Where are you on the COVID-19 Pandemic Financial Experience Scale? Working-class people are experiencing this pandemic very differently financially. There are 3 benchmarks on the scale. This is a look at the second benchmark, "Treading."
For you, the crisis is disruptive but not destructive. You have some reserves and a safety net. You are experiencing diminished income. You can maintain most of your lifestyle with a combination of reduction of non-essential expenses and subsidies from your stockpiles of food and finances. There are finite amounts of those resources available. Here are some tactics you can use to help you maintain the status quo for a while.
Credit card forbearances can be tricky. It's all about the interest and how it reports to the credit bureaus. I've heard of some very generous terms. ‘Current balance held at no interest until paid in full as serviced by a minimum payment.’ It is also reported to the credit bureaus as "paid as agreed." If you currently have a statement balance that amounts to an interest-free loan instead of the legally usurious interest rates credit cards charge now. Double-check to see if the terms apply to cash advance balances also. Often you "voluntarily" agree not to use the credit card during the forbearance period. If your credit servicer is not offering generous terms, make your minimum monthly payment during the pandemic. (If you are unable to make your minimum monthly payments, you are in Surviving mode.)
Keeping your word is paramount in this situation. Do not make commitments you can't keep. You may have to go back to your creditors for additional relief. Broken payment promises may make them less likely to provide help.
Where are you on the COVID-19 Pandemic Financial Experience Scale? Working-class people are experiencing this pandemic very differently financially. There are 3 benchmarks on the scale. This is a look at the first benchmark, "Surviving."
This crisis caught you unprepared. You have limited resources anda fragile safety net. Your income is gone. Your lifestyle is in jeopardy. Your standard of living is diminished. You have done all you know to do. The stress and pressure are negatively affecting you, physically and emotionally. You’ve gone from making savings and debt reduction decisions to housing and food insecurity. Your financial focus (time, talent, and treasure) has shifted from working on longer-term goals to money shortage problem-solving. You see very little if any light at the end of the tunnel. Your future looks bleak. You need a miracle. So, position yourself for one. Here is how to activate the power of God in your financial life, on purpose.
The context of this promise is to individuals who had not tithed in the past, like you. Despite that, they were offered a fresh start. That is true for you also. Grace and Mercy will overcome your guilt and history financially. The point is to start and don’t stop.
It is controversial whether the tithe applies to the New Testament dispensation. It is not controversial to me. When I made my commitment to tithe, “I was so broke I couldn’t pay attention.” My conversation with God went like this. “Okay, Lord, You said if I tithed, You would bless me and mine. If You bless me, I’ll go tell it. And if You don’t bless me, I’ll go tell that too.” That was not a threat to God but rather a promise to give Him a Yelp review. That was about 4 decades ago, and I have never looked back or regretted the decision. “Five stars, Outstanding customer service.”
“Blessed” means different things to different people. Here are some of the elements I consider when I say, “I’m blessed.”
Get your eyes off the promise and turn them toward the Promise Keeper. Now that you have started tithing, you rightfully expect a return. However, tithing is not an investment. Your focus should not be on the timing and size of the promised return. Instead, your focus should be on pleasing God. Remember, He provides daily.
Be wary of those who preach to your desperation and not to your faith. Tithing requires you to give your money away. Where you give your money is important. Because of the prevalence of “prosperity preachers and famine feeders” making appeals, the tithing message can be easily distorted to appeal to your need. Give to them, and you will receive, you are told. That appeals to your need. You don’t give to get, no matter how great your need. You give to honor God. Your motive is just as important as your behavior. When you give, be sure it is for the right reason and not because of a compelling appeal.
Miraculously changing your financial life requires a change in behavior. Behavior changes are not easy. Changes of behavior require commitment. Commitment is demonstrated by behavior. Tithing is a behavior. And just like with exercise and oral hygiene, consistency is what brings long-term results.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced you into a desperate situation. Your options are few and dwindling. Your situation seems beyond your capacity to solve. You need a miracle. Position yourself for a lifetime of miraculous provisions by being a hardcore tither. What have you got to lose? You don’t have enough to make it now, anyhow, right? Honor God with your tithe and experience His provision and more. True, you don't have to be a tither to be blessed by God. However, I have never seen a tither not blessed by God. No, not one.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every American family. The severity of the impact varies based on socioeconomic and demographic factors. For most working-class people, the result will be short-term economic devastation due to the loss of income, health benefits, and savings. It does not matter where your family is on the pandemic financial disaster scale, The pandemic left working-class families worse off. The economic toll has yet to be calculated.
At the time of this writing, the economic situation is very fluid. Without income, families are in housing default or food insecurity. The longer it goes on, the more widespread the economic suffering will be. The final impact on your family’s financial well-being may be unknowable and out of your control. What is in your control is resilience.
Resilience is an integral part of financial well-being. As any world-champion prizefighter would tell you, “It is not just how hard a punch you threw; but also how hard a punch you took that matters.” Stuff happens in life all the time. We don’t know its name and duration until it happens. “COVID-19 pandemic” is this large steaming pile of stuff’s name. And when stuff happens, you have to deal with it. To continue to torture the prizefight analogy, “In life, it is not that you got knockdown. Instead, it is how long you stay down and what you do after you get up that determines the outcome.”
So no matter how hard you got knockdown. Get up. Here is how.
1. Start Planning Your Comeback Now While You Are Going Through. Focus on what you want your life to be. Set short-term recovery goals. What do you have to do to keep your vow “not to be caught like this again?" Start or add to your Emergency fund.. Restock or build your Food bank. Build and improve Relationships with members of your safety net. Vote. Engage with all levels of civic government. Understand the impact of civic appropriations and taxiing decisions and whose interests are benefited by those decisions. Then vote your interests. Local, state and the federal government should be run competently with an adequately resourced staff of honest public servants. Also, there should be citizen oversight with political and criminal accountability.
2. Stay In The Moment. Every day has its own supply of challenges and joy. You can’t know the future, good or bad. Don’t create horrible future mental scenarios. Focus on making informed good choices now. The right decisions lead to good outcomes. Why worry about tomorrow? Doing so will not add an hour to your life. Matt 6:34
3. Believe In Yourself. You can do this. You don’t have to know every step of how. Just do the best you can each step of the way. Remember, you are playing a long game. Your outlook is post-pandemic. Don’t let a short-term decision lead to long-term financial turmoil.
4. Trust in God. If you believe He provides, then face each day with confidence.
5. Give. Don’t be so inward-focused. Turn your attention outwards and help others less fortunate than yourself.
6. Maximize Self-Care to mitigate the stress and depression that your situation fosters. In every airline pre-flight video, you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask first. Only then help others in the event of a loss of cabin pressure. Money troubles increase pressure. You must find a way to release it before hurting others, generally those closest to you.
For additional information on mental Resilience.
COVID-19 is affecting many business collection practices. If your bank is anything like mine, you got an email notification that they were offering payment deferrals for mortgages and credit card customers. In this post, we're going to take a look at what deferred payments or a forbearance looks like in your mortgage account should you choose one and what are the pros and cons of a mortgage forbearance.
Forbearance is when you and your mortgage company agree to temporarily suspend or reduce your monthly mortgage payments for a specific period. This allows you to deal with short-term financial problems by giving you time to get back on your feet and bring your mortgage current. Keeping your word is paramount in this situation. Do not make commitments you can't keep. You may have to go back to your creditors for additional relief. Broken payment promises may make them less likely to provide help.
You should contact your mortgage servicer to see what terms are offered. Doing so will help you better understand your options. It is always better to contact a creditor before you get behind on payments. You have to request and qualify for forbearance. If you have a federal loan (FHA, VA, USDA), your qualification is guaranteed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A forbearance allows you to maintain your cash as you navigate through a temporary crisis. Typically, the forbearance is for three months. You don't have to pay your mortgage during a forbearance. That deferred monthly payment becomes a cash cushion for you during this time. Understand a 'deferred payment' doesn't mean a 'never payment.' You will eventually have to make up any deferred payments. Please read the previous two sentences again.
Deferred payments may accrue additional interest and extend the length of your mortgage, depending on the forbearance terms. If your monthly payment includes an escrow amount, that will also be deferred. That will create an escrow shortage. An escrow shortage will increase your monthly mortgage payment escrow amount the next time your servicer does an escrow reconciliation. Be aware and prepare for such an eventuality. Escrow shortages and reconciliation timing can create future monthly mortgage payment volatility. You can pay your escrow amount during the forbearance to prevent a deficiency. If you decide to do this, verify your partial payments are credited to your escrow balance.
Before you agree to the forbearance, understand how it will report to the credit bureaus. Most lenders will not report your account to the credit bureaus during the forbearance, if you abide by the terms of the forbearance. The credit score impact of a late monthly mortgage payment can be devastating and long term. Most new credit scoring models more heavily weigh mortgage than other types of payments when calculating your payment history. Some newer credit scoring models treat late payments during a natural disaster less harshly. Surely the COVID-19 pandemic is a natural disaster.
In times of financial uncertainty, cash on hand gives you options. A deferred payment doesn't increase your income. It lowers your outgo. During such times, reducing your monthly obligations is prudent. You can always pay your mortgage during or after the forbearance.
Should you take a mortgage forbearance offered during the pandemic? For the vast majority of borrowers, that answer would be yes. A lot depends on where you are on the pandemic financial disaster scale. There are three benchmarks on the scale:
Regardless of your situation, your deferred payments are not for vacations, entertainment, clothes, and other things "you deserve or owe to yourself." Do not use debt to finance your wants. Wants are why you have savings accounts. Beware of "easy money." Don't get greedy and let a short-term decision lead to long-term financial turmoil.
Here are two other considerations. First the less time you have left on your mortgage, the more impractical a forbearance. Since now, the majority of your payment is going toward extinguishing your principal and not interest. In such a situation, access forbearance in an extreme emergency only. Second, home equity line of credit (HELOC) loans are considered revolving accounts by most banks and generally don't offer traditional mortgage forbearance. Even though the loan is secured by your home. Most lenders will try to assist, if you need it.
No one knows the final impact of the virus or how long the pandemic will last. Every family is sure to be buffeted by its economic turbulence. Society will respond in various ways. There are future financial decisions to be made. But for now, taking a mortgage forbearance makes sense for a lot of us.
COVID-19 and Estate PlanningRead Now
The mortality projections from the COVID-19 virus range from a low-ball, happy-talk 100,000 to an alarmist 2.8 million. That is a lot of death. The majority of Americans will have first-hand knowledge of someone in their social network who grieves for a COVID-19 casualty. Whatever the number, a lot of people will die from the pandemic. Their deaths will be added to the 2.8 million people who die annually in the United States.
Dead people leave estates. Everyone leaves an estate no matter how meager. For most working-class people, their estate consists of stuff and people. The people are your family and friends. Stuff is all you’ve accumulated in your life regardless of value. An estate plan gives you a final say.
Planning for death isn’t widespread. A majority of Americans will die without an estate plan. The reasons are varied:
Some people superstitiously believe that planning for death brings it on quicker. Sooner or later does matter, but die you will. And dying without an estate plan from this pandemic or of natural causes in the next century will cause confusion and unnecessarily burden your family. The lack of an estate plan forces your family through the strain of the probate court.
The real purpose of an estate plan is to provide peace of mind and give you a sense of accomplishment. The majority of Americans desire an estate plan.
An estate plan is part of a MoneySmartLife. The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the need to get or update ours now. Admittedly, there is a knowledge gap when it comes to estate planning for most. You have to close your gap of knowledge on this. Informing yourself will help you help your family, friends, and yourself successfully deal with this fact of life during these times of high anxiety. Being informed will make your interactions with estate and financial planning professionals more fruitful.
The pandemic offers the opportunity to address estate planning with your social network. Parents should be especially aware of estate plans regarding minors. Unresolved custody issues can be extremely volatile and detrimental to relationships and finances. COVID-19’s virulent infectious nature requires those that die, must often die alone. There will be no bedside visits and last wishes. Discuss, then codify your desires with your family now. Once your estate plan is handled, encourage others in your social network to do the same. Everyone should have an estate plan, even more so the vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although a necessary expenditure, the cost of having an estate plan prepared has been an impediment to some. In most cases, the advice and counsel of estate-planning attorneys and financial planners should be sought. But in this emergency, a simple online estate plan is better than no plan at all. Dying intestate can be catastrophic to your estate and final wishes. After you have your emergency online estate plan, resolve to keep it updated with the help of qualified professionals as the seasons in your life change.
I am calling for free or heavily discounted simple estate plans from the top 8 best online will makers in 2020 during the pandemic. The estate plan would include a Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills. If Americans would create and update their estate plans, it will prevent an overwhelming surge of pandemic death cases to probate court dockets.
Having an estate plan is a necessity for everyone. Shielding your loved ones and property from courts, taxes, wounding quarrels, etc. is your plan’s goal. Make one today. Don’t worry about it being perfect. It can be changed later. Regardless of age, create or update your estate plan now.