I was laid off / furloughed

I or my partner have lost our source of income for now and I need to know the best moves to get through until we can get back to work.

Step 1: Apply for unemployment

File ASAP – websites are overloaded and it may take some time, so be sure you document all efforts to file if it takes you a while to get through. Your payment amount will depend on the state where you live, but the CARES Act provides $600 in additional benefits to those who are eligible. If you are a freelance or gig worker, you will need to have substantiation of previous income, so make sure you’ve filed accurate tax returns claiming all your income to qualify for the most accurate payment possible.

Step 2: Make the most of your stimulus check and tax refund, if applicable

First of all, important PSA (Public Service Announcement): the IRS is automatically sending the money based on your most recent filing, so if anyone calls you or emails you for information asking you to update anything, it’s a scam. However, you may need to proactively take action if you didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 tax return or you’ve moved or switched banks recently – review this website for where to go to update the IRS with your information. They WILL NOT be calling or emailing you in the coming weeks for this. Once you do receive your money, make the most of it by prioritizing your bills appropriately.

Step 3: Apply for short-term jobs

Even if you’ve applied for unemployment, it’s still a good idea to seek additional income as even a little bit can help. There are still businesses in desperate need of workers – think of the places you still can go or the services you’re still using, then consider picking up a few shifts until you can return to your regular job (or begin seeking a new one in your industry).

Step 4: Explore ways to pause bills

There are several federal and state government efforts to encourage banks, credit card companies and other financial entities to give flexibility to people affected by COVID-19, but you may still need to take action depending on what bills you’re unable to pay or looking to delay.

Step 5: Look into loan programs if you expect to be back to work after the crisis

This step comes with a huge caution sign, but we realize that many people won’t be able to avoid debt – if you really must go into debt to plug the earnings gap, do your best to make it as short-term as possible. If you’re confident that you’ll be able to get back to full earnings quickly once the crisis has passed, it can make sense to explore some of the special lending opportunities and even 0% credit card deals if you have good credit.

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All content is for informational purposes only and should never be considered, conveyed, or shared as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice under any circumstance.