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6 tips if you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19

May 07, 2020

Money Sense

Martha Harbell

woman looking thoughtfully out her window

Losing your job, or part of your income, is always stressful. Now, with COVID-19 leading to many job losses and causing uncertainty in the market, your situation is likely even more stressful. Take a deep breath. You have options, and we can help. Here are 6 great tips to get you started.

Check if you’re eligible for programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

To help Canadians deal with the financial impacts of COVID-19, the federal government created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The benefit is available to all Canadian workers, regardless of whether or not they are eligible for employment insurance (EI) payments. This is particularly helpful to self-employed and freelance workers, who often don’t qualify for EI. You could receive up to $2,000 per month for up to four months. Check if you qualify for CERB.

You should also look into other government relief programs that might help you out right now:

  • Canada Child Benefit (CCB): A one-time increase to the May 2020 CCB payment for the 2019 to 2020 benefit year (July 2019 to June 2020).
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): Financial support for post-secondary students and recent graduates during COVID-19.
  • Support for Families (Ontario): Financial support for Ontario families with children who are not in school or childcare because of COVID-19.

Explore payment deferral options

It can be hard to keep up with payments and bills when you lose your job or part of your income. You don’t want to make late payments or miss payments entirely because it can have a negative impact on your credit score. Luckily, you have several good options.

Mortgage and loan payments

Deferring a mortgage or loan or payment can help you get through a rough patch. With Meridian’s skip-a-payment feature you can put off a payment until later, and you don’t have to pay interest-on-interest. Learn more about how it works

Credit card payments

If your credit card account is currently in good standing, and you can’t make your minimum monthly payment you have the option to defer it. Note: The interest on your balance continues to accrue (and credit card interest rates tend be he high) and it will be added to the charges of your outstanding balance. Learn more about credit card support


If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19 and you can’t make your rent, talk to your landlord. Everyone knows that this is a difficult time, and your landlord might be open to partial payments, or a payment plan. You won’t know unless you communicate.

Consider consolidating your debt

Debt consolidation helps you manage your debt, especially during a time of crisis. You take out one low-interest loan or line of credit and use it to pay off higher-interest debts. For example, credit cards have very high interest rates, so if you pay off those balances with a low-interest loan you could end up saving a lot of money. Check out Meridian’s loans and lines of credit.

There are a few things to consider before you consolidate debt:

  • Do the math. How long will it take you to pay off your current debt and how much will it cost? How would that compare to a new loan or line of credit? Calculate how much you would pay with a Meridian loan or line of credit.
  • If the payment schedule on a new loan or line of credit is long, you could end up paying the same amount of interest, just over a longer period of time.
  • It’s possible that combining loans into a brand new one could negatively impact your credit score.

Wondering if this is best choice for you? Talk to a Meridian advisor

Rethink your budget

If you haven’t taken good look at your budget recently, do it now. Beyond your necessary expenses, like your rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries and insurance, how are you spending your money right now? Here are a few tips for cutting back:

  • Make sure you’re not paying for services that you can’t use while social distancing is in effect – put your gym membership on hold, for example.
  • Cook for yourself instead of ordering in – you have some free time to master a few culinary skills, after all.
  • Resist online shopping – those purchases add up fast and they’re not often necessities.
  • Improvise – do you need to order a set of weights online, or can you use heavy objects you already have at home?
  • Take an inventory of your subscriptions, like Netflix and Spotify – which ones do you actually use, and which ones can you cut?

Take care of yourself

This is a stressful, worrisome time for everyone, and losing your job can make that worse. Follow the same advice that mental health professionals are giving everyone right now – connect. Reach out to your friends, family, and neighbours. Share the experience of losing your job and worrying about money – these are not things to be ashamed of, and you are not alone. When you open up to others, you’ll likely find that not only are they dealing with their own struggles right now, but they might also have some helpful ideas for you.

Talk to an advisor

We can help you make a plan to manage your finances – from navigating government programs, deciding on payment deferrals, exploring debt consolidation, and more. You’re not alone – talk to an advisor now.

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