2021 is here, but there are traces of 2020 still around. Especially when it comes to our finances. There are three areas that will have you feeling like 2020 is still here, but I want to help you deal with them so that there are no financial surprises.

Those With Student Loans:

Although the latest stimulus bill has passed it has nothing in it extending the grace period for student loans. If you have federal student loans January 31st is the last day you have 0 payments, 0 interest, and no wage garnishments. During January you need to reach out to your loan servicer to find out when your payment will be due in February and how much that payment will be.

If you have private student loans and federal student loans now is the time to plan for the amount of money you will need in order to pay both payments in order to stay current. Unless the department of education extends the current January 31st deadline you will need to be prepared to start paying back the debt.

Those Who Are/Were Unemployed:

2020 unemployment looked a lot different than any other year because of the CARES Act that provided super charged unemployment benefits. Those who were unemployed were eligible for their regular unemployment benefits, but also were able to receive an extra $600 per week. That extra $600 per week in most cases provided individuals with more money than they usually make each month.

This can become an issue during tax time. If you made more money because of the extra $600 per week you could have a reduced refund check, no refund, or even owe money. In order to be ready for any of these scenarios make sure to have some money saved just in case your taxes give you a financial surprise. If you are still unemployed, now is the time to get your information into the unemployment office to make sure everything goes smoothly for the extra $300 per week that has been approved in the latest stimulus bill.

Those Who Are Business Owners:

There is a new round of Paycheck Protection Program funding for small business owners thanks to the passing of the latest stimulus package. There are two groups that qualify for the funding. Those who did not get PPP the first round and those who did get the money the first round, but saw a 25% decrease in business. Both groups can apply. There is one difference in PPP funding for restaurants this round and that is restaurants can apply for 3.5 times the monthly payroll costs compared to all other businesses can only apply for 2.5 times their payroll costs. If this will be your first time applying for PPP you need to do the following:

1. Attend PPP webinars provided by the SBA/HUB offices so that you can fully understand what the requirements are for PPP.

2. Reach out to your bank or credit union to inquire about the paperwork and documents needed to make the process go smoothly.

3. Be prepared to work with alternative PPP servicers if your financial institution takes too long. Those servicers during the first round of PPP were CDFI’s, Paypal, Square, Intuit, and many others.

2020 as the year may be gone, but the financial effects from it will still be felt this year especially during the first half of the year!

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Other ways to stay in the know when it comes to your finances!

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International Financial Literacy Speaker and Author

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