How to Use Your Money During Uncertain Times

This week, Maggie is talking about how you can use your money and protect yourself and others during times of uncertainty.

Freaking out about coronavirus, the economy, and impending quarantine? Me too. Here are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do with your money right now.

  1. Don’t Touch Your Investments

  2. Keep Your Emergency Fund Full

  3. Spend Less On Non-Essentials

  4. Take Stock Of What You Already Own

  5. Don’t Stock Up On Things You Don’t Actually Need

  6. Donate To A Local Food Pantry Or Soup Kitchen

  7. Support Your Local Small Businesses

  8. Take Advantage of Ebooks From The Library

Related Links:

Some organizations that you can donate to:

You can find your local food bank here. You can find your local food pantry here.

How to keep yourself safe if you order takeout or delivery:

To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit

To get more involved with Money Circle:

The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano (00:00): Hey there and welcome to the money circle podcast. My name is Maggie Germano and I am your host. This podcast is a podcast for women who want to get their money right without being made to feel like failures. Each week I answer listeners’ money questions and interview amazing women who are lifting other women up with their own work. Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcasting app so that more people will hear about this podcast and listen. So this week I was going to talk about how to prepare to leave a job and how to negotiate the your salary and it was going to be an interview with an important guest, but I decided with everything that’s going on in the world right now that I would come in and address the coronavirus and the anxiety and fears that are happening right now and give a little bit of advice related to your money and the pandemic basically.

Maggie Germano (00:54): So I know that things feel really scary and confusing right now. For many of us, including myself, self quarantining and social distancing is something that is very new, especially in terms of being told that you have to do it right and most likely you’ve also never seen the government and other institutions completely shut offices and events down and tell people to stay home. For me, things got pretty real when my husband came home last Wednesday and said that his office was closed indefinitely, so he’s going to be working from home until things kind of blow over and it feels safe to get back to work. And then last night we were at whole foods and all of the vegetables, meat and pasta were just completely wiped out. Seeing the panic really presented in front of us, like that was very sobering. Of course we were taking it seriously already, but just seeing it there in front of you that people are kind of panicking and stacking up on everything.

Maggie Germano (01:52): Uh, it just made things more real. But hopefully this will pass soon, especially as people are following instructions and staying home and distancing themselves from others. In the meantime, I want to give you some guidance in relation to your money. People’s finances are obviously going to be impacted as the situation continues, especially as we have to stay home and socialize less. You know, we’re going to be traveling less, going out to eat last, probably shopping less and all of those things. But there are things you can do now to both help yourself and help others. So the first, and this is something that I’ve been hearing a whole lot about over the last couple of weeks as the stock market’s been taking a hit and that is to not touch your investments. So I’m sure you’ve heard all of the panic around the stock market and I’m sure you’ve also logged into your retirement account or other investments and seen that they’ve taken a big hit.

Maggie Germano (02:46): And that can be really scary. It’s totally valid to be freaking out about that. Seeing your numbers drop can be overwhelming and it can make you want to take immediate action. However, the most important thing for you to do in this particular instance is nothing. Do not touch your investments, don’t even think about withdrawing your money and don’t go ahead and throw more money at it to buy things on sale. The best thing to do right now is to sit and wait and give the market time to rebound. For most of us, our investments are set aside for longterm goals. This is especially true when it comes to retirement savings. If you’re in your twenties thirties and even your forties you have decades before you will need to withdraw that money for retirement. That means that you have decades for your balance to go back up and down again in reaction to the stock market, so you should sit there, ride this out and leave your money alone.

Maggie Germano (03:41): It will recoup as things stabilize over time. Next piece of advice is to keep your emergency fund full or start building it up if you don’t have one already. If you are a small business owner, a gig employee, a contractor, or a service industry worker, this scenario is exactly what your emergency fund is for. Places are being closed, people are staying inside and spending is going down. I’ve heard many friends say that they’re having work canceled or put on hold due to coronavirus. In my scenario, I was negotiating a speaking engagement for later this spring that’s now on hold. I was supposed to travel to new Orleans for a conference that has been moved to be online instead. There’s just a lot going on and a lot of uncertainty and it can really shake up people’s income and shake up people’s businesses. But even if you’re not self-employed or a service industry worker, someone who has less stable income generally, it can still be a scary time if your office gets shut down or if you’re not able to work remotely.

Maggie Germano (04:50): For example, my sisters, both of my sisters are nurses, so they can’t work from home. They have to go into the office. So if they were unable to work and perhaps didn’t have enough sick days or enough vacation time, they might not be able to have enough money coming in on a day to day basis. So this is the kind of scenario that your emergency fund is for. So making sure that you’re not pulling any money from that fund right now unless it’s absolutely necessary. And if you haven’t been financially impacted yet, if you have a little bit of extra money, start sacking that away into your emergency fund in case this goes on for longer than we think it might, uh, or if you know your family might need your support or something like that. So keeping your emergency fund full or starting to set aside some money now because this is the kind of instance that we are thinking about when we’re talking about emergencies.

Maggie Germano (05:43): Next is spend less on non-essentials. I don’t know about you, but when I know I’m going to be stuck at home, I want to splurge on the things that make me the most comfortable. The first thing I did on Thursday night was bake chocolate chip cookies because I was like, Oh, if we’re going to start quarantining and distancing ourselves from others, I want comfort food and I want the things that are going to make me feel better. But that you know in small quantities that can be good, but that’s not always a great idea because like I said, you know regarding the emergency fund, if there’s less money potentially coming in, you want less money actually going out. So when it comes to things like shopping right now or splurging on different things that you think you might need when you’re stuck at home, just try to cook exercise a little bit of caution when you’re doing that so that you don’t go overboard on the non-essentials and leave yourself with maybe not enough on the for the things that you really do need like medication or food or other things like that.

Maggie Germano (06:45): Next is take stock of what you already own. Like I said, last night when my husband and I were at the depleted whole foods, we were racking our brains for what kinds of meals we could make with no vegetables and no meat. Luckily we have a lot of frozen food in our freezer that we never seem to get around to as we defer to fresh foods most of the time. So we decided to buy what we needed. That was available. And then go through our freezer tonight to see what we already have and let that inform our meals moving forward for the week. So before you go to the grocery store or order food online, you should go through and take stock of what you already have. It’s so easy to forget about what is shoved in the back of the cabinet or the freezer. And you might be surprised about what you already have.

Maggie Germano (07:31): This can help save you money, prevent you from leaving the house and still provide you with the nourishment that you are that you might actually need over the next couple of weeks. Plus you’ll finally be able to use up those staples that you stocked up on but never actually used next. And this is kind of related to that, but don’t stock up on things you don’t actually need. And I say that because there are lots of people out there who might actually need those things more than you do. So I’m sure if you’ve been on the internet anywhere or texting with any friends or family, you see that things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer and face masks and all of those things are just going completely out of sock. People are, they’re flying off the shelves, people are buying them up, some people are even turning around and then selling them online for much more money, which is not super nice.

Maggie Germano (08:22): But regardless, there are a lot of things that are getting sold out. The stores are not able to turn around and restock them in time and so a lot of people are going without the things that they need. So not only might you be overspending on things that you might not need cause you’re buying them out of panic, but you might also be preventing somebody else who really needs something. Say the medical face masks. A lot of those are getting depleted at stores and so the people who actually need them, like medical personnel or people who are already, they actually need those in order to protect themselves and stay safe. And if healthy people are buying them up, then that is taking away from those people. Plus you’re wasting your money if it’s not something you actually need. So I think a little bit harder when you’re going out there and trying to buy up certain things if you don’t actually need them, maybe put it back for now.

Maggie Germano (09:19): Next, and this is less of a piece of advice for you to protect your own finances and more of a suggestion for being able to help others and that is to donate to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. A lot of kids won’t be getting their school meals for awhile while schools are closed and for many children, their lunch is actually the only guaranteed meal of the day. So closing schools can add even more uncertainty to those kids’ lives. That’s why I was so happy to see that my County will be providing grab and go lunches every day while schools are closed. Plus there are lots of restaurants like good stuff eatery and DC that are letting kids eat for free during this time. It’s an amazing way to make sure that you’re helping your community and making sure that people are getting enough food to eat.

Maggie Germano (10:07): However, it’s not just children who might be going hungry right now. A lot of gig workers and service industry folks will be losing their income as their companies closed down and people stay home and those people all still need to eat. So I recommend that you donate money to a local food pantry or soup kitchen in your area. And yes, I said money and not your unwanted canned food that you’re never going to eat. There’s going to be much higher demand during this time. So donating money, maybe a much more effective way to help out. Then just donating kind of cans of food that you sort of have laying around. Plus you might want to hold onto your pantry essentials at the moment. So some organizations you can donate to are just, just to give a couple examples, are meals on wheels and in DC, the capital area food bank, as always, you should only give what you can actually afford.

Maggie Germano (11:00): You have to put your own oxygen mask on first. So make sure that all of your financial needs are met before you donate elsewhere. If you’re interested in finding your local food bank and doing a quick search, you can go to feeding and find a food bank near you. If you’re looking for a food pantry, you can go to food and it’ll let you select your state where you can see what food pantries are around near you that you can send money to and give a little back. Next is supporting your local small businesses. So as I said, already, local businesses are already hurting due to closings and people saying home places might end up laying people off or even closing for good. But even though we should be staying home, we can still help these businesses stay afloat. So one way I’ve seen people recommending online is to buy gift cards online.

Maggie Germano (11:56): So maybe you can’t go to their store or their restaurant right now, but you can still go online and buy a gift card to sock away for later, uh, or even, you know, order something online. Like if it’s a, uh, a place that sells goods and you can order that online, that’s a really good way to show your support right now. Uh, next is to order takeout or delivery. Although I was torn on this one because it seems like this could still spread the virus cause you never know if the person who is preparing the food or packaging the food or delivering the food might be carrying the virus. But the world health organization in the CDC actually haven’t given specific guidelines on this yet. So take it as you will, right? Like if you’re really worried about that or if you’re immunocompromised or if you are living with someone or you’re going to be near someone who a is more at risk than maybe this isn’t a great idea.

Maggie Germano (12:51): However, I did find one article that gives some advice on how to keep yourself safe while still actually being able to order food. So I will link that in the show notes so that you can see how to do that. Another way to support your local small businesses is to just send them money. So if you see your favorite business raising money online via Venmo, PayPal, or go fund me, that might be a great opportunity to chip in. Of course, you should only be taking these steps if you can actually afford them. Like I said already, you should limit your non-essential spending and I really do mean that, but if you do have money to spare and you can afford to give a little bit extra to your local businesses, this is a great way to help out. Last but not least, take advantage of electronic resources from your local library.

Maggie Germano (13:39): Chances are most likely your library is closed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to buy books online or just forego reading to stay occupied during this scary time. I’m a huge fan of the Libby app and it lets me rent eBooks from my library directly through the app instead of having to go to the library. So it allows me to get my books for free even without leaving the house. And this approach is even more important right now. You can get the resources directly from your library’s website or you can use apps like Libby to download them. This is a great way to spend a little less, but still make sure that you’re connecting with the creativity and the resources that you’re really looking for and you know, don’t kind of get too much cabin fever. I hope that these tips were helpful and I hope that it calms you down a little bit, especially in terms of the stock market.

Maggie Germano (14:34): But it’s actually okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be nervous. I am too. I’m getting anxious as things are kind of shifting and changing and there’s different guidelines and everything around us as sort of closing down. It definitely is scary and uncertain. So stay safe there. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, both your physical and your mental health and that of your loved ones. But don’t forget about the rest of us too. We’re all in this together. I will share more information on the Corona virus and why social distancing is so important in the show notes. And so make sure you check those out. So that you’re getting as much information as you need to stay informed. Good luck and I hope to see you in person soon.

Maggie Germano (15:25): Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcasting app so that more people will hear about this podcast and listen if you’d like to get more connected with money circle or with me. There are lots of ways you can do that. To join the free Facebook group, visit To stay informed about any upcoming events, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at To sign up to attend the next money circle meetup, visit To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or to just read my blog, visit You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano. Thanks again for listening.