The COVID-19 pandemic is pretty much dominating the news cycle right now. With people out of work and many trying to figure out how to manage their finances and their debt during this emergency, it can be tough to know where to turn.
However, if you’re looking for some resources that can help you during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some options available. Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward.
1. Stimulus Checks Should Be Arriving
First of all, for those making up to $75,000 per year, $1,200 “Economic Impact Payments” should be on the way. Those with direct deposit information with the Treasury might already have seen the money deposited in their accounts.
Realize, though, that there is a phaseout starting at $75,000 per year. Those making more might get less. However, there is also an extra $500 per child. Check your bank account, and if the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit amount, check your mailbox.
You can see if you’re eligible, as well as if you want to see how to get your payment, the IRS has a tool that can help.
2. Extra Unemployment Benefits
If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you can access extra unemployment benefits. You might be eligible for up to $600 extra per week for up to 13 weeks.
It’s important to note that many state systems are overwhelmed right now — and not all of them are authorizing the same level of benefits. Check with your state’s labor department to find out what you need to do.
Even if you haven’t been laid off, but just furloughed temporarily due to your employer shutting down as the result of a state stay-at-home order, you might still be able to get some unemployment benefits.
3. Help for Small Businesses
After running out of money initially, the Paycheck Protection Program is back up, with additional funding. If you qualify, the SBA will send you a loan for up to 2.5 times your monthly payroll amount.
If you do use the money for payroll, utility payments or mortgage costs, you can actually have the loan forgiven later. This might be able to help you keep your employees — and keep your business running.
There are also disaster loans available for up to $10,000. If you’re a small business, you might be able to get access to this advance.
4. Retirement Account Access
For those who need access to more cash, Congress has changed some of the rules related to retirement account access, including access to traditional IRA and 401(k) plans.
For example, it’s possible to take an early withdrawal without paying the 10% penalty. You still have to pay taxes on the amount you withdraw, but you avoid the usual penalty. On top of that, you won’t be hit with the tax bill all at once. If you take the early withdrawal in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll be able to spread out the tax impact over three years.
This is temporary, though, so you won’t be able to keep doing this in future years. On top of that, consider that if you take money out of your retirement account, that could mean opportunity cost. You lose time in the market. Even though the rules allow you to put the money back without it impacting future contribution limits, you could still miss out.
Carefully consider this before you move forward. But for those in a tough spot, this might make sense.
5. Look at Local Covid-19 Pandemic Resources
Don’t forget to look locally. Many local agencies and city governments are getting some help for the Covid-19 pandemic.
You might need to turn to a local food bank for help with groceries. Look to see what type of housing assistance is available. Some states and cities are placing a general stay on evictions. You might also be able to get some rent relief, depending on where you live.
Find out what’s available in your area to help supplement the need. It’s important to note that many of these responses are done on a state or local basis, so what’s true in your area might not be true elsewhere.
Finally, check to see if your area has a mutual aid group. Covid-19 pandemic mutual aid groups are popping up on Facebook and on Nextdoor, providing people with a way to help each other directly during this time.
Other Places to Find COVID-19 Pandemic Resources
There are also collections of COVID-19 resources you can use. Some of the best include:
- iHeartBudgets: An overview of all the financial resources and programs available right now to help people.
- Broke Millennial: This public spreadsheet includes tabs that go beyond finances to include fitness resources, childcare ideas, shelter, mental health and more.
- Plutus Foundation: Provides a list of resources from around the personal finance web designed to help people better manage during the COVID-19 pandemic.