Your Health and Your Healthcare Remain a Priority:
During these uncertain times with COVID-19, you might be stressed about finances in addition to other things. It might even feel like your basic needs (your health, for instance) come second to everything else right now.
You are not alone if you are feeling on-edge and confused about what to do. However, remember that this is not a time to ignore your health:
- Nutritious food and exercise
- Mental health management
- Important medical appointments
- Supplements and medications
Some (maybe all) of the factors above may need to be modified during these times. For instance, if you have a medical appointment coming up, you may given the option to use telemedicine instead. Regardless, they all belong at the top of your priority list.
Financial Planning Tips for Uncertain Times:
Tips offered by: Lori Nadglowski, CFP®, MBA, President of Laurel Wealth Management
In normal circumstances, it is recommended that you develop an annual budget. However, since there may be many unknowns right now (when can I return to work? etc.), create a budget to address the next 60 days. Update each month so you always have a plan for the next 60 days.
How Do I Create a 60-day Budget?
Determine what your expected income is for the next 60 days. This includes income from your employer and income from Economic Impact Payment.
- Economic Impact Payments will begin in April. Eligibility is based on 2018 or 2019 tax return Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Individual filers with AGI up to $75,000 will receive a payment of $1,200. Married couples with AGI up to $150,000 will receive a payment of $2,400. Reduced benefits are available to filers with AGI up to $99,000 (single) and $198,000 (joint). Eligible taxpayers will also receive $500 for each qualifying child under 17. See IRS.Gov/coronavirus for complete details.
- Unemployment is paid under state rules, but has expanded to cover more workers including self-employed and independent contractors (ex: Uber drivers not typically covered). Contact your state for information on unemployment benefits.
Next, determine your other financial resources.
- Checking and Savings Accounts
- Investment Accounts
- Health Savings Accounts
- Retirement Accounts (IRA’s, 401K’s, 403b’s, etc.)
Now examine what expenses are due in the next 60 days. You will need to prioritize them.
- Needs: Rent, mortgage, childcare, food, phone, utilities, health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance
- Debt Payments: Credit cards, car loans, student loans
- Other non-essential expenses
Next, you’ll need to total your expected income and compare it to your needs.
- If you can cover your needs, continue to dept payments. Make minimum credit card payments and loan payments. Some lenders are allowing you to skip a payment; however, you may continue to accrue interest and the missed payments may be due at once. Ask your lender for full repayment terms prior to skipping a payment.
- If you can’t cover your needs, check other financial resources. Contact each lender and ask for assistance. Borrowers with Federal Student Loans can temporarily suspend payments without penalty until September 30. Special consideration should be given prior to using retirement savings for short-term needs. Although the CARES act waives the 10% penalty, the distribution will have to be repaid or taxes paid within 3 years.
Once these steps are completed, repeat this exercise each month to keep a 60-day budget.
The deadline to file and pay federal income taxes has been extended to July 15, 2020. Tax preparers are considered an essential business, so they continue to work through an emergency. If you would like to prepare yourself, the IRS offers free file online options at Irs.Gov based on your income.