Saving During Covid-19

By Katrina Esco
People’s Trust Federal Credit Union

About three weeks ago I attended a luncheon where financial expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox discussed financial planning. During her presentation she highlighted how few people are prepared for what she calls,“The Dreaded D’s” –death, divorce, disability, disease. Unfortunately, at the time, none of us knew how quickly we would be faced with the last one, disease. And none of us imagined we would be facing it in the form of a global pandemic. Yet, here we are.I acknowledge it’s late in the game to talk about preparing for an emergency. The emergency is now. While we look forward to the federal relief on its way, here’s what you can do today (and every month from here on):

1. Tally up your monthly expenses.

· How much is going out

· Where is it going

· What day is it due

Do this for next month. This month is already over.

The easiest way to do this is to keep it simple: list the essential and put the dollar amount next to it. List anything that is a priority for you and how much it will cost for the month. When you’re done, add the amounts together and circle your total.

2. Tally up your income.

· How much do you have right now

· How much is on the way (and from where)

· When is it coming

Do not freak out right now. You need your brain to get through this part. Add up your income then plug the numbers into the following equation:

Income – Expenses = Your Situation

If you have any money left after subtracting expenses from income, that’s great. You’re probably going to be ok. If you break even, start looking at what you can cut. Your priorities will change when you review your expenses and you may begin to see things you can skip for the month to free up cash.

If your expenses are greater than your income, here’s what to do:

1. Eliminate any expenses you can. Move payment dates. Negotiate reductions on fees and interest. Keep track of due dates and communicate with your creditors even if it’s to say nothing has changed.

2. Call your financial institution and see what options are available. In response to the pandemic, my company has made emergency resources available to our members including relief loans with no hard credit pull, skip a pay on auto loans, and no penalty on CD withdrawals. See if your financial institution offers similar aid.

3. Barring any major obstacles, find another revenue stream. Sell something. Provide remote services. Take on a part-time role with companies hiring through the pandemic. Don’t stop looking until you land something.

4. Lastly, imagine the worst-case scenario and make a plan for it. Be sure to ask for help.One significant benefit to evaluating your situation is the sense of control it brings. You’ll either realize things are not as overwhelming as they seemed, or you’ll discover a misstep quickly enough to prevent it or recover from it. This is a basic, but solid exercise that will get you through the next month. We’re not entirely past planning but we are past planning without acting. Once you take stock of your situation take the first step.Bio – Katrina Esco is an account executive on the business development team at People’s Trust Federal Credit Union. She partners with businesses to bring Financial Wellness at Work, a free benefits add-on designed to help employees achieve financial prosperity

How to Communicate Effectively During a Crisis

As the coronavirus crisis continues, the one certainty is that the situation changes daily. Your or organization may be grappling with the ongoing challenge of working with remote teams, servicing customers in new ways, and possibly even survival.  This is a time for businesses and organizations to level-up day-to-day communication with all stakeholders.

It is vital to provide clear, factual, and useful communication. If you are a business owner or leader, you must continue to communicate with your customers, employees, vendors, board members, investors, and others. Do you have a plan in place? Are you making adjustments based on these new conditions?

The messaging you were using a month, or even a week ago simply may not work today. You may need to update your messaging daily or weekly. You may have to change how you do business. Flexibility and honesty are your best tools.

Here are 6 tips to effective communication during a crisis:

Have situation awareness. Be aware of what’s happening in your community and keep up with the daily changes to health advisories and guidance from local officials. Be prepared for any scenario and create messaging for each outcome so you can instantly communicate with your stakeholders as your situation changes. Remain honest, factual, and calm, and check-in with your stakeholders regularly via phone.

Listen to your employees. They are anxious about their livelihoods. Prepare appropriate and clear messaging. Set up regular briefings via Zoom or send a daily email. Establish a regular schedule so your employees can hear from you firsthand how the company is operating. Allow them to ask questions and share their feelings. Remain honest, factual, and calm.

Don’t be tone-deaf. Make sure the tone of your message is appropriate. Now is not the time to push sales in every social media post. When talking about the coronavirus, stick to the facts, and be serious. It’s okay to offer some content that is lighthearted and encouraging but doesn’t forget people are getting sick and dying while others are deeply concerned about their future.

Provide information regularly. Keep stakeholders updated on developments that affect your company’s operations. Make sure your employees are prepared for all eventualities. Let your customers know you’re still in business, and if your products and services may be delayed. Setting expectations and avoiding surprises as much as possible will get you through the long haul and set you up to recover after the pandemic passes.

Offer resources. It is easy to hit information overload. And a lot of misinformation is circulating right now. You can help your stakeholders by providing them with accurate and timely information that comes from credible sources. Provide links to organization websites (local elected officials and health departments, the CDC, local news outlets, etc.) that will help them understand the virus, what’s happening in the community, how to manage stress, and more.

Be creative. Maybe your company can help the community. Do you have food to donate? Can you help with an existing initiative? How about other services? Lend your expertise to others. This is a good time to spread the word about your business in a positive manner, especially if you offer something to help people get through the next weeks or months.

Your leadership skills will be tested daily. Will you rise to the occasion? Using messaging that informs and is helpful will put you ahead of your competitors. How can you best serve your customers during this time? Understanding how to reach them and what message resonates with them will be key. Make adjustments as needed. Be responsible. 

Most importantly, be kind. We are all in this together and we will get through it.

Share your Business Ideas to Our Business Blog

Criteria for submitting a Business blog to the HWCOC Business Resources Blog Page

  1. Blog must be on a business subject and something every member could learn from and utilize in their business. EX. How to collect on invoice, How to deal with difficult customers, How to keep up with ever changing forms of media, the best marketing tools for every budget.
  2. Must be between 500-900 words
  3. Please use colloquial term, laymen terms
  4. Format your blog in a legible manner. Does your blog topic read better in paragraph form or breaking it down into bullets and numbers?
  5. If your blog is about tips, post no more than 10 tips at a time. EX. “10 online marketing tools you need when starting a business”


  • Talk about trends in business.
  • Pose a question.
  • Discuss future plans in your industry, give readers a sneak peak on what you’ll be doing in the coming year.
  • Review a book or piece of media, if you’ve read something that you think your consumers might like, give a write up.
  • Report on a conference you’ve attended.
  • Explain how you do it. Do you have a special way you make your product, handle returns or welcome new customers? Describe your process.
  • Talk about your blunders. “Success is you reaction to your failures, how have you succeeded?”.
  • Share your vision.
  • How did you get your idea?
  • A day in the life.
  • Mention a popular post, if you notice a post by a popular blogger in your niche getting a lot of attention, add your viewpoint and link to the original post.
  • Answer questions anyone is asking.

How to submit your blog

All blogs will be reviewed for approval prior to being posted.
Selected blogs will be posted on the 3rd week of the month to the hwcoc website and a link will be placed on all applicable media.
Blogs must be received by the 2nd week of the month to

HWCOC Blog Posts

How to Plan a Ribbon Cutting

When to Have One

Almost every occasion is appropriate for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. You do not need to have something new and BIG to show off. A brand new business, new digs, a big remodel to accommodate growth are great reasons to celebrate. But you can also celebrate your company’s birthday, the launch of the new services you’ll be offering or another year with the Chamber. When you want to draw attention in a big way, a ribbon-cutting ceremony makes a big splash without having to spend a huge amount of money.

Choose Your Date and Time

Give yourself a month to plan the ceremony and to get on the calendars of the people you want to attend. If your new space is still being finished, wait until you’re certain when the new space really will be finished before you plan your ribbon cutting. Don’t take the contractor’s word for it. Many things are out of his control, including when his vendors will actually deliver.

Check with HWCOC team and with any officials you want to attend before finalizing the date. Having them in attendance makes your business and your news look more important. Make sure there’s nothing else going on that day in the neighborhood because that could pull attendees away from your event or it could take up all the parking spaces so people can’t get to your event.

Ask our team what time we recommend, we do this often and see what has proven to be successful. Don’t hold the ceremony too late in the day. An hour before noon or an hour prior to the end of the business day will allow people to take a longer lunch. At 4-4:30 p.m., many business folks will be able to break away, attend your ceremony, and can also try to get home early.

Spread the Word

We always invite our Ambassadors to attend the ribbon cuttings, alert our membership via email and encourage new members to attend. However, if you are trying to spread the word about your business, go beyond this. Make a list of everyone you would like to attend. Follow up with emails to your friends and close business associates. Tell them to spread the word, too. Attend Chamber events and personally invite members you meet to attend. Post the event on social media, and, as the event draws closer, keep updating the page. Change your posts to make them interesting and to keep people coming back. Announce your social media presence in your company newsletter and emails.

Prepare Invitations and Flyers

For your invitations and flyers, you’ll need the following information:

  • WHO: Your company name
  • WHAT/WHY: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for our ____(new building, new location, etc.)
  • WHEN: Day of the week, date and time (i.e. Thursday, July 19, 20__)
  • WHERE: Address for the event
  • R.S.V.P. : Phone number (and name if needed i.e. “Call Marion at (xxx) xxx-xxxx ext. X”)
  • Refreshments will be served

People who are on the fence about coming or who have multiple invitations for the same time, will often come to yours — if you’re serving food. If you’re having the event catered, note on the invitation something which indicates that food better than potato chips and punch will be served. For example, you can write: “Assorted appetizers from Le Chef will be served.”

Plan the Ceremony

Make a checklist of what you want to happen at your ceremony:

  • Emcee/Host – Someone from your company or a local “celebrity”? Emcee introduces speakers and keeps event moving
  • Speakers – Who will talk about your news, give a brief synopsis and thanks? Maximum of 2 speakers, 1-2 minutes each
  • Ribbon Cutter/Holders – Should be owners, partner, etc., flanked by chamber of commerce dignitary and other VIPs, perhaps family
  • Entertainment/Demo/Guides – Music, demo of a new product? People stationed in each room to explain what’s new?
  • Food – Choose and book the caterer. Food should be simple and easy to eat. Don’t forget utensils, plates, cups & ice.
  • Photographer – Hire your own photographer so that you’re not dependent on the media.

Please reach out to our team if you have any questions. We want your ribbon cutting ceremony to be a success!