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Personal Finance During COVID-19

In just three weeks, 16 million Americans have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a scary time for Iowans suddenly out of work and struggling to pay bills. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by Iowa State University's Cindy Fletcher to answer questions about revising a budget, prioritizing bills, paying down debt and connecting Iowans with community resources to stretch reduced incomes. Also this hour, your COVID-19 medical questions answered from Dr. Dan Allen of UnityPoint Health in Des Moines.

Below are several of the personal finance and economic resources mentioned in this conversation that are available to Iowans.

ISU Extension - Iowa Concern

Iowa Concern

A source of help for Iowans in need, including legal, financial, stress and mental health needs.

Iowa Concern Hotline: 1-800-447-1985

Will my information be kept confidential? 

All personal information given to Iowa Concern, whether on the hotline or through e-mail or live chat, is kept confidential. If a client would like someone to advocate or make a call on their behalf, we (ISU extension) would need permission to do so.

What are your hours of operation?

All Iowa Concern services, the toll-free number, live chat and the website, are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

More links from Iowa Concern: 

Finding Answers Now: COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties

 Who’s Hiring?

As so many industries are being affected by COVID-19, some businesses are hiring.

  • Walmart announced that it will hire 150,000 workers for its distribution and fulfillment centers.

  • Amazon says it’s looking to hire 100,000 new workers for its fulfillment centers and delivery network.

  • CVS Health is hiring 50,000 employees to serve in various capacities across its business.

  • Dollar General says it's looking to add 50,000 employees by the end of April.

  • Pizza Hut is hiring 30,000 permanent employees to serve as drivers, shift leaders, cooks and managers.

  • Ace Hardware is hiring 30,000 people to work in its stores nationwide.

  • Lowe’s is hiring 30,000 employees to meet the demand created by the coronavirus.

  • Dollar Tree, which is also the parent company of Family Dollar, is hiring 25,000 workers for its stores and distribution centers.

  • Walgreens is hiring 25,000 employees for permanent and temporary roles.

  • Papa John's is hiring 20,000 workers to meet demand.

  • 7-Eleven is hiring up to 20,000 employees due to increased demand.

Webinar: CyberSecurity for Small Businesses

The current COVID-19 pandemic raises some significant issues and risks relating to cybersecurity and data privacy. Concerns range from cybercriminals targeting a newly-remote workforce with clever phishing scams to worries the crisis will give cover to expanded and potentially problematic uses of technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced small businesses to get creative with how to stay productive while also ensuring the safety of employees, families, and communities. Now that so many organizations have moved to remote working, it’s an excellent time to take a look at where their risks may lay. Join the webinar on Friday, April 17, 2020 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM to learn more. Register today HERE

Watch for Relief Check Scams

Authorities recently urged people to watch out for possible scams related to the federal government’s coronavirus assistance. As Congress is working out the details, these tips have been shared:

  • You don’t need to do anything to get your check.
  • Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your relief check.
  • To set up direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at
  • No one has early access to this money. Anyone who claims they do is a scammer.

To get official updates and more information, visit the IRS’s page on economic impact payments.


Cindy Fletcher, professor and extension specialist in human development and family studies at Iowa State University

Dr. Dan Allen, chief medical officer, UnityPoint Health

Chuck Nordyke, chief executive officer, Clarinda Regional Health Center

Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River