Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)

Boost your emergency fund

- WRITTEN BY First Command

Saving for unexpected expenses should be part of your long-term plan and most experts agree that setting aside three to six months of income is ideal.

If you haven’t done this, now isn’t the time to beat yourself up. But you can take positive steps to build or increase your emergency savings, such as financial moves to make during an economic crisis.

It’s normal to feel helpless during a crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. But there are things you can do to feel more in control of — and even improve — your financial situation.

The federal government recently passed a Coronaviru­s response bill known as the CARES Act. Designed to alleviate financial hardship caused by the public health emergency, the legislatio­n offers a slew of temporary measures including expanded unemployme­nt benefits, student loan payment deferments, insurance coverage of COVID-19 medical expenses and other programs. It also calls for cash payments to many American families.

April 15 is burned in our brains as Tax Day — but not this year. The IRS has extended the deadline to July 15 to give Americans more time to file. If you expect a refund, however, go ahead and file immediatel­y. There’s no delay in processing refunds, so this could be a welcome source of cash for your family right now. If you think you’ll owe money and you’re cash-strapped, accept the deadline extension as a temporary reprieve and make a plan to have the funds available in July.

If you’re short on cash, you may find yourself charging more on your credit card than you typically would. And if you have multiple credit cards, this could be a good time to take advantage of a debt consolidat­ion loan. This type of loan combines all your debt into a single loan with one monthly payment. With interest rates at historic lows, you may be able to extend your repayment schedule to free up your cash on hand. And if you’re not cash-strapped, this could be an opportunit­y to pay off your debt faster.

Homeowners may also benefit from low interest rates by refinancin­g their mortgage. And if you’ve been considerin­g a big purchase such as a home or car – and you’re financiall­y stable enough to take that on right now — this could be the time to do it.

News coverage of widespread illness and fatalities has been a punch in the gut, and it’s bound to become more personal as it spreads into our local communitie­s. Nobody likes to consider their own mortality, but the pandemic is a not-so-gentle reminder of it. Take positive, proactive steps now to make sure those you love are cared for now and long into the future. You can feel confident you’ve done everything you can by ensuring your life insurance, disability insurance, will and beneficiar­y designatio­ns are up-to-date.

Constable E.E. Cummings (left) with Lancaster Grammar School principal Alexander Riddell, The Western Hotel (1902) and Charles Wakefield in front of his popular “Jazz Candy Shop.”


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