Two weeks ago, I was sitting in my office at GOLD when my husband called to tell me he wouldn’t be going back to work the next day. Because of non-essential business closings, the company he works for shut down, and he isn’t getting a paycheck for the time spent at home. At 6 o’clock that night, we got an email from daycare. They shut down too.
Like so many of you (An estimated 1 in 10 Americans say their business is temporarily or permanently closed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic), my family’s life has been turned upside down by COVID-19. We’re fortunate that I’m still working, but the impact of losing one partner’s income, even temporarily, is scary. After the initial shock wore off, my husband and I set to work figuring out our options and how to ride out the shutdown for however long it lasts.
If you’re among those affected and you aren’t getting paid, here are 5 practical steps you can take to ease the strain on your finances.
- File for unemployment. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have taken steps to specifically address unemployment as a result of COVID-19 business closures, reduced hours, or quarantining. Visit your state’s unemployment compensation website, confirm you qualify, and complete your application.
Pennsylvania has suspended the one-week waiting period to be eligible for benefits, as well as the requirement that claimants prove they’ve been looking for work.
- Put a lockdown on your spending. With less money coming in, it’s important to immediately adjust your spending habits. While we all hope the virus will be quickly contained and we can get back to life as usual, we need to prepare for it to be longer. Eliminate the extras right away and carefully consider all your purchases.
- Explore options to pause loan payments. Check your lender’s website or give them a call to ask for options to pause your payments. If you’re unable to pay a loan with GOLD, please give us a call so we can talk with you.
- File your taxes. If you have a refund coming, that’s extra cash in your pocket, and the sooner you file the sooner you’ll get your refund.
If you owe money, the IRS has extended both the filing and payment deadlines for your federal taxes to July 15. File and pay on time to avoid owing fees and penalties.
Check your state and local tax agencies to see if they’re extending deadlines as well. Pennsylvania has pushed back their tax due date to July 15.
- If you own a small business, explore SBA disaster loans. Small business owners in many states, including Pennsylvania, are eligible to apply for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration due to COVID-19. If your state or county isn’t yet on the eligible locations list, keep checking back.
Have you heard about the government sending checks to some Americans? It’s not just an urban legend; it’s real. It’s part of the Coronavirus relief bill that was signed into law Friday (3/27). If you meet the requirements, it’s another source of cash to help tide you over. How much can you expect? Kiplinger’s calculator can help you figure that out.
Finally, remember that GOLD is here for our Members. Credit unions are uniquely positioned to help in times of trouble because our Members are our owners. We’ll get through this challenge together.
About Laura Pruitt
Laura is the Marketing & Communications Director at GOLD. She is responsible for GOLD's communications to Members and future Members. She enjoys making financial information easy to digest and empowering Members to take charge of their financial futures.
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