Managing Your Money
As many Americans experience furloughs or layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic, assessing your financial situation and prioritizing bills is an important first step. This tool created by CFPB may assist you.
Banks have been instructed to offer flexibility to meet the needs of their customers dealing with the Coronavirus crisis.
With stay-at-home orders for most Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting a bank might be challenging. By using online and mobile banking, consumers can access their bank account and pay bills. The online and mobile banking tips for beginners (button below) can assist in understanding how to use both.
Many banks offer ways to open bank accounts remotely – online or through a mobile app – without going to a bank branch. FDIC created a short video that shows you how to open an account online. The FDIC BankFind tool helps you locate FDIC-insured banks in your area. Some banks and credit unions are part of a coalition known as “Bank On.” These banks have low-fee affordable banking options.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has developed the document, Cutting expenses, as part of its Your Money, Your Goals financial empowerment toolkit. This tips and strategies in this document may spark ideas on how to cut costs and reduce expenses to cover daily necessities.
Learn how to plan ahead and create a weekly menu and food shopping list. You can potentially save money by limiting trips to the grocery store.
Yes. The “Total and Permanent Discharge” program under the Dept. of Education relieves eligible individuals from having to repay or comply with obligations associated with four types of federal student aid:
- Loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
- Loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program
- Loans made under the Federal Perkins Loan Program
- A TEACH grant which requires you to complete a service obligation
You must demonstrate that you are totally and permanently disabled, and you must apply.
The federal bank regulators, FDIC and OCC, have posted answers to frequently asked questions that individuals may have regarding access to banking services during the COVID-19 health and financial crisis. Many banks have closed local branches in neighborhoods across the country. Answers to frequently asked questions include:
- What to do if you find your local bank branch closed and you are also having difficulty reaching a representative by phone.
- You can’t afford to pay your credit card bill, mortgage or car loan.
- You need to transfer funds from your bank to a family member or friend.
- What to do if the IRS sent your Economic Impact Payment to a closed bank account.
Certain creditors may view stimulus payments as an opportunity to seize money for amounts owed on outstanding court judgments. Millions of Americans have court judgments against them – often issued many years ago by default without the consumer’s knowledge. People may not realize that there are protections and steps that may be taken to ensure that they receive their stimulus payment and can use the funds. Learn what options can help you now.
In general, the CARES Act provides for expanded distribution options and favorable tax treatment for up to $100,000 of Coronavirus-related distributions from eligible retirement plans (certain employer retirement plans, such as section 401(k) and 403(b) plans and IRAs) to qualified individuals, as well as special rollover rules with respect to such distributions. It also increases the limit on the amount a qualified individual may borrow from an eligible retirement plan (not including an IRA) and permits a plan sponsor to provide qualified individuals up to an additional year to repay their plan loans. The IRS plans to issue more formal guidance in the coming months.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has prepared guidance regarding credit rights and responsibilities regarding credit card debt. Information includes financial relief options to customers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) is one of the largest and longest serving nonprofit financial counseling organizations in the U.S. Their programs and services are accessed through their national network of nonprofit member agencies. Each agency is staffed by NFCC Certified Financial Counselors. NFCC Certified Financial Counselors are trained to provide credit counseling sessions to address serious repayment issues involving credit card debt, home-related debt and student loans. Working with a nonprofit NFCC member agency, they may help you determine if you might be eligible for a Debt Management Plan to provide affordable payment terms and, in some cases, an extended payment timeline.
Professional certified financial counselors and coaches are available through the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education® (AFCPE) to help you manage the financial challenges you might be facing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. These financial professionals are available nationwide to offer you trustworthy virtual financial counseling or coaching sessions – free of cost to you. AFCPE counselors and coaches can help with determining which bills to pay first and which payments can be deferred without getting penalized, as well as building a plan to help you pay off your debt and creating strategies to avoid debt in the future.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides information for those who may be considering refinancing their mortgage or taking out a home equity loan to deal with increased expenses, a loss of income or for any other reason. While using home equity may be a good option for some consumers, it may put others at increased financial risk down the road. If your finances don’t recover as quickly as expected, or your home loses value and you have difficulty paying your loan, you could lose your home to foreclosure. Review guidance including efforts to make it easier to leverage your home value to afford expenses now.
If you are being treated for chronic, high risk, catastrophic or terminal illness, you can get case management services at no cost through Tricare eligibility. Case managers can help you figure out complex health care and support system issues.
Test your money skills and give your brain a workout with fun and educational games. Games can be powerful teaching tools. Use these fun, interactive games to help teach financial skills. Find resources on health, safety, education and banking to help protect your health and finances.
With these games, you can also build kids’ money skills while they’re home from school. These activities are based on research about how money skills are developed during childhood. The activities are free, and you don’t need to be a money expert to use them.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. This extension applies to federal taxes only. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. Most states extended their tax deadline to July 15 or later with the exception of Idaho (June 15), Iowa (July 31) Mississippi (May 15), New Hampshire (April 15), Virginia (June 1), and Hawaii (July 20).
There are many free tax preparation options available. Each program and service has different eligibility options and must be verified individually for qualifications. However, on average, households with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $69,000 or less may qualify for free tax preparation and filing. Eligibility criteria can change from year to year, so check the options for eligibility with the service you choose prior to utilizing, and always be sure to check irs.gov. Some also offer free state tax return preparation. This infographic explains more about how to file taxes for free.
Please Note: Due to COVID-19, many in-person VITA and TCE sites are closed and some may be providing virtual services at this time. Please call before visiting. Learn more about VITA programs.
There are a variety of tax credits and deductions that you may be eligible for as a person with a disability, including refundable credits such as the Earned Income Credit (EITC). Visit irs.gov/forms-pubs/disability-related-products to learn more about the different credits and deductions available.
There are a variety of options and all have pros and cons. Each individual situation is unique and supports, services and programs are subject to change rapidly. However, there are general rules to follow. Continue to check for federal, state and local options, including those in your community, as well for financial relief during these difficult times.
Lifeline is a federal program to help make communications services more affordable for eligible consumers. Lifeline lowers the monthly cost of phone and internet by up to $9.25. You can only use Lifeline for either phone or internet, but not both.
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The Financial Resilience Center was developed by National Disability Institute with generous funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation.