How to survive without a paycheck during COVID-19 pandemic

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many have been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, especially those living without a paycheck.

The line outside a popup food pantry from the San Francisco Marin Food Bank at its peak stretched for four blocks.

Jaime Martinez says this is only the second time he has reached out to the Food Bank for help in his 70 years.

"Everything is so expensive," Martinez says. "Everything is going up and up and up and I'm sick and tired."

Martinez hasn't worked at his job as a security guard at the Chase Center since it closed due the pandemic in early March.

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"I applied for the EDD, the unemployment. I don't receive anything. Not even nothing. I waiting for the support for the $1,200 dollars. Nothing," he says.

Tina Marchetti, executive director of the Bay Area Financial Education Foundation, can't imagine what any of these people are facing, but says reaching out for help is a good first step.

"Yeah, it's tough times for everybody," Marchetti says.

"Using a budget is the most important thing," she stresses. "Minimizing your spending would be the second. Then being proactive about negotiating with creditors."

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Sites like Every Dollar offer free advice on sticking to a budget. Bank of America and Wells Fargo also offer free budgeting resources.

For more immediate needs, look for ways to minimize spending by throwing out less food.

"Fresh fruit can certainly be frozen," says Amy Keating, a nutritionist with Consumer Reports. "It'll be just as nutritious. You have to use them in different ways, like in a smoothie."

Avoid more expensive foods like meat and pork. "There are many other alternative sources of protein like tofu, chickpeas, lentils or quinoa, which is a grain source," says Keating.

Lower your credit card debt by transferring the balance to one with lower interest.

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"Maybe refinance or move to a balance transfer on a credit card where there's no interest for 20 months," suggested Marchetti.

Be creative. Martinez found a way to reduce his monthly rent by 800 dollars.

"Next month, I have to be moved to San Mateo County and Daly City for the seniors. I have to pay $400 or something like that for a little studio. It's the only way," he said.

Martinez adds he's grateful for everything he has and plans to volunteer at the Food Bank as a way to give back.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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