Smart Ways to Stretch Your Budget Now

Use these resources to save on the things you need to buy, manage your monthly bills or even apply for emergency funds.

Overhead of person sitting at desk with laptop computer, papers, mobile phone

by NEA Member Benefits

As COVID-19 changes our lives in the near-term, you’ve probably been focused a lot on helping your students navigate this tumultuous time. NEA’s new resource page has some great tips to help you work remotely.

NEA Member Benefits is here to help you with your own personal-finance concerns as you face pressing needs as well as uncertainty in the future.

We’ve been hearing from members about what you need most right now. For example, amid the upheaval of school closings, many teachers are looking for discounts on laptops and tips on what equipment to buy because they’re focused on making sure they can connect effectively with their students. Members also want to find ways to cut back on expenses to make monthly bills more manageable.

To help, we’ve rounded up some ways you can stretch your dollar manage your expenses and meet emergency needs as you adjust to remote teaching, possible reduced household income and other coronavirus-related changes.

Stretch your dollar on the things you need most now

Home-office supplies: Members are seeking out deals on laptops, paper, printer ink, ergonomic furniture and more. You can quickly turn your home base into a high-functioning work zone with discounts and cash-back offers through the NEA Discount Marketplace shopping portal. 

And if you don’t already have a Costco membership, you can sign up now, get coupons, and shop online for deals on electronics and furniture.

Meals: To dine out on a dime, check out to see any of your local restaurants participate and are offering delivery or curbside pickup so you can take a break from preparing meals yourself.  Then take advantage of deals and earn cash back through the NEA Discount Marketplace.

Personal care: Shop for essentials and earn cash back through the NEA Discount Marketplace.

The deals through these discount shopping programs change often, so check back regularly to see what’s new. And as you turn more to shopping online now, make sure you’re doing it smartly and safely.

Manage your expenses now with these resources

Partner assistance: First, if you are currently participating in any of our NEA member benefits programs, check our Member Assistance Program page to see if any help is available to relieve your bills due to hardships caused by coronavirus shutdowns.

Student loan debt: Many NEA members have student loan debt, and our partners at Savi recently updated the NEA Student Debt Navigator to help members determine whether COVID-19 has affected their debt obligation.

The government is temporarily waiving federal student loan debt interest. If you’ve lost your job or had hours cut, you might be eligible for a reduced monthly payment (as low as $0 per month) through a Federal Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan. Check your options now.

Even if you don’t qualify for immediate relief due to coronavirus, you still might be able to reduce your monthly payments or even discover that you’re eligible for forgiveness. Take some time to look into your student loan debt reduction/forgiveness options by entering your information into the Navigator calculator.

Debt consolidation: You might be able to get better interest rates and lower monthly payments than what you have now by consolidating consumer debt and refinancing your private student loans. Run your personal loan debt through our consolidation calculator. Note that student loans can’t be consolidated. Also, be sure to check the NEA Student Debt Navigator before you refinance to make sure you don’t accidentally forfeit any forgiveness you may qualify for.

Earn interest: Make your savings work harder by parking your money in an account that can earn interest while keeping your funds accessible.

Reducing monthly expenses: Some online research and a few phone calls often can help you reduce your bills. You can ask your existing providers if they’ll work with you to lower your rates, or you may find a better deal by switching companies or finding suitable alternatives (like switching to a streaming video service). And as the weather warms up, you can try some tricks to help reduce your cooling costs.

Track your expenses: Getting a handle on what you’re spending and what you owe is really important right now. It’s worth taking a bit of time now to go through these 6 steps (you can use our free worksheet too) to help you evaluate your budget so you can look for areas in which to cut back, and also anticipate and meet your financial obligations.

Access emergency funds

Your emergency savings fund and your credit card are probably the first places you turn to in a financial crisis. But if you find yourself in a bind—maybe your two-income household has recently dropped to one—and you need a loan to stay afloat and pay your bills, then see if the NEA Personal Loan® may be a good solution for you. You’ll find competitive rates, plus NEA members get an additional rate discount upon enrolling in autopay.

We’re here to help

We know that NEA members everywhere are adapting to extraordinary circumstances at work and at home. We remain committed to serving you, especially as you’re dealing with financial concerns now and in the long-term.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our Member Advocacy Center if you need help. You can call (800) 637-4636 or email at with questions about our products or services.

These benefits can help you meet your needs now