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Worried about your financial security? Here’s how to cope with a job loss spurred by COVID-19

Worried about your financial security? Here’s how to cope with a job loss spurred by COVID-19

FINANCIAL NEWS

Worried about your financial security? Here’s how to cope with a job loss spurred by COVID-19

Jessica Menton
 
| USA TODAY
COVID-19: Who is unemployed? The unemployment rate explainedJob loss numbers skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not everyone was counted as unemployed. Here’s how the unemployment rate is measured.Just the FAQs, USA TODAYLindsey Cassell was devastated when she lost her dream job as a recruiter at a staffing agency in April.“Getting laid off was so awful,” say Cassell, 27, whose company cut her when recruiting dried up during the pandemic-fueled recession last year. “I was worried about money, but I also felt like I didn’t have a purpose.”Anxious and sad, she was worried about the trajectory of her career and future nest egg with her fiancé as they prepared for their wedding this June.More stimulus?: Here’s how a Biden plan could impact wages, direct payments and unemployment checksDirect payments: Keep a lookout for your second round of stimulus that may show up on a blue Visa cardSo with an educational background in business administration, she took a leap of faith over the summer and started her own business as a money coach at Your Money BFF, a service that provides a six-week educational course on personal finance.Now she is bringing in about $3,500 a month, which is less than her previous salary but enough to live off, for now, she says. “I never dreamed I’d be unemployed. I didn’t want to have this feeling again of being laid off and feeling worthless,” says Cassell, who lives in Orange County, California. “Being a part of helping people with financial solutions is super rewarding.”Cassell wasn’t the only one concerned about the state of her savings during the pandemic.More than two-thirds of workers are worried about their financial security after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to cut or deplete their emergency savings following a historic wave of job losses, according to a new survey from Prudential Financial. A lack of retirement and emergency savings, along with too little invested in the stock market, has kept workers from becoming financially secure, the report showed. Why? Workers had too many expenses and debt to manage, as well as a lack of knowledge about investing, according to Rob Falzon, vice chair at Prudential Financial. One in five of the survey’s respondents has fallen behind on paying bills or had their household income decreased by half since the pandemic began.“It’s affecting all American workers, but it’s obvious when you look at both the impact from the pandemic itself and the economic repercussions that there are portions of society much harder hit across a socioeconomic and racial divide,” Falzon says.To be sure, many Americans weren’t in good financial shape heading into 2020, before COVID-19 battered the global economy, he adds. More than half of workers say the recession last year made them realize they weren’t financially secure to begin with. “Any crisis reveals where there are flaws in the system,” Falzon says. In general, American workers report their job security, financial security and stress have gotten worse or stayed the same in the last year. Nearly 70% of workers say the pandemic has intensified their concerns about their financial security. The concern is even higher among workers without access to employee benefits, with more than 7 in 10 workers without benefits worried about their financial security. Two-thirds of workers say benefits have become a more important part of how they view their overall compensation, and that employer-provided benefits are more important to them now than before the pandemic.The Pulse of the American Survey was conducted by Morning Consult in November with 2,000 self-identified employed adults, including furloughed workers and those unemployed in the past six months who were actively looking for work.How to copeThe nation has recovered 12.3 million, or about 56%, of the 22.2 million jobs wiped out in the health crisis.Despite the economic fallout, more than half of Americans are optimistic about their finances in 2021 as the economy enters a recovery, with two-thirds expecting to achieve a delayed financial milestone, according to a recent survey conducted by Credit Karma.One-third of respondents aim to start an emergency fund, the study showed, after roughly 30% had to draw on their savings during the pandemic to make ends meet.About 43% of Americans picked up a new financial habit as a result of COVID-19, and 94% plan to continue that habit in 2021. The most popular include setting a budget, cutting spending, starting to save, tracking credit scores more closely and learning about investing.”People want to know what their financial wellness is right now. So start a financial plan and figure out how much money you want to set aside,” says Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma. “Once you develop good habits, you’ll want to continue that positive trend.”Here are some things to keep in mind:Give yourself time to grieveMourning a job loss is natural, especially if it was a large part of your identity. To combat feelings of anger and sadness, seek support through friends and family, or consider low-cost therapy options and virtual support networks, experts suggest. Reinvent YourselfA job loss can be an opportunity to brush up on skills and look for part-time work. It can also be an opportunity to redefine career goals or entrepreneurial aspirations. Be sure to connect with recruiters to stay in the loop about job prospects, experts say.Start an emergency fundConsider your financial well-being. If possible, set money aside for unexpected costs or loss of income for health problems, unemployment or a reduction in work hours or pay. Personal finance experts recommend stashing away three to six months’ worth of emergency savings based on monthly living expenses including housing, food, insurance, transportation and debt payments.Create a budgetSet up automatic withdrawals from a checking account into a savings account at least once a month and aim to save 10% or 20% of your income, experts say. If that’s too much, start with 1%.Cut spending & saveSift through your bank statements to calculate your monthly income and track your expenses. Some experts suggest following the 50/30/20 rule, a budget that divides expenses into three key categories: needs, wants, and savings or debt. Calculate how much money you can allocate to in each category.


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