With the current coronavirus pandemic disrupting jobs, lives and business as usual, financial worries have undoubtedly become even more pronounced. Approaching financial decisions armed with the right mix of knowledge and purpose can help calm your worries and give you a sense of control.
Here are a few ways you can achieve that balance in your own financial life.
Stay healthy, stay safe
Yes, we know that’s not financial advice, but we put health—our own and that of our loved ones—above everything else. When you’re safe and healthy in the midst of this pandemic, you’re helping both yourself and the communities around you. Bookmark this CDC resources page to learn more about keeping yourself safe, recognizing symptoms and more.
Don’t overlook new coronavirus-related financial support
Support from the government: In addition to various plans floated by individual states in response to the coronavirus outbreaks, the federal government has taken action in various ways:
Tax payments deferred. The IRS has extended the last date for paying any outstanding federal income taxes normally due April 15, until July 15, 2020. The last date for filing your taxes has also been pushed back to July 15 unless you request additional time to file. However, if your situation allows, try to file your taxes on time. This is especially true if you’re eligible for a refund—it may help you with a chunk of cash that can help tide you over these difficult times.
Emergency paid leave. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18, 2020 allows for up to two weeks of paid sick leave for certain full time workers affected by the coronavirus. Part-time workers get a pro-rated amount of leave based on their regular hours over a two-week period.
Expanded unemployment insurance benefits. If you are temporarily out of a job due to the COVID-19 crisis or are forced to take time off due to a quarantine order or care for an affected family member, you may be eligible to received unemployment insurance benefits. For more information regarding the rules in your state, contact your state’s unemployment insurance program.
The landmark CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020 offers a $2 trillion economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to the measures listed above. Check back for what the Act offers and how it can impact your finances.
Support from corporations. From banks and credit card companies to energy and utility companies, Corporate America is stepping up across the board with special programs that allow people to defer their monthly payments or pay a reduced minimum amount during this time. Check out your individual providers’ websites to see what payment assistance may be available to you to relieve some pressure off your finances.
Re-evaluate your priorities and act accordingly
A crisis has a way of putting things into perspective. Use this time to figure out what is most important to you and let these priorities guide your financial decision making.
Articulating your financial goals, even just to yourself, can help you create a blueprint for your everyday expenses to ensure that you live within your means in these trying times. You can read more about the resources available to help you build a budget from scratch here.
Keep your debt under control
A good rule of thumb to follow in these financially uncertain times is to maintain or enhance cash reserves to keep you afloat. Actively try to live within your means to relieve some pressure off your day-to-day budget. Additionally, try to avoid taking on any new debt at this time, if you can help it.
While this can be tough, given possible gaps in regular income at this time, use any leftover cash flow towards making additional payments on your existing debts. One of the fallouts of the current crisis is that interest rates have been dropping. If you have debts at high rates of interest, this may be the perfect time to refinance them at lower rates.
Relook at your investments
The coronavirus crisis has precipitated one of the sharpest falls in U.S. stock markets in recent times. A dip in the markets means your investments have probably seen losses as well. Though this temporary downturn can be the cause of much anxiety, take this as an opportunity to evaluate your portfolio and understand how much investment risk is right for your situation. If you have Ayco as a benefit, you can access a risk assessment to help you plan your investments and be confident in your choices.
Save, if you can
It may seem paradoxical to say you should save in times when regular income is uncertain. However, it’s equally critical to get into that saving mindset precisely because the future is so ambiguous. From making small changes to your lifestyle to save a few dollars, to going traditional and putting loose change from your pockets into a piggy bank, every little bit helps.
Higher yielding savings accounts are a great way to build up your emergency fund. The higher interest rates and ease of access (typically online) help make your money work harder for you and build a bigger reserve for the future.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help
With so many things to consider simultaneously, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But that’s exactly why we’re here. Ayco is standing by to guide you through this period of transition. If you have access to Ayco through your company benefits, check out our Learning Center on the digital platform for a wealth of resources to help you manage your finances independently, at your own pace.
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