The economic fallout and reverberations from the Coronavirus will take quite some time, and no prognosticator can say with 100 percent accuracy when the carnage will end, and full extent of its implications financially. Thankfully, there are important measures you can take for what I call “Financial Urgent Care” to help save and protect your money in the short term. Think of this as your economic survival kit.
To that end, The Money Protector team has put together this top ten list. These are tips and guidance you can use in the coming weeks to help financially. This is not a magic bullet, and varies from person to person depending on your income and assets, but it’s a good start.
In some cases, it may be prudent and advisable for you to defer and delay certain payments to stem the losses of your income currently. Also, many of these items below are predicated upon the Congressional approval of the current $2 trillion stimulus package.
Money Protector Top Ten List
- CHECK’S IN THE MAIL: All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) would get a $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) “rebate” payment. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. The payments would start phasing out for earners above those income thresholds and would not go to single filers earning more than $99,000; head-of-household filers with one child, more than $146,500; and more than $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
- UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: If you live in California, you may not have to lose your job to qualify. If you are currently quarantined or furloughed, you might be able to obtain unemployment benefits.
- PAID LEAVE: The congressional relief package gives some workers paid leave, but there are many exceptions.
- STUDENT LOANS: You can pause them, but its not automatic. Call your loan servicer to be certain.
- LOANS: The current stimulus bill helps businesses keep workers employed, offering larger benefits for people who lose their jobs, and extra cash to help individuals who may still be working but have lost hours or income.
- REFINANCE MORTGAGE/CAR: Rates are great right now to refinance your home and potentially save several hundred dollars or on your monthly mortgage. Many people are not aware that they can also refinance their car loan, if they have one.
- EARLY ACCESS TO RETIREMENT FUNDS in the stimulus package. This is a critically important area. The current Congressional stimulus package includes a hardship withdrawal of up to $100,000 from your 401(k) retirement plan. You would be able to make the withdrawal without the 10% penalty that normally applies to those who are under age 59½. You’d still be on the hook for any income taxes on the amount. However, the measure would give you three years to pay those taxes and replace the money you took out.
- TAXES: The IRS is offering a 3 month extensions for all U.S. taxpayers to file their federal income taxes. You will now have until July 15th to file.
- Some utility companies are offering to stop cutting people off for non payment. Check with your utility company to find out what they offer if you are in dire straights financially and cannot pay your bill. As many of you know, most of our local utilities offer some kind of payment plans if you cannot afford your bill.
- HEALTH INSURANCE: Many people who have lost their jobs can get subsidized health insurance in the state of California. Be sure to look into this further with your health care provider and or employer to make sure your health insurance is in effect and up to date.
The Money Protector will provide updates each week during the economic crisis to help our citizens here in the Coachella Valley. We are all in this together, and there is a light at the end of the financial tunnel. So stay strong…and healthy!
La Quinta resident, Dan Mechem, is CEO of The Money Protector. Mechem is former Press Secretary for John McCain, Emmy award-winning Fox Reporter and White House Correspondent