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Retirement funds, savings, credit scores: Advice from a financial planner

Adam Van Wie is the owner of Van Wie Financial on the First Coast. He is sharing financial advice as people battle with money issues during the pandemic.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Money: It can cause stress during a normal year, but during the pandemic, families are facing financial challenges like never before. 

RETIREMENT FUNDS

Financial Planner Adam Van Wie, owner of Van Wie Financial, says retirement funds are recovering, and many of his clients are back to where they were before the pandemic.

He says try not to use your retirement money to pay the bills. 

“If it comes down to feeding your family or keeping a roof over your head versus touching that money then by all means you might have to do it," Van Wie advises.

SAVINGS

Van Wie says says it is a great time to look at your finances and figure out where you spend your money. Start by making a budget. 

“For whatever reason, doesn’t matter how much money you have, people are very very reluctant to set a budget for themselves and then to really track themselves against that budget," Van Wie said, "Now more than ever it is just so important to sit down and see where you are spending your money.”

He says people often find that they’re spending hundreds of subscriptions and it’s an easy expense to cut out.

How do you make a budget? There are free tools online by finance experts like Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and Van Wie has a radio show that you can listen to. 

Van Wie says an easy way to save money is to cut back on your lifestyle like buying coffee every morning or shopping. He suggests carefully tracking every purchase you make in order to see how it adds up and where you can cut back.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Van Wie says if you’re eligible for unemployment benefits right now because of COVID-19 hardships, apply and get help.

“Some people a sense of embarrassment or shame in doing that. Don’t. That’s what it’s there for to get you through this hard time," he says. 

WHICH BILL DO I PAY FIRST?

If you find that your bills are stacking up and you have to charge the credit card, Van Wie advises that as long as you make that minimum payment every month, your credit score won’t be drastically impacted.

He also suggests ranking your bills by priority. Florida's eviction moratorium is still in place until September. The governor has extended it multiple times. You may be able to hold off on rent if that means you can pay your other bills. 

Van Wie says your utilities and cellphone bills may take priority.

STUDENT LOANS

Van Wie says you can put a pause on paying off your student loans if you need to right now. It's called automatic forbearance. That's when the lender allows you to not pay for a couple of months due to economic hardship. 

According to StudentAid.gov, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27th, "providing, among other things, broad relief for federal student loan borrowers. As outlined in the CARES Act, both the suspension of loan payments and the temporary 0% interest rate on loans owned by ED are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2020." 

You can learn more about that here.

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