WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Financial expert Dave Wentley spoke with WPTV NewsChannel 5 anchor Kelley Dunn during a live Facebook chat Wednesday to answer your questions about ways to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal money that had been earmarked for the unemployed will soon no longer be an option, unless Congress takes action.
The federal program that had been offering $600 a week to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic ends Saturday.
So what are the options for those who still need it?
"Really the question is time," Wentley said. "The people that need it most can't get it soon enough, and they have to get something pushed through to help the people out that really need assistance."
One possibility is to take advantage of a change in the tax rules for early withdrawals from a 401k.
"If somebody has a spouse who can't work for one reason or another because of the pandemic, you may go in and tap the 401k without the 10% penalty," Wentley said.
Wentley said he always tells his clients to "social distance yourself from the 401k because that's your retirement money."
But, he said, if there is an immediate need, that's a great place to start.
"Be judicious," he advised. "You know, don't take it out to go above and beyond. Just take it out to meet your immediate needs."
Where can renters go for help?
Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Aug. 1.
Wentley suggests that renters speak to their landlords about how to pay their rent.
"My hope is that they would at least allow a step method" for repayment, Wentley said.
Social Security concerns
What about someone who was recently laid off and hasn't been contributing to Social Security? Will it adversely impact his or her retirement?
Not really, Wentley said.
Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings.
"Really, it's not going to matter at all," Wentley said.
What if you still are employed?
Is it better to put money into savings or pay down debt? Do both, Wentley said.
"Say you have a dollar left over," Wentley explained. "Put 50 cents toward your debt obligation and put 50 cents into your savings or your retirement plan."
Wentley said he believes the best thing to do is to build your net worth.
"And the best way to build your net worth is to minimize your debt," he added.
Watch the full interview for more belt-tightening and financial tips.