How Will Coronavirus Affect Your Finances?

The coronavirus is affecting nearly every aspect of American life, from the way we work to the way we socialize. Finances have especially been shaken up.

It’s easy to feel that things are out of control, especially if you have been recently laid off or are losing income. Even though it may be some time before things get back to normal, there are things you can do now to take control of your finances. Resources exist. While they may not fix everything, they can help.

Apply for the Benefits You Need as Soon as Possible

The federal government has initiated many benefits for people affected financially by the pandemic. One of the most well-known ways is by sending out stimulus checks. Here are some ways to take advantage of these benefits:

Step 1: Collect Your Documents

You will need to have all your personal information and finance documents in order before you can apply for any type of aid. The specific things you will need will vary according to which benefit program you are applying to, but most likely you will need your most recent tax documents, social security number, employer information, income history, and identification.

Step 2: File Your Taxes and Receive a Refund

If you haven’t already, file your 2019 taxes. You could qualify for a tax refund. Plus, it will help to have a 2019 or 2018 tax return to get a stimulus payment. Once exception is if you had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 in 2019 – in which case you could send in your information to the IRS directly. Here’s more on why you may not have gotten your check yet and what to do.

Step 3: Receive Your Stimulus Paycheck If You Qualify

You qualify for the federal stimulus payment if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, have a Social Security Number (SSN), and if your income is below a set amount. 

If you are a recipient of Social Security, disability, or any other government benefits, including survivor or veteran, you also qualify for a stimulus check. You don’t need to do anything to receive your check. It will be mailed to the address you’ve provided on your most recent tax form or deposited directly into your bank account if you’ve received your most recent tax refund that way. Here’s more on why you may not have gotten your check yet and what to do.

Step 4: Apply for government benefits

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you can qualify for unemployment benefits as well as a host of other government benefits and loans. Make sure to check with your state’s website about all the benefits being offered at the federal and local levels.

Salary and Benefits 

The federal and state governments have a host of benefits available to people who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the pandemic. While a stimulus check and tax refund may help with immediate needs, you’ll want to make sure to check up on other benefits you qualify for. Also, it’s a good idea to check with your employer to see if they are offering any benefits to employees that have recently been let go.

Paying Bills and Debt

Keeping up on bills and paying off debt may seem daunting at this time. But there are some things you can do to ease the burden. The first thing you’ll want to do is organize your expenses. Make a list of your bills by order of their priority – rent, mortgage payments, car payments, food and utilities should come first. Try eliminating anything that is not a priority.

If you need additional help paying off your bills, you could contact your landlord or mortgage/utility provider to negotiate leniency at this time. Read our articles on mortgage relief and student loan relief.

You can also try to negotiate with your creditors about a lower rate or pushing back payments. Many people are eligible to defer payments for months at a time because of the ongoing situation. 

Just remember that you will need to pay back the money you owe eventually. You should only make these arrangements if it is absolutely necessary.

Your Savings

Thoroughly investigating and applying to all the benefits you qualify for will help you avoid dipping into your savings. You should only tap into your savings as a last resort. If you have had to take money from your savings to hold you over a few weeks, make sure to use your tax refund and stimulus check them to replenish the account when the funds become available. 

Investments

The market has taken a hit during this time and it’s likely that uncertainty will continue to drive volatility. If you’ve suffered a loss on your investments, remember not to panic. Probably worst thing you can do is sell your investments at a low valuation, because they will eventually rebound. Hold onto your investments and continue to add money into your investment accounts if you are able to.

Times Are Uncertain, But Resources Are Available 

From government benefits to delayed payments, remember that resources are available to help you pull through these uncertain times. It’s important to stay informed about the benefits you are eligible for and remain calm in the meantime. There’s been an increase in scammers and predatory lenders popping up to prey on people nervous or desperate about their finances.

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