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Stepping Up

Mike Zaccardi  |  April 3, 2020

COVID-19 HAS HIT all of us. Small business owners, especially those with families to support, face great financial risk. Ditto for contract workers and others with little job security. Even those with relatively steady nine-to-five white collar jobs have good reason to be nervous.

Meanwhile, those nearing retirement might need to put their plans on hold. Millennials like me, though we lived through 2008, have more financial responsibility this time around—and sense the gravity of COVID-19 and its consequences.

In short, we’re all in this together and we should all support one another as best we can. Here are eight ways you can help:

1. Donate to charity. Give food and other nonperishable items to those in need. Donate cash to help purchase medical supplies. The fiscal stimulus plan allows a $300 above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions. That means you can make a tax-deductible donation even if you take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing. In addition, there’s a growing need for blood, particularly from the younger generation, according to the Surgeon General.

2. Support first responders. Think about all the people putting themselves at risk each day to serve us: doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, caregivers, police officers, firefighters, delivery drivers and grocery store workers. If you know someone on the frontlines, ask him or her what you can do to help. Alternatively, you might send flowers or a gift with a note.

3. Purchase gift cards. In lieu of dining out—which is banned across much of the nation—you might buy gift cards for your favorite restaurants. Restaurant owners are in dire need of cash flow. To be sure, restaurants may go out of business as a result of this tragedy, so keep that risk in mind.

4. Tip generously. If you’re one of the millions of American families choosing takeout, leave a hefty tip. Some restaurant staff have had their hours drastically cut back and may eventually find themselves out of work.

5. Donate time. Ask local charities what you can do to assist. Check the internet to see where help might be needed in your area.

6. Call loved ones. Better still, use FaceTime, Skype or some other service where you see each other. Do you have an elderly relative in a facility that isn’t allowing visitors? Get in touch—and try to talk about things other than COVID-19. It could do wonders for happiness on both sides of the screen.

7. Attend virtual gatherings. Thanks to technology, we don’t have to attend church physically to join a service. Many congregations are meeting virtually and thereby reaping the benefits of fellowship. This, too, could boost your spirits.

8. Be nice. Offer to pick up groceries for your neighbors. Smile at strangers. Share useful information. In the age of Twitter and Facebook, a lot of criticism and misinformation get thrown around. Try to be positive on social media and provide information that’s useful and uplifting. When you’re out and about, perhaps buying groceries or picking up dinner, look employees in the eye and say a heartfelt “thank you.”

Mike Zaccardi is a portfolio manager at an energy trading firm and a finance instructor at the University of North Florida. He also works as a consultant to financial advisors on an hourly basis, helping with portfolio analysis and financial planning. Mike is a Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Market Technician, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. His previous articles include Where’s My RefundScratching That Itch and Good as Gold. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeZaccardi, connect with him via LinkedIn and email him at MikeCZaccardi@gmail.com.

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