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As confirmed cases of coronavirus disease near the half a million mark worldwide, more governments are enforcing self-quarantine measures to ensure public health safety. And according to stats from Cornell University Law School: 37 million Americans in the United States are vulnerable to layoffs in the short term.
If you’re among the thousands of Americans who suddenly find themselves with extra time in their day due to new work from home policies (less commute time) or temporary leave, we came up with these 5 productive things you can do while in quarantine to help you keep your sanity.
1.) Learn about the stock market to be prepared
The past few weeks have either confirmed how much you know about the stock market or, if you’re like me, they’ve confirmed how much more there is to learn.
Market sell-offs create huge buying opportunities. A Motley Fool Stock Advisor membership provides you with the market research you need to navigate these difficult times. As a bonus, it’s currently free for 30-days and 50% off for a yearlong membership.
Once you figure out what to buy, you’ll need to figure out how to buy. In just a few years, Robinhood has become one of the largest stock trading apps in the country, offering commission-free trading and an easy way to start investing. They offer you the ability to start with as little as $1 and buy fractional shares, so if your favorite company’s stock is a little too expensive, you can still get involved.
2.) Make sure your credit report is in good shape
Have you recently paid off a loan? If so, check your credit report. A few years ago, I paid off my auto loan three months early and was feeling pretty good about myself. That is, until I got denied for a new credit card! Despite years of paying my bills on time, I was turned down because the report showed that I had an auto loan in default. It turns out that when I paid off my loan, the lender never reported it back to the credit bureau.
Don’t make the same mistake! There are sites that allow you to see a free copy of your credit report and services that help you monitor your credit in real-time. This will allow you to catch any errors before you go to apply for a loan or credit card. Spending a few minutes now to make sure that your credit report is in good shape could save you a ton of time down the road.
3.) Keep your mind busy by learning a new language
Learning a new language has been on my to-do list for years, and I’m finally checking it off. I want to be fully prepared once it’s safe to travel again, and to be honest, it’s not taking nearly as much time as I thought.
Babbel breaks lessons down into 10-15 minute sessions, which in turn allows you to work at your own pace. They are the #1 selling language learning app in the world, so they seem to know what they’re doing. Babbel is also giving 50% off subscriptions now. Give them a chance, and you’ll be speaking a new language before you know it!
4.) Use this time to compare prices on your home and car insurance
I'm guessing your homeowners insurance is just on auto payment and you don't pay much attention to your bill. If you haven’t compared rates in over a year, you’re probably overpaying.
Insurance companies know that people don’t like to reshop. In fact, they count on it, which is why these companies are more than happy to raise your rates every single year.
Young Alfred is part of a new crop of insurance startups that can do the heavy lifting for you. As an independent agency, they’re authorized to quote and sell insurance for dozens of different insurance companies. According to Young Alfred, the average household that buys insurance through them saves over $350 a year. They’ll also show you ‘bundled quotes,’ unlocking even more potential savings by allowing you to package your auto and home insurances into one policy.
“For most households, we can save them an additional 20-25% by bundling their home insurance with their car insurance. So I always recommend that our users at least check to see if that’s the case,” says Evan Pearson, Licensed Insurance Agent at Young Alfred.
If you don’t own a home, but are still looking to save some money, getting an updated car insurance quotes is a great way to find savings. Money's recent article The Best Auto Insurance for 2020 is a great place to find a few companies to get quotes from. Even if you don’t end up switching, it’s a good idea to see what you can save.
5.) File your taxes
President Trump recently announced that the deadline to file your taxes has been pushed to July 15th, but if you will be receiving a tax refund this year, you probably still want to get that filed as soon as possible.
If you’re sheltered in place, tax preparation software is the way to go. Most companies offer free online software, but charge extra for assistance. I learned the hard way that paying the extra fee can be worth it if you have a complicated filing (like getting a letter from your city saying that you owe them taxes from over 4 years ago...). You can always add on the assistance later if you need it, so start with the free version and see how far you get.
If you need some help in figuring out what company to use, check out Money’s Best Online Tax-Prep Software Providers for 2020.
You’ve earned it. Call that friend you’ve been wanting to video chat with for a while, relax with a glass of wine delivered to your door, read that book that you started over Christmas break and never finished, or spend time making a home-cooked meal (you don’t even need to go to the store if you use a meal delivery service like Factor or Sun Basket).