connect.myflorida.com (Florida Department of Economic Opportunity) to sign up for benefits, it’s where part of the Government Stimulus is going to go so this is your way to benefit. Because of the outbreak it will be much, much easier for you to become eligible for programs like the Reemployment Assistance Program which provides individuals with up to $275/ week and can be used in conjunction with a part time job. More info here: http://www.floridajobs.org/Reemployment-Assistance-Service-Center/reemployment-assistance/claimants/apply-for-benefits
Hopefully this little bit of info can save you some headache and some cash as we move into this new world. Please let me know if you have any questions, I’m researching and finding new stuff out daily!