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Empowering your money

'Bad with Money' podcast host Gaby Dunn: 'Do what you need to do to survive'

Along with teaching many Americans how to be better with their finances on her ‘Bad With Money’ podcast and book, Gaby Dunn is also trying to help people on Twitter who have suffered a financial hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

On April 12 she tweeted she can help 10 people who are in a difficult situation with “a few extra bucks,” and hundreds left their details under the post, explaining why they need money.

Many said they were laid off, couldn’t pay their bills, or were running out of money. Other benefactors quickly pitched in, raising additional money for Dunn’s giveaway.

“I wanted to give money directly to people who need it, without going through an organization,” Dunn told Cashay. “I can get 40 people's groceries with just $1,000 dollars in $25 increments.”

Dunn elaborated more on the giveaway to Cashay, and offered real-life advice on how to manage your finances during the pandemic.

Gaby Dunn
Photo: Courtesy of Gaby Dunn

Cashay: How can someone weather this financial storm if they expect they may get laid off soon?

Gaby Dunn: Lobby the government to provide better relief for people, which means voting and calling or emailing or tweeting your representatives. There are also now protections against eviction in place in many counties, so check if you have legal rights to rent strike or have a temporary hold on rent. There are also all kinds of different relief funds for different professions or types of people at this time, so look into those.

At this point, you can only maintain harm reduction, which means do what you need to do to survive and don't judge yourself for it.

Cashay: How should people approach their investments?

Gaby Dunn: I am personally dealing with a total drop in my stocks, and I just have to breathe and remember it's temporary. I haven't sold anything or pulled anything yet, because I think that's alarmist to do during an unprecedented situation, even though my instinct is to cash out and bury my money in a hole under a tree. I'd just view it as a temporary blip and don't make any huge decisions under duress.

Cashay: If someone was laid off and doesn't have an adequate emergency fund, what can they do?

Gaby Dunn: Like I said, apply for relief.

Get your neighbors together for a rent strike. My neighbors and I signed a letter, which we sent to our landlord asking for a discount on rent during this time.

Do not feel bad. Most landlords can afford it. In a pinch, I've sold stuff and/or freelanced online for places like Fiverr. Whatever you need to do, do not judge yourself during this time. Everyone is in survival mode.

Cashay: You've been doing a social media giveaway for those impacted financially. Why did you decide to do that?

Gaby Dunn: I wanted to give money directly to people who need it, without going through an organization. I understand it's risky because someone could be lying, but I vet as well as I can and it's been hugely impactful. I can get 40 people's groceries with just $1,000 in $25 increments, and to me, that feels more tangible.

Gaby Dunn

It's not just me. I've started accepting donations from benefactors, who want to remain anonymous, and then I facilitate the donation directly to a person. So far, other people have given me $5,000 in total and then I've given $3,000 of my own money. It's money I don't need. I make sure I have enough to live, and then right now, the extra is just sitting there. And I wanted to be able to help people from my couch, where I'm stuck feeling helpless.

Denitsa is a reporter for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.

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