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There appears to be a pandemic generosity effect. In the last edition of this newsletter, I asked people who are financially secure in these uncertain times what ideas they had to help others who are struggling. A days-long cascade of helpful emails followed. Those with means are ready to help those in need, if they haven’t already done so.

These ideas are presented as a kind of brainstorm. If you’re in a position to help out, see if one or two points resonate with you. (Note: There was some overlap in the ideas. The most commonly suggested points are up top.)

  • Continue to pay your cleaning person, dog walker or nanny, even if they can’t come to your home.
  • Buy gift cards from your local businesses – yoga studio, esthetician, restaurants.
  • Support food banks.
  • Generously tip grocery and delivery people.
  • See if your adult children or grandchildren need financial help.
  • Send gift certificates to family members who need a financial lift.
  • Buy tickets to summer arts events to offer support.
  • Pick a charity to donate to or re-commit to your existing charities.
  • Help a high-school grad afford the cost of university or college – summer jobs may be scarce.
  • Press companies that are still open to set up a method for customers to offer direct cash support to front-line workers.
  • Buy a grocery gift card for someone who has lost their job.
  • File your taxes and pay what you owe right away to help keep revenues flowing into governments at time when they have stepped up spending to support the economy (the tax filing deadline has been moved up to June 1 from April 30).
  • Help local artists, musicians or a local theatre company.
  • Donate to a women’s shelter.
  • Prepay your next hair cut to help keep your local hair stylist in business.
  • Check with your employer to see if it offers matching donations to charities like food banks.
  • Tell laid-off family members you will stand by them with financial support.
  • Continue to pay fees for religious organizations, gyms etc., even if they’re closed.
  • Become a meals-on-wheels volunteer.
  • CEOs and upper management – take a pay cut.
  • Donate to a local hospital.
  • Donate to the humane society; don’t forget animals can be affected when their owners are in financial trouble.
  • Offer to mentor younger professionals, business owners and leaders.
  • Donate to a local organization like the Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund, which provides community support.
  • Landlords, consider halving your rent for the next two months.
  • Airbnb hosts, consider sharing your space to people in need through the Open Home Program.
  • Support the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which helps countries respond to the pandemic.

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Young gig workers: We want to hear from you

Are you a millennial freelance or contract worker who has been laid off because of COVID-19? We want to hear from you for a podcast we are working on. Send us an email.

Rob’s personal finance reading list…

How to apply for EI and other COVID-19 emergency government help

Information on the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB. Here’s a call for some help for renters experiencing financial hardship right now, and here are some thoughts on the virus’s impact on personal finance, retirement and small-business owners from a blog called The Blunt Bean Counter.

Life insurance and COVID-19

An online life-insurance marketplace says policies will pay out on deaths related to the coronavirus. It’s also noted here that life-insurance premiums have not risen to reflect the risk associated with COVID-19. Prices could rise later if insurers experience a steep increase in claims.

For those using loyalty points for gift cards

A couple of U.S. loyalty programs have removed the option to redeem points for gift cards; they’re trying to conserve cash as the economy slows down. As a result, RewardsCanada is urging people not to delay if they want to turn Canadian loyalty points into gift cards. Gift cards can help turn loyalty points into something your household can use right now.

Another consideration with loyalty programs is expiry dates. We’re doing far less spending these days, which means loyalty points could expire due to account inactivity. Here’s a list of expiry policies for 10 loyalty programs.

Tips for ordering takeout

Here’s a look at the ethical and practical aspects of ordering takeout safely, including “no-contact delivery.”

Ask Rob

Q: I recently transferred U.S. funds to a Tangerine Bank U.S.-dollar account and realized it is not covered by Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. Was this a bad idea?

A: Good news. CDIC coverage will include holdings in foreign currency accounts starting April 30. There isn’t additional coverage for up to $100,000 for these accounts. Instead, foreign-currency deposits held in eligible accounts will be combined with other deposits within the same deposit-insurance category. An example from CDIC: “So, for example, if a client holds funds in her own name in a CAD chequing account and in a USD savings account, these would be added together and CDIC would extend deposit insurance coverage up to a total of $100,000 CAD. CDIC would convert the amount in the foreign currency account to determine the amount protected.”

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

I promised to include this national directory of fee-for-service financial planners in the recent Carrick Talks Money call I did with Globe and Mail personal finance editor Roma Luciw on the topic of retirement planning in the current environment. Fee-for-service planners charge an hourly or flat rate for their advice and don’t sell investments.

Video of the week

Portfolio manager Ben Felix tells you how to keep your head down and stay invested through stock market crashes like we’ve seen lately.

What I’ve been writing about

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