Your money and the re-opening of the economy

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As COVID-19 regulations ease up and bubbles continue to expand, Atlantic Canadians are slowly starting to find their new “norm” during this unprecedented time. As some return to work, whether full-or part-time, others are still facing restricted incomes for the foreseeable future. We talked with East Coast Credit Union CEO Ken Shea about what the re-opening of the economy can mean for Atlantic Canadians and their different financial situations, like staying on budget while still supporting local shops.

If you can support local…

According to the Atlantic Canadian Opportunity Council (ACOA), small businesses make up most Canadian businesses, with about 70% of citizens relying on them for employment. In fact, between all four Atlantic provinces, small businesses employ over 500,000 jobs. While most businesses are experiencing lower than average foot traffic, some have made it easy to safely and conveniently shop their products and services from a distance. Ken recommends supporting local by getting takeout from your favourite restaurant, using curbside pick-up at your local retailers, or planning a staycation for summer to invest in your local tourism industry.

Keep in mind, when you invest locally, more of your money stays in the local economy than when spent at a large retailer (45 cents vs 14 cents). This means your money not only supports the businesses you buy from, but public programs like healthcare, education, and community development—that’s an investment you can feel good about.

Credit unions know that small businesses are the backbone of our local communities and supporting them has always been one of our key pillars. “We need to show support for our community. We will make it through this- we’re all in this together” says Ken Shea.

If your income is restricted…

Although some Atlantic Canadians may feel like shopping local is too expensive, this myth can be busted by doing a bit of research before you hit up your grocery store.

Some larger retailers have a select few products with prices below industry average, while the rest of their offerings are priced at a premium. While you may save a few dollars on soap or toothpaste, you’re probably spending more in the end than if you picked some of your groceries from a local retailer.

“While the market may be sluggish now, businesses will eventually bounce back. In the meantime, those with restricted incomes can explore other employment options, such as a side hustle or freelancing your skills,” Ken recommends.

Keeping in touch with your network is a great way to ride out the stagnate job market and it may turn into a permanent position once they’re ready to hire! You could also try exploring businesses that may have seen an uptake in their business or need extra hands to manage regulations, such as grocery stores, day-cares, and drugstores. And make sure your resume is up-to-date and employers can easily find you on LinkedIn or Kijiji.

If you’re a small business owner…

Small businesses may be opening back up, but they’re also tasked with a long list of health regulations to comply with to keep their staff and customers safe. If you’re struggling to keep up with the changes, consider reaching out to other local businesses to go splits on large orders of cleaning supplies or masks, implement or strengthen your delivery systems, or reach out to your local credit union to get some honest financial advice. Ken shares that small business owners can also reach out to their local Chamber of Commerce and law firms to better understand their rights as a business owner, as well as which government relief programs are available to them.

Ken says, “Now is also a great time for businesses to consider which protocols and regulations will be in place for the long run, versus which will be deemed unnecessary. This will allow you to better plan the long-term future of your business, even after COVID-19 is over.”

Need a bit more help? Reach out to your local credit union to chat about your small business or personal finances.