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Financial considerations for the coronavirus and other emergencies

At Commerce Bank, we understand many of our customers have concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. As always, taking care of our customers and team members is our top priority, and we have comprehensive plans in place that will be followed, along with recommendations from the CDC.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some recommendations to help you keep your financial life on track through the weeks ahead. While it’s hard to know how much the virus may impact the economy or disrupt everyday life, there are a few things you can do to be prepared, just in case—like you should for any emergency.

Use digital services. If you aren’t already using digital services for your banking needs, now is a good time to start. Many banks, including Commerce, offer mobile apps and online services that allow you to pay bills, deposit checks, transfer money and more, all from the comfort of your couch. Using these kinds of services may come in handy if you want to minimize your exposure to others, or if you become sick.

If you do have to visit a branch, consider using the drive-thru or ATM instead of going inside to the counter. Doing so can limit your contact with others if the virus is spreading in your area.

Use contactless payments. Many retail locations have systems that allow you pay with the digital wallet on your smartphone or a contactless credit card. If you’ve never used a form of contactless payment, or simply forget about it, this is a good time to use it. With contactless payments, you’re less likely to be required to touch a checkout terminal that dozens of others have used that same day—and it’s faster and very convenient as well.

Remember your investment strategy. It’s not uncommon for the market to be volatile during times of uncertainty, but investors who have a thoughtful, forward-looking plan in place should view these global events in the context of their own personal goals, rather than getting drawn into breaking news coverage or social media posts. Our team of investment advisors at the Commerce Trust Company have been closely monitoring the situation. For their latest insights, visit their site.

If you’re worried, talk to your financial advisor and ask questions. They will understand your goals and will help you make decisions accordingly. If you don’t have a financial advisor, we are willing to help. In the meantime, try to avoid becoming overly drawn into the daily headlines.

Think about your emergency cash reserves. A prolonged disruption of day-to-day life might strain your finances, especially if it impacts your income. Employees may see their hours reduced in the wake of emptier-than-usual stores and restaurants, gig-economy workers might see assignments dry up, or an extended illness might result in unpaid days off. Times like these, as with any potential emergency or natural disaster, are the reason it’s important to have some emergency cash in a savings or money market account. If you don’t have money already set aside, just keep in mind that it’s never too late to start, and every little bit helps. If you’re able to set money aside each month, you’ll be that much more prepared for future periods of unpredictability.

Make a plan. Being prepared allows you to maintain normalcy in your daily life if there’s some disruption, and can also help make sure your priorities are taken care of.

If you have young kids, develop a backup plan in place in case their school closes. Make sure you have some cash on hand; a minimum of $100 is a reasonable amount. If you take responsibility for paying household bills, make sure someone you trust – your spouse or partner, for example – knows how to take over in case you get sick and are in bed for a few days.

In stressful circumstances, having a plan for how you’ll react can be reassuring. Talking with the people you care about, as well as your banking advisor can also help you feel more confident. If you’d like more resources to help you plan for emergencies of all types, visit ready.gov.

Commerce takes this issue very seriously. We remain vigilant in our monitoring of the situation as it develops and follow the direction of the CDC. The health and safety of our employees and customers is of utmost priority. We have comprehensive plans in place which will be followed, along with recommendations from the CDC, as the situation warrants.

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