WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The coronavirus has put a tremendous day-to-day financial strain on countless South Floridians.
"We're all going through the same thing," said Dave Wentley, a financial advisor with Wentley Investments, LLC in Atlantis. "We don't have a playbook."
While there may not be a playbook, there are some things you can do to ease the burden on your family.
Wentley's first piece of advice is to focus on taking care of your immediate needs, bills, and expenses.
"Say you received a stimulus check. How should I spend it? What should I do with it? I tell people to start with what I call expenses of daily life. And that is the most immediate things facing you," Wentley said. "For some, that's food. And for others, that's shelter. For others, maybe it's helping children. Whatever is really most, that you need most right now, that's where the money should first be applied."
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Wentley also advises people to contact their lenders to see if you can get a forbearance and delay your monthly payments.
"Credit cards, mortgages, those are things that you can possibly, hopefully delay if you talk to the credit card company or the bank that has your mortgage," said Wentley, who added that many banks are willing to work with customers. "They will say, listen, we're gonna suspend payments. You're still gonna have to pay them in full, but we're gonna give you 90 days. And you don't have to make any payments for the next three months."
When it comes to unemployment, Wentley offered this advice for Floridians who have waited weeks for jobless benefits and still haven't received them.
"I would actually encourage people that haven't heard back or have been denied to reapply," said Wentley. "I would just stay with it."
If you are waiting for much-needed unemployment benefits are are strapped for cash, Wentley suggested asking family members for money.
"It may an option that's available to you. You may have a mom or a dad who may be retired and have some money put away that they can help you get you through it," said Wentley.
Regardless, Wentley said your last resort should be to withdraw funds from your 401(k) plan.
"If you need to get that money out, take it out but just try to be judicious about it. Don't take more than you need," Wentley said. "Take out what you need to meet your immediate needs."
If you do have to dip into your 401(k), Wentley said the IRS has relaxed rules when it comes to withdrawing money from your retirement accounts.
You can make a penalty-free withdrawal of up to $100,000 from your IRA. You'll then have up to three years to pay the taxes on your withdrawal, or return the full withdrawal amount without suffering a tax penalty.
In addition, the government has eased the rules for withdrawing money from your 401(k) before age 59 and a half.
"Normally, they'll hit you with a 10 percent penalty on any money that you take out of your retirement plan prior to age 59 and a half. That's gone. You don't have to worry about the penalty," said Wentley.
While times are incredible difficult for so many Floridians, Wentley is confident our economy will rebound over the next few months.
"The more we're able to reopen, let's just look at the stock market, the market will respond favorably to that," Wentley said.