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Making the Most of National Financial Literacy Month

April 8, 2020

April is National Financial Literacy Month, a time when American consumers can learn tips and tricks to help develop money management skills and good financial habits as well as set goals.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has made this year’s National Financial Literacy Month a little different—if not inconvenient--for millions of Americans who are facing financial setbacks, unemployment, and many other struggles.

Thinking about finances can bring up a range of emotions and raise a lot of questions. However, resources are available to help people of every income level achieve financial wellness.

For those who are financially impacted by COVID-19, there is help available.

A $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package includes Economic Impact Payments to taxpayers. These payments include $1,200 to individuals earning under $75,000 a year. A married couple earning under $150,000 a year will receive $2,400 plus $500 for any child listed as a dependent on their income tax form. Payments phase out as income rises above $75,000. Individuals earning more than $75,000 a year and married couples earning more than $150,000 a year will also receive payments, but the amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 of income over the threshold.

The payments are based on income from 2018 or 2019 tax returns, and checks are expected to be mailed or deposited electronically in your personal bank account (which is on file from your last tax return filing). Funds are reportedly being distributed beginning early to mid-April.

When considering what to do with a stimulus payment, it's important to prioritize essential expenses that keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and other necessities.

Even if you continue to receive a paycheck from your job and don't anticipate trouble paying your rent or mortgage, it's a good idea to save the funds to protect yourself from future economic setbacks. Adding to or building an emergency savings fund—especially one with a high interest yield—is a strong move that will ensure you are making the most of your savings.

Indiana is currently under a state of emergency, which prohibits providers of essential utility services, such as gas and electric, broadband, telecom, water and wastewater services from discontinuing service to any customer during the emergency.

If further consumer assistance is needed, Centier has solutions for clients available at centier.com/coronavirus.

If you've experienced job loss, now is the time to apply for unemployment. Due to the pandemic, The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has closed all its WorkeOne centers statewide. Individuals must now apply for unemployment benefits online at unemployment.in.gov. You can also call 800-891-6499 or email AskUIContactCenter@dwd.IN.gov for assistance.

The good news is that payments and the time that a person can receive unemployment have been expanded. Under the stimulus package, workers will be paid an additional $600 per week on top of what they would normally receive for up to four months until July 31.

Unfortunately, financial distress for many people is only increasing as they feel the impact of COVID-19. It also is raising questions for small business owners wondering about how to qualify for and access the financial relief provided by the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Financial wellness—even during an economic crisis is not out of reach. Even though it’s not the ideal time to focus on long-term financial goals, there are resources and options available to keep you as financially healthy as possible until it’s time to rebuild.

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