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Coronavirus: New website offers Floridians financial advice

Experts say it’s a good idea to set aside a six-month emergency fund

Money (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Three in four Floridians say they’re feeling more financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent survey found.

Now credit unions, banks and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have teamed up to launch a new resource to help residents navigate these turbulent times.

While most Floridians are feeling more financial strain from the pandemic, nearly half say they’re feeling significantly more. “Job uncertainty has kicked in,” Patronis said.

Patronis is touting the launch of MoneyWiseFlorida.com, which he described as a “roadmap” to help people dealing with financial woes as a result of the public health emergency.

The site offers financial resources and advice, much of which is geared towards pandemic relief.

“Getting their PPP loans if they need them or want them. Helping them get other products like the economic impact disaster loans,” said Anthony DiMarco with the Florida Bankers Association.

Suncoast Credit Union CEO Kevin Johnson said learning how to create a six-month emergency fund is key in these times. It’s also something only three in 10 Floridians had going into the pandemic.

“That number is much higher if you look at the younger generation and minorities,” Johnson said. “And that’s where this information that we’re producing will really help. It’s to be able to help them navigate through this, help them budget their money better.”

The experts we spoke with said the best advice they had to give was to live within your means.

“If you're racking up a lot of credit card debt, then you're probably buying things that you don't absolutely need or that you can find less expensive somewhere,” said Johnson.

But if you are doing well right now, you might want to consider making that big purchase.

“With the rates where they are, mortgage rates and the ability to get financing for homes and cars, now is a good time,” said Jared Ross, president of the Florida Credit Union Association.

Patronis noted that scammers are running rampant right now, so it’s important to remember that the federal or state government will never contact you directly offering money.

To report a suspected scam, you can go to FraudFreeFlorida.com. To access the new financial web resource, go to MoneyWiseFlorida.com.