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Although most of us find the new norm of practicing social distancing and staying at home challenging, there are a number of budget-friendly ways you can maintain connections with friends, loved ones and your community. Here are some ideas to try.

  1. Video chat with relatives and friends.

    Ask any grandparent, servicemember or college student, and they’ll tell you modern technology—such as FaceTime®WhatsApp® or Skype®—helps families stay in touch through smartphones and computers. Talking to your loved ones and seeing their faces is the best thing about social media apps. Web conference software, like Zoom™, also lets you interact with larger groups for activities such as virtual play dates and game nights.

  2. Write a letter (or two) to the troops.

    Nothing beats receiving a good old-fashioned letter in the mailbox. This is especially true for those serving in the military. If you personally know a servicemember, consider writing a letter of thanks noting how that person has made a difference in your life. Or, you could write a letter to a servicemember you don’t know and who may not have family. Visit Support Our Troops® or other similar websites to get connected with a servicemember. Need subject ideas? You can share upbeat messages, talk about music, sports, movies or your day-to-day activities.

  3. Support your local businesses.

    With many service businesses forced to shut down or operating under limited conditions (for example, take-out only versus dining in for restaurants), your community’s local economy probably could use a boost, especially small businesses. Consider using some of the money you’re saving on commuting costs to support service providers you can’t use right now (e.g., child care, hair stylist, cleaning service). A Visa® or similar gift card they can use anywhere is especially useful, or you could buy gift cards from local businesses to use online or at a later date.

  4. Be a good neighbor.

    Consider checking in on your neighbors to see how they’re doing or if they need any assistance. For example, you could offer to grocery shop for at-risk neighbors before making a trip to the store or add their grocery order to your next curb-side or grocery delivery.

  5. Make a community food, blood or monetary donation.

    Now is the perfect time to donate to your local food shelf, blood bank, hospital or healthcare system. All have had increased demand for their services and, as a result, need more funding for staffing, supply and equipment needs.

    Call first about donating food or blood, and check the organizations’ websites for ways to contribute funds online. You may be able to use the donation as a tax deduction. Talk to your tax advisor.

We care about our community, too!

We understand that the things most important to you during these uncertain times are help, guidance and the ability to find the information you need. Navy Federal has financial options in place to help our members. If you experience a financial setback during the coronavirus outbreak, rest assured Navy Federal Credit Union is here to help.

FaceTime is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

WhatsApp is a registered trademark of WhatsApp, Inc.

Skype is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.