It’s clear the pandemic has drastically changed the lives of everyone around the world for the past 3 months. By now, we are all understandably anxious to get on with things and while it can be tempting to rush back to “business as usual” as restrictions start to lighten up, it’s important to ease back into things slowly to mitigate risks and remain safe. It’s also the right time to get a good handle on your finances. Here are some things you should know as businesses start to open:
Going back to work
If your office is opening and requires you to go back to work, try to avoid taking public transportation and opt to drive, walk or bike to work instead. If that’s not possible, make sure to wear a face mask, carry hand sanitizer and wash your hands as soon as you get to where you’re going. Once at work, be extra cautious about touching public surfaces, such as elevator buttons and door handles, and avoid air dryers in the restrooms in favor of paper towels.
Going into stores/restaurants
Although stores and restaurants are starting to open all across the country, use caution before rushing to your favorite place. Make sure you know what safety measures are being instituted at the stores and restaurants you wish to visit and always wear a face mask when going inside. Opt for curbside pickup whenever possible and dine outside during off-hours. Bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down items on the table and bring your own pen to sign the check.
Getting ready for tax time
If the pandemic has made it difficult for you to focus on the future, filing your taxes is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Yet with July 15 right around the corner, it’s important to start thinking about them regardless of how painful it might be. Become familiar with the previously expired tax benefits that have been reinstated, such as the ability to deduct certain medical and dental expenses. Read about the latest tax news here.
Understanding unemployment benefits
Unemployment benefits have been expanded under the recent stimulus package. If you’ve recently lost your job, you might qualify. More types of workers are eligible than ever before. This guide from WSJ.com will help walk you through it.
Checking on student loan relief
If you have student loans, check to see if your loans qualify for a suspension of monthly payments and interest accrual allowed by the government.
Investigating mortgage suspension
If you have a federally-backed mortgage, your lender might allow you to suspend your monthly payments due to financial hardship resulting from the pandemic. Check with your mortgage company to find out more.
Finetuning your budget
Whether or not you’ve lost your job, take a hard look at your spending to figure out where to cut back and save money. Consider the following:
- Spend on necessary items only
- Reconsider tax withholdings
- Pause retirement contributions
- Modify insurance policies
- Protect credit by asking creditors about deferring payments or lowering interest rates
- Survey your bills and figure out how to lower them — BILLSHARK can help with this! Just give us a list of all of your recurring bills and we will figure out how to save you money.
As you start to venture out and recapture some form of normalcy in the coming months, maintaining focus on your personal and financial health will help you regain control over your present and future.