File this one under âno correlation,â despite a flood of news articles claiming the Fed’s rate cut directly impacts mortgage rates. Today, the Fed cut the federal funds rate by half a percentage point to a range of 1-1.25% due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, this despite a strong U.S. economy. That sent mortgage [&hellip
The post Mortgage Rates vs. Fed Announcements first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.
Sisoje/Getty Images; Julie Migliacci; erhui1979/Getty Images; photoman/Getty Images
In some ways, buying a home got a lot easier in 2020, and in a lot of ways, it didn’t. Welcome to the mixed-up, unpredictable, unprecedented pandemic world we’ve all been living through. It’s truly been a year like no other. But no matter which way the pendulum was swinging, realtor.com was here to help you make the best of it.
Whether you were a first-time home buyer house hunting during the pandemic or a seller wondering how to get the best price for your property, we brought expert-approved insights to you all year long.
We’re (finally) just a couple of weeks away from 2021, but to help you head into the new year as a well-informed home buyer, seller, or owner, we thought we’d reflect on the top lessons we learned about real estate this year.
Take a look back at our best real estate advice of 2020, and click each headline to dive deeper into the topics that were top of mind for all of us.
Should I Buy a House During the Coronavirus Crisis? An Essential Guide
As if deciding whether or not it’s time to purchase a home isn’t a tough enough decision, the coronavirus pandemic made everything even more shaky.
Many potential home buyers have been wondering if it’s even safe to shop for a home during a pandemic, and that’s a very fair question. And even if you do succeed in finding a home you like, is this the right time to pull the trigger?
Here’s what our top finance experts had to say about whether now is the time to buy.
Can’t miss tip: Mortgage rates reached historic lows in 2020, but experts believe they’ll rise quickly in 2021. Now may be a good time to buy if you want to lock in those low interest rates.
6 Home Upgrades Buyers Want in the COVID-19 Era
Photo by mercer INTERIOR
It’s no secret to sellers that refreshing the inside and outside of your home is a great way to bring in potential buyersâand multiple offers. But in 2020, the world became a different place, and stay-at-home orders, plus the closures of schools, restaurants, and gyms, made us look at homes much differently.
Knowing they’d be spending much more time at home (working, schooling, exercising, and just about everything else that used to be done elsewhere), buyers started prioritizing features they might have overlooked in the past.
Watch: Talking About the Top Real Estate Markets for 2021
Find out what new upgrades buyers are seeking in the COVID-19 eraâand what formerly hot upgrades are now so 2019.
Can’t miss tip: Home buyers in 2020 and beyond are looking for a place where a lot can happenâand maybe all at once. This means the once-desired open floor plan is now a turnoff, and separation of space is where it’s at.
Is It Safe To House Hunt During the Coronavirus Crisis? This Is What You Must Know
Safety is still top of mind for most active home buyers and sellers.
While the majority of real estate agents are doing everything they can to lessen the risk for their clients, there are still some home buyers who just don’t feel comfortable taking on the process in-person.
Read along as we explain every part of the process that can now be done remotely, and how to make sure it works for you.
Can’t miss tip: A good home-buying experience always starts with choosing the right real estate agent, and it was never more true than in 2020. If you’re looking for a virtual home-buying experience, it’s important to connect with a real estate agent who knows exactly how to make it work to your advantage.
It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI
If you found yourself with a little extra time on your hands this year, you may have decided to take on a few DIY home improvement projects. Because you were at home already!
It makes sense, then, that you’d wonder which ones would give you the biggest return on investmentâthe home projects that will earn you more money when you decide to sell. No one wants to waste their time on fruitless labor, so check out which DIY projects tend to promise the biggest payoff.
Can’t miss tip: It’s not always those giant projects that yield the biggest profit. One expert says bells and whistles don’t always pay off, and instead recommends homeowners take on several, smaller projects for a better ROI.
5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Homeâand Jeopardize Your Sale
If you’re trying to sell your home, it’s important you take everything into considerationâand we mean everything.
It doesn’t matter if you believe in omens or not. There are a lot of potential home buyers who do, which means seeing a bad token could be a complete deal breaker, no matter how much they love your home.
Click through to find out what some of the more common bad omens are, so you can get to work clearing them out of your space.
Can’t miss tip: Those adorable rocking chairs on your front porch might seem like a warm welcome to you, but if the wind blows and they rock, it may send some home shoppers running. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to keep it from happening, without moving your chairs to the garage.
First-Time Home Buyer Confessions: ‘How We Beat 32 Offers and Got the House’
Every home buyer’s worst nightmare is finding a dream house and having to battle other buyers for it. But what if there were 32 other buyers?
That’s exactly what happened to these buyers, and they came out victoriousâeven without placing the highest bid. Keep reading to find out exactly how they made it happen.
Can’t miss tip: Today’s real estate market is very fast-moving in many areas, which means there’s very little time (if any) between viewing a house you love and placing an offer. Study up on the neighborhoods you’re shopping in, so you’re ready to make an informed decision on the spot.
5 Coronavirus Real Estate Myths Everyone Thinks Are TrueâDebunked
It’s true that COVID-19 has turned the real estate market on its head, but that doesn’t mean you should believe everything you hear. In fact, falling for some of the real estate myths may cause a potential home buyer or seller to miss out on a golden opportunity. Read on to find out what’s being said, and what’s actually factual.
Can’t miss tip: You may have heard that home prices are plummeting because of COVID-19, meaning it’s not a good time to list your house. In actuality, the opposite is true thanks to low interest rates.
5 Weird Reality Checks You’ll Get If You Buy a Country Home
Due to the pandemic, this year found many city dwellers moving out of the city into quieter, less populated areas. That means sprawling yards, quiet neighbors, dark nights, and lots of peace, right? Truth be told, country life isn’t always idyllic. In fact, it has some strange quirks that you may not expect.
Find out what happened when one city dweller bought a rural home and discovered that even in the country, things can get weird.
Can’t miss tip: Country living is all about co-existing with woodland critters, so if you move out of the city, be prepared to share your spaceâboth inside and outâwith deer, mice, and other wildlife.
The post The Best Real Estate Advice of 2020: How the Pandemic Transformed Housing This Year appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
How to Exercise Outside While Social Distancing
Yoga studios and gyms, even fitness centers found in the average apartment complex, have been closed as a response to the spread of COVID-19. As a result, people are left needing to find alternative ways to stay active in order to meet their fitness goals. For people who prefer exercising with a group, navigating through this might be a bit tough as you are looking for ways to stay in shape while social distancing.
Social distancing while living in an apartment can be tricky. Especially when you are looking for ways to get outside and exercise. It is important to understand that at this time, social distancing is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, this does not mean that you need to stay inside your apartment binge watching Netflix. Maintaining good health habits is important, especially right now. If you are at a loss of things that you can do to stay in shape, here are a few fun ideas that you can practice while still maintaining social distance.
Most areas have local trails nearby. If you have a car, driving to one of these areas can be a great way to get out of the house and enjoy some nature. You can hike the trails at a national or state park. In fact, many neighborhoods offer trails that you can run, bike, or walk on.
Take a few minutes to do a bit of research and chances are you will be surprised at how many public trails there are around your apartment complex for you to enjoy. The official website of your town is likely to offer information about different city trails that you can enjoy. You can also search your county and state websites for more information about what trails are currently open for you to enjoy.
Remember, when you are running on a trail, you should maintain a six-foot distance between yourself and others who might be out enjoying the trail. If necessary, slow your pace or go around the other person at a safe distance while you are out.
Run Through Neighborhoods
Taking a walk or a jog along the side of the road is a great way to get outside and exercise. With fewer cars on the roads these days, running along the side of the road is fairly safe. You should maintain distance and be careful, but there are plenty of neighborhoods around your apartment that you can take a run through. Your apartment complex likely has areas that you can run in as well. If necessary, you could just walk around the different buildings throughout your apartment complex. Choose different paths and learn more about the area that you live in, all while maintaining social distance.
Yoga in the Park
Yoga is a great form of exercise that can relieve stress. All you really need for this type of exercise is a yoga mat or a soft surface such as a grassy field. Of course, you can practice yoga from the comfort of your home, but if you are looking for a way to exercise outside, pack up your mat and head to an open area. There is a good chance that you will not have to go very far from your apartment to find an open area where you can practice yoga. There are parks that have open areas where you can spread out, enjoy the great outdoors, and strike some yoga poses.
Go Fly a Kite
If you are looking for something fun to do, that is also a form of exercise, why not build a kite and take it out to fly? Flying kites may seem like something that will not give you much exercise, but when you are sprinting to get it up in the air, you are definitely going to be winded afterwards. Kite flying is a great social distancing activity because you will be in an open field, away from others. Plus, who doesnât love the idea of getting a kite up in the air and watching it soar?
If you are used to group exercise, join a virtual accountability group. Create a step challenge among your friends. Social media provides a great way to stay connected and motivated. You could even put up flyers in your apartment complex for an exercise competition group. You can use a social media app to track goals and possibly even come up with prizes for the winners.
Read How to Exercise Outside While Social Distancing on Apartminty.
As Americans grappled with the financial consequences of the pandemic in March of this year, the federal government took several actions to help cash-strapped consumers. For starters, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in late March of 2020, which included a temporary suspension of payments and interest for government-owned student loans through the end of September 2020.
Beyond just suspending payments and interest, the act also halted all collections activities on federal student loans. Americans pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) would see these non-payment months counted toward the 120 months of payments needed to have their loans forgiven.
This announcement was a huge relief for Americans with student debt since it meant they could pause federal student loan payments without accruing interest or facing penalties for several months. And recently, this assistance was extended for the remainder of 2020.
About the Student Loan Deferment Order
According to a memorandum from the White House, this extension intends to âprovide such deferments to borrowers as necessary to continue the temporary cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020.â
What does this mean for borrowers? The extension of this order means that those with federally owned student loans (not private student loans) can continue skipping payments for the duration of 2020. Interest wonât accrue on federal student loans during this time, and penalties wonât come into effect for those who choose to defer loan payments.
How Does This Help Student Loan Borrowers?
Although unemployment numbers have improved since the summer, the initial pause on federal student loan payments was of massive help for borrowers struggling with job loss or a loss in pay. After all, getting a break from student loan payments made room for funds to go toward other household needs and bills. Keep in mind that the average student loan payment is approximately $393 for all borrowers, but that many with advanced degrees pay significantly more than that every month.
When the Presidential action was released, it was unclear whether borrowers pursuing PSLF will still receive credit for non-payment months. However, a U.S. Department of Education press release clarified that PSLF borrowers would, in fact, receive credit toward loan forgiveness as if theyâd made on-time payments.
Just keep in mind that this order does not apply to consumers with private student loans. Only federal student loans qualify for this protection, although some private student loan companies are offering their own separate deferment options to consumers who can show financial hardship.
Pros and Cons of Making Payments During Automatic Deferment
One interesting detail from this order is buried in the fine print:
âAll persons who wish to continue making student loan payments shall be allowed to do so, notwithstanding the deferments provided pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.â
In summary, you can continue making payments on your federal student loans during the deferment period if you want to. Whether you should, depends on your goals and your situation.
Benefits of Making Loan Payments
If you havenât faced a loss in income, then you might be tempted to continue making payments on your student loans. The benefits of doing so include:
- Paying down your student loan debt faster. The Department of Education says that, through the end of 2020, âthe full amount of your payments will be applied to principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13 is paid.â This means that every cent thrown toward your loans right now applies to your loan balance, quickly reducing your student debt on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
- Saving money on interest. Because of the way interest accrues on student loans and other debts, reducing your balance will automatically save you money on interest over the long haul. The more you pay toward your student loans now, the more money you save.
Disadvantages of Making Loan Payments
There are a few potential downsides to making student loan payments when theyâre not required. Plus, borrowers with certain types of student loans should not be making payments right now.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
- You may need the money later on. Even if your income is fine right now, the financial fallout from the pandemic is far from over. If you choose to make student loan payments through the end of the year and lose your job in a few months, you might wish you had saved that extra cash instead.
- Those pursuing PSLF shouldnât make payments. If youâre pursuing PSLF, then this deferment period is counted toward the 120 on-time payments you need for loan forgiveness. If you continued making payments through the end of the year, you would be throwing money down the drain.
- Most borrowers on income-driven repayment plans have little incentive to make payments. If youâre on an income-driven repayment plan like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Income Based Repayment (IBR), then your loan payment is only a percentage of your discretionary income, and your loans will be forgiven after 20-25 years of on-time payments. Borrowers who aim to have their loans forgiven after 20-25 years anyway should skip payments through the end of the year and set aside their cash for a rainy day instead.
The Bottom Line
Individuals who want to pay off their loans quickly would be smart to pay as much as they can, but only if they can afford it. It also makes sense to be cautious about any extra income you have for the time being. After all, more economic pain may be on the way, and itâs possible you could face a loss in income later in the year.
Without any interest accruing on federally owned student loans during this historic forbearance, however, you could always put your student loan payments into a high-yield savings account until the end of the year. At that point, you can assess your financial situation and make a large, lump sum payment toward your loans if you want.
This strategy creates a greater safety net for the remainder of 2020 while also paying down debt faster with a large payment before the end of December. Run the numbers and make sure you have a plan (and a back-up plan) in place.
The post Should You Make Payments During Coronavirus Student Loan Deferment? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
By the end of May 2020, more than 40 million people had filed unemployment claims due to COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdowns. Governments, charities, and even creditors scrambled to put programs in place to support people during this time while also mitigating future economic fallout.
And this isn’t the first time creditors have found themselves working to support borrowers while worrying about their own bottom lines. It’s an issue that occurred during the 2008 recession and one that occurs regionally during national disasters. The new FICO Resilience Index is a tool that creditors might use to help better prepare for times of economic crisis. Find out more about this Index and how it might impact you below.
What Is the FICO Resilience Index?
The FICO Resilience Index is a numeric score each
person is given. The score is supposed to tell creditors how likely a person is
to continue paying their bills as agreed during an economic downturn.
The Index, which is brought to you by the makers of the
popular FICO Score for creditworthiness, ranges from 1 to 99. In contrast to
credit scores, where a higher number is better, a lower FICO Resilience Index score
is better. Hereâs how the range breaks down:
- 1â44: More resilient to changes in economic
- 45â59: Moderately resilient to changes in
- 60â69: Sensitive to changes in economic
- 70â99: Very sensitive to changes in economic
So, if you have a FICO Resilience Index of 10, it indicates that there’s a good chance that during economic upheaval such as a pandemic or recession, you’re still going to pay your bills on time. If you score a 90, that’s considered much less likely.
How Is the Resilience Index Different from a Credit Score?
A credit score is meant to indicate the likelihood that you will pay your bills on time and as agreed at any time. The Resilience Index rates how sensitive you might be to economic changes and the likelihood that you may be unable to pay bills during a downturn or crisis.
For example, the top factor in your credit score is
whether or not you pay your bills in a timely manner. Your FICO Resilience
Index score is more concerned by your total balance and number of open
accounts. If you balance is high and you have a lot of open accounts, you may
be less able to pay these off during times of crisis.
Hereâs what the FICO Resilience Index looks for:
- Low total balance on revolving credit in comparison to limits
- A lower number of open, active credit accounts
- Fewer hard inquiries within the past 12 months
- A longer credit age, which indicates more experience managing credit
You can improve your FICO Resilience Index by reducing hard inquiries and not opening new credit accounts unless they’re necessary. But the index relies heaviest on credit utilization. Keeping your credit card and other revolving account balances as low as possible can improve your index score.
Does the FICO Resilience Index Matter to You?
As of mid-2020, the FICO Resilience Index is new, and
not a lot of organizations have integrated it into their lending processes yet.
In the beginning, it might not be especially relevant to consumers. However, as
organizations start to integrate it, there’s a good chance creditors may
consider both your credit score and your resilience number when approvingâor
Where Can You See Your FICO Resilience Index?
To have a FICO Resilience Index score, you must have at least one account that was reported to the credit bureau in question in the past 6 months. You must also have at least one account that is at least six months old.
As of July 2020, the FICO Resilience Index is being
provided in pilot testing to lenders. FICO is partnering with Equifax and
Experian to include the index alongside credit scores when lenders conduct a
hard credit inquiry. As of July 2020, the index scores were not yet made
available to consumers.
Does This New Number Make Credit Scores Less Important?
The FICO Resilience Index doesn’t reduce the importance
of your credit score. Lenders are still concerned with whether or not someone
is a âgood risk.â Even with a strong resilience number, you may find yourself
getting turned down for loans or credit cards if you have a poor credit score.
You can’t check your FICO Resilience Index number at this time. But you can check your credit report and scores and make good financial decisions. In many cases, what’s good for your credit score is also good for your Resilience Index. Start today by signing up for Credit.com’s Credit Report Card or ExtraCredit. ExtraCredit offers 28 of your FICO scores for review, and they’re updated regularlyâhelping you stay on top of your credit trends.
The post What Is the FICO Resilience Index? appeared first on Credit.com.
Mortgage rates can be pretty volatile. Just like stocks, they can change daily depending on whatâs happening in the economy. Beyond that, mortgage rates can move based on news that doesnât involve a report on the economic calendar, such as a jobs report, GDP, housing starts, inflation, etc. Even if there isnât a direct financial [&hellip
The post Mortgage Rates vs. the Coronavirus: We Might Test New All-Time Lows first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.
It’sÂ heeeere: tax time.
Granted, this year, the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Internal Revenue Service to extend the usual April 15 deadline to July 15. That might have seemed like plenty of timeâand yet here we are, with a mere two weeks to go and a filing window that’s closing fast.
We get it. Maybe you’re a procrastinator. Or maybe you’re a homeowner who, rather than taking the easy-peasy standard deduction, generally tries to save a bundle by itemizing your deductions instead.
Whatever your reason, if you’ve put off filing your taxes until now, don’t panic! You still have options.
Here are three last-minute tax tips for homeowners that could save you plenty of money, headaches, and more.
Tip No. 1: Grab FormÂ 1098
Form 1098, or the Mortgage Interest Statement, is sort of like your home’s W-2: a one-stop shop for your possibly two biggest tax breaks.
- Mortgage interest:Â “The biggest real estate tax deduction for most people will be the interest on their home loan,” according toÂ Patrick O’Connor of O’Connor and Associates. Single people can deduct the full interest up to $500,000; for married couples filing jointly, the limit is $1 million if you purchased a house before Dec. 15, 2017. If you bought a home after that date, you will be allowed to deduct the interest on no more than $750,000 of acquisition debtâthat’s a loan used to buy, build, or improve a main or secondary home. (Here’s more on how your mortgage interest deductionÂ can help you save on taxes.)
- Property taxes: This is the second-biggest deduction for most homeowners. Just remember the total amount you can deduct is $10,000, even if you pay way moreâand that includes state and local income tax, property tax, and sales tax. (Here’s how to calculate your property taxes.)
You might be eligible for other real estateârelated deductionsÂ andÂ tax credits, but these are the biggies for most people. If you’re down to the wire on filing, you might just deduct these two and call it a day.
Just remember to make it worth your while. These numbers need to add up to more than the current standard deduction, which jumped to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.
Tip No. 2: File an extension
If you still need more time to get your taxes together, itâs totally simple and penalty-free to file for an extension until Oct. 15. But donât get too excited; the IRS still requires you to pay your estimated tax bill by July 15, or else youâll pay interest on what you owe down the road.
The IRS makes it easy to file for an extension, either onlineÂ orÂ by mail. On the form,Â just estimate how much tax you owe. If you’re filing an extension because you need more time to figure out yourÂ itemized deductions, one easy shortcut is to just take the standard deduction nowâor the same amount you claimed last year. All in all, it’s better to overestimate what you owe, because then you won’t pay any interest. Once you file for real, anything you’ve overpaid will come back to you.
But what if you need an extension because you can’t pay your tax bill? It’s still better to file for an extension with fuzzy numbers than to not file at all.
The IRS has payment plansÂ that can help if you are short on cash.Â Just fileÂ somethingâblowing the deadline entirely will open you up to penalties as well as interest on your bill. And maybe an audit, too.
Tip No. 3: Hire someÂ help
If you make less than $69,000 a year, you qualify to use free tax prepÂ software from the IRS. Even if you make more than that, there are lots of free or low-costÂ online tax prepÂ options that should work for anyone with relatively straightforward taxes.
Of course, another option is to find yourself a good accountant.
If paying for a tax preparer sounds extravagant, keep in mind that, according to the U.S. Tax Center, the average cost of getting your taxes done is only $225. This, generally speaking, is money well-spent.
A good accountant can actually save you money by spotting deductions you might notÂ have found on your own, and helping you plan to minimize the next year’s taxes. All in all, that may add up to the best few hundred bucks you’ve ever spent!
Another timesaver: Rather than snail-mailing your accountant your tax forms, snap pictures of them on your smartphone; some apps like CamScannerÂ can do so with scanner-style quality. Accountants don’t need the originals to file.
For next year, remember to prepare
OK, so this year you waited too long and stressed yourself out. If you don’t want a repeat ordeal next year, now is also the time to mend your ways and start tax prepÂ early.Â Nobody wants to be thinking about taxes all year, of course. But as a homeowner, you can do some things to be better prepared.
So before you do any home maintenance, upgrades, or renovations, research whether there are any tax deductions you could be eligible for.
Start now, and you’ll be sitting pretty to collect on all the various tax perksÂ that come with owning a home rather than pulling out your hair at the last minute.
The post Don’t Panic! 3 Money-Saving, Last-Minute Tax Tips for Homeowners appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
A pay cut, whether big or small, can catch you off guardâand throw your finances into disarray. While a salary cut is different than a layoff, it can leave you feeling just as uncertain.
How do you deal with a pay cut and deal with this uncertainty?
There are strategies to help you navigate both the emotional and financial challenges of this situation. One key element? A budget. Whether you need to create a budget from scratch or adjust the budget you already have, doing so can help you get back on your feet and set yourself up for success.
Hereâs a rundown of budgeting tips to survive a pay cut to keep your finances intact:
Ask your employer for the parameters of the income reduction or salary cut
First, keep in mind that a pay cut typically isnât personal. According to Scott Bishop, an executive vice president of financial planning at a wealth management firm, businesses often cut salaries to preserve their cash reserves while they stabilize their cash flow or weather some larger economic impact, like the coronavirus pandemic.
Secondly, make sure you understand the full scope of the salary cut. Bishop suggests you ask your employer questions like:
- What is the amount of pay being cut?
- Why is pay being cut?
- When will the reduction begin, and how long will it last?
- Will any of the following be affected?
- 401(k) match
- Healthcare or insurance costs
- Employer-sponsored training or continuing education opportunities
- Hours or job responsibilities
- What are the long-term plans to improve the companyâs financial situation?
Once youâve painted the full scope of what and why, you can determine how to handle the pay cut.
âFor some people who are big savers, it might not be a big deal,â Bishop says. âBut for some people who live paycheck to paycheck, itâs going to be significant.â
Settle any anxieties that might come with a salary cut
If you are dealing with financial stress, try settling your mind and emotions so you can make decisions with a clear head.
âThe emotional and mental toll can be one of the hardest parts,â says Lindsay Dell Cook, president and founder of Budget Babble LLC, which provides personal finance and small business financial counseling. âIt gets even harder if there are others depending on your income who are also financially stressed.â
When sharing the news with family members who may also be impacted, Cook suggests the following:
- Find the right time. Pick a time of day during which everyone will have the highest mental capacity for the conversation. âFor instance, I am a morning person, so if my husband told me at bedtime about a pay cut, I would have a much harder time processing that information,â Cook says.
- Frame it as a brainstorming session. Bring ideas of what you can do to handle the pay cut, such as a list of expenses you can cut or a plan for how you can make extra income.
- Empathize with the other person. âReduced income is not easy for anyone. Everyone responds to financial anxiety differently,â Cook says.
“If youâre unable to maintain your previous level of saving after a pay cut, try to save at a smaller scale for goals like retirement and your emergency fund.”
Create or adjust your budget to handle a pay cut
Once you understand the salary cut and have informed your family or roommates, itâs time to crunch the numbers. Thatâs the first step to figuring out how to save money after a pay cut.
If you donât have a budget, find a budgeting system that fits your needs. Learning how to effectively budget takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself if youâre new to this. Cook suggests reading up on how to create a budget.
One system to consider is the 50-20-30 budget rule, which has you break your spending into three simple categories. If you prefer the aid of technology when determining how to handle a pay cut, there are many budgeting and spending apps that can help you manage your money.
Whether youâre handling a pay cut by creating a new plan or modifying an existing budget, Bishop suggests taking the following steps:
- Add up your income. Combine your new salary with your partnerâs pay, and factor in any additional income streams like from dividends or savings account interest. Tally up the total.
- List your expenses. Be sure to include essential expenses (e.g., housing, food, clothing, transportation) and nonessential expenses (e.g., entertainment, takeout, hobbies).
- Look through your bank statement online and your past receipts so all expenses are included.
- Account for infrequent expenses such as gifts, car maintenance or home repairs.
Cut expenses with budgeting tips to survive a pay cut
If youâve crunched the numbers and found that your expenses add up to more than your new income, youâll need to find ways to cut back. Here are some tips on trimming your spending to survive a salary cut:
- Cut back on takeout meals and stick to a strict grocery list or food budget, Cook suggests.
- Avoid large discretionary purchases like a car during the duration of your pay cut, Bishop says.
- Negotiate with your utility companies or ask if theyâre providing forbearance options, Bankrate suggests. You can also ask your car insurance provider if it has additional savings for customers who are driving less, according to Bankrate.
If you think you might fall behind on rent or mortgage payments as youâre handling a pay cut, both Cook and Bishop agree that early, proactive communication is key. Be honest with your landlord or mortgage company. âDonât wait until youâre past due,â Bishop says.
The same applies for other financial obligations, such as your credit card bill. Youâll likely find those companies are willing to work with you through the rough patch.
Cook also suggests you look into municipal assistance programs as a budgeting tip to survive a pay cut. âMany cities have established rental assistance funds to help taxpayers meet their obligations during the pandemic,â she says.
Continue to save money after a pay cut
As you consider how to cut costs, take time to think about your long-term savings goals and how to save money after a pay cut. By cutting discretionary spending through your new budgetâwhat Bishop calls âcutting the fatââyou may have freed up income to maintain your good saving habits during this time. He says itâs important to do that before slowing down on savings.
If youâre unable to maintain your previous level of saving after a pay cut, Bishop suggests you try to save at a smaller scale for goals like retirement and your emergency fund.
As you work to save money after a pay cut, Cook recommends setting up automatic transfers to your savings account every payday based on the amount youâre able to put towards savings in your new budget.
âIf your savings account is at the same bank as your checking account, you can transfer those funds fairly easily,â she says. âSo the worst-case scenario is that you put too much money in savings and have to bring some back to checking. The hope, however, is that some or all of those funds transferred to savings remain there since that money is no longer in your checking account just waiting to be spent.â
Seek extra income sources after a salary cut
You should explore additional sources of income if you need more cash to cover essential expenses or if youâre looking for ways to save money after a pay cut.
Determine if youâre eligible for benefits based on the reason for your pay cut. Cook recommends applying for unemployment if you think you may qualify. For example, some workers who experienced pay cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic were eligible for unemployment benefits. The details vary by state, so visit your stateâs unemployment insurance program website to learn what benefits may apply to you.
If you or your partner have some extra time on your hands, you can consider bringing in income through a side hustle to help you handle your pay cut. Bishop suggests using free or low-cost online video tutorials to boost your existing skills to make your side hustle more effective.
Cook also recommends getting creative. âAre there things you could sell to make some extra cash?â she says.
If you are unable to find additional sources of income, but you have an emergency fund, consider whether you should dip into that. “Your savings are there for a reason, and sometimes you need to use it,” Cook says. “That is okay.”
Stick to your updated budget to navigate how to handle a pay cut
Making your budget part of your daily routine is a budgeting tip to survive a pay cut, and it will help you save money after a pay cut.
âBuild rewards into your budget, such as ordering out every other week if you successfully saved money after your pay cut.â
âIf youâre checking it daily, there are no surprises,â Cook says. You can do this by logging into your bank account and making sure your spending and expenses align with your digital or written budget document.
âIf you see that your spending is high, your mind will typically start thinking through [future] transactions more thoroughly to vet if those expenses are really necessary,â Cook says.
Donât forget the fun side of accountability: rewards for meeting your goals. Build rewards into your budget, Bishop says, such as ordering out every other week if you successfully saved money after your pay cut.
Lastly, donât try to go it alone. Enlist others in your budgeting journey, Cook suggests. Make up a monthly challenge to cut spending from a specific category in your new budget and ask your partner or a friend to do it with you. For example, see if you and the other participants can go a full month without buying clothes or ordering takeout. Compare notes at the end of the month and see how much youâve saved.
Another idea? Try connecting with a budget-minded community on social media to get inspired.
Take these steps after the salary cut is over
Once youâve handled the pay cut and your regular pay is restored, donât give up on your newfound budgeting discipline. Instead, focus on building up emergency savings before you go back to your normal spending.
Bishop recommends starting with enough savings to cover three to six months of expenses. âIf you spend $3,000 a month, that means you need to have $9,000 to $18,000 saved.â
This might also be the time to revisit your budget and build a more extensive financial plan with a CPA or financial advisor to account for all of your future goals. Bishop says that these can include a target retirement date and lifestyle; your estate planning, such as a will, trust and power of attorney; saving for a childâs college; and purchasing a home.
Bishop says reminding yourself why youâre budgeting and focusing on your financial goals can be similar to motivating yourself to stay physically fit. Goal-based motivation can keep you accountable.
Remember: You can survive a salary cut
Handling a pay cut is never easy, but you can get through this time. While youâre in the thick of it, focus on budgeting tips to survive a pay cut and staying positive. Seek help from others and follow up with your employer to make sure you are aware of any changing details regarding the pay cut.
Most of all, try to keep a long-term outlook. âRemember that it will not always be this way,â Cook says.
If youâre considering whether or not to tap into your savings to handle a pay cut, read on to determine when to use your emergency fund.
The post How to Handle a Pay Cut: Budgeting in Uncertain Times appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Things To Do While Stuck In Your Apartment During the Coronavirus Pandemic
By now, almost everyone in the country is under some kind of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders from government agencies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities stress that this is the main way to try to flatten the curve of new infections.
OK, so what can you do while cooped up in your apartment.Â The options arenât quite unlimited, but they are numerous. Take advantage of the space you have and undertake any activity that will be good for your mental or physical well-being. Hereâs a look at some of the most popular:
1. Do a jigsaw puzzle
This has become quite popular around the country, with people finishing a jigsaw puzzle and then posting a picture of it on social media. The more pieces, the better, say, 1,000 or more. How long youâll be able to do this to remain occupied depends on how many puzzles you have on hand, or how many times youâre willing to do the same puzzle over again.
If you donât have jigsaw puzzles, maybe you have a Rubikâs Cube or a book of crossword puzzles. You can also find crossword puzzles online and in your daily newspaper, if you still subscribe.
If you have a set of weights in your apartment, use them. Or maybe youâre a packrat and still have exercise routines on VHS tapes or DVDs. If not, there are plenty of routines you can find for free online.Â
If you can leave your apartment, go for a walk or a jog, as long as you observe the social distancing rules that are now the new normal. If you donât want to go outside, walk up and down a stairwell or walk up and down your hallway. Again, give others their personal space.
Short of that, you can go old-school and do crunches, sit-ups and push-ups on your floor. You can also do isometric exercises using a rolled-up bath towel. For a refresher on the techniques, check out these workouts you can do in your apartment and then get to work.Â
Whatever you chose, mix it up and keep it fresh as you stay in shape.Â
OK, the first two suggestions will put your mind and body to work. At some point youâll feel like being a couch potato, so why not catch up on a series youâve been meaning to watch on Netflix, Disney Plus or one of the many streaming services available? Youâve never had a better excuse than now.Â
âTiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madnessâ has become all the rage on Netflix. It was released in mid-March and has given people something to do in the age of coronavirus. It is a true-crime documentary television series about the life of former zoo operator Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
If thatâs not your thing, there are favorites such as âNarcos: Mexicoâ and âStranger Thingsâ on Netflix. If youâve already seen them, whatâs the harm in starting over? On Disney Plus you can watch âThe Mandalorian,â âStar Wars: The Clone Warsâ and âThe Simpsons.â
4. Spring cleaning
Itâs spring, and you have a lot of unexpected time on your hands. Nowâs a great time to get in some spring cleaning of your apartment. Cut through the clutter and organize your closet and dresser. Most importantly, regularly clean and disinfect important areas such as kitchen surfaces and appliances that are used often. You should also keep your bathroom clean.Â
5. Other stuff
There are plenty of other things you can be doing, such as catching up on your reading, playing a musical instrument, writing emails to friends and family and getting plenty of rest.
Read Things To Do While You’re Stuck In Your Apartment on Apartminty.