These times of global pandemic are truly unprecedented, so it’s only natural if you find your life is quite different than it was just a few weeks ago. You may be laid off from your job; you may be juggling working at home and schooling your children; you may be feeling nervous that you are still working in a setting that feels risky.
Whatever you are going through, we want you to know NeighborWorks Columbus is with you.
Prioritizing Your Spending
We want to help you navigate some of these times, particularly when it comes to managing your finances.
If your income has taken a hit during this crisis, it’s time to prioritize your spending. First, we recommend making a list of all your income and expenses and honestly ask yourself where you can make cuts. Here’s what many experts recommend for spending priorities.
Spend in this order to maintain your basic household needs first, and if you have money left over you can work that into your other bills. Don’t forget about your debt payments, but if you see that you will not be able to make minimum payments in full, contact the companies immediately and see if you can work out a deal. You are not the only one in this situation, so there’s a good chance they will work with you.
Breaking Down the Federal Stimulus Package and Ways it Can Help You
By now you probably also have heard that there is a federal stimulus bill to help the country through this time. Not only will most Americans be receiving a check from the IRS, but there are also several components of the bill that may provide some financial relief to you during this time.
Under the bill, most Americans will receive money in the coming weeks to help ease the financial burden this pandemic has caused many.
Individual taxpayers will receive up to $1,200; married filing jointly will receive up to $2,400 and those with qualifying dependents under 17 will receive $500 per child.
The exceptions? Single taxpayers making $75,000 or above; married couples making $150,000 or above; and heads of household (single taxpayers with dependents) making above $112,500 will not receive these payments.
The money is based on your 2019 or 2018 tax returns if you haven’t filed last year’s taxes, and if you sign up for direct deposit with the IRS you will get a check in your bank account. If you receive paper refund checks, expect it to take longer but will come in the mail.
This check calculator from Forbes will help you calculate how much you will receive.
If you have been laid off from your job due to COVID-19, the good news is there will be a boost in unemployment wages.
In addition to the benefits of the state of Georgia, the federal stimulus will offer an additional $600/week and has been expanded from 26 to 39 weeks. Independent contractors are also eligible to receive these benefits.
In Georgia, all unemployment claims are filed on the Department of Labor website and not in person at this time. Employers are required to file a partial claims benefit on your behalf.
You can find a link to the Georgia Department of Labor site here.
Paid Family Medical Leave
Under the bill, individuals are offered up to 12 weeks of paid family medical leave if unable to work because school or daycares are closed. It covers ⅔ of your typical salary.
Paid Sick Leave for Full and Part Time Employees
Paid sick leave is available if you have Covid-19 or are taking care of someone who does.
Mortgage and Rent Relief
Homeowners can qualify for a 6 month forbearance on their mortgage payments. During that time, interest still accrues, but there are no fees, penalties, or extra interest added to the loans.
Renters, however, only have eviction protection if they live in housing that has a federally backed mortgage.
Do not just stop paying your mortgage or rent. You will need to be in touch with your landlord/mortgage lender to work out this deal ahead of time if your hardship is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be no interest or payments due on student loans from April to Sept. 30. Additionally, if you are in a loan rehabilitation program (meaning you defaulted), it is still treated as if you are making the payments during these six months.
There is a lot to unpack in this stimulus package. While there is a statewide shelter in place order, NeighborWorks Columbus will not be open to the public, but our staff is available and just as committed to you. Give us a call, and we’ll guide you through a tough financial season.