Many Americans today are concerned about their health, livelihood and finances — and for good reason. The coronavirus pandemic has caused fear and anxiety about health-care needs, businesses and industries to shutter and the global economy to tank.
To help you navigate this uncertainty, I've been talking to financial experts about some of your concerns. While it is best to speak to your own financial advisor and team of experts about your specific financial situation, these comments can provide some direction on what steps you might want to consider now.
Is our money safe in the bank right now? And if so, are the big banks, like Chase or Citi, safer than the smaller banks?
The key to making sure the money you have in the bank is truly safe is having insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. If your money is at an FDIC-insured bank, up to $250,000 of your deposit is typically covered at each institution.
Checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposits (CDs) at big banks, such as Chase and Citi, are FDIC-insured. Smaller brick-and-mortar, online and community banks may have that insurance on those accounts as well, but you should check.
To verify that your bank is covered, go to ""BankFind" on the FDIC website, or your financial institution will include the name under which they are listed with the FDIC at the bottom of their website.
Federally-insured credit unions are also safe, as their funds are insured by the National Credit Union Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the U.S. government, administers that insurance, which provides up to $250,000 of coverage per depositor per institution. Some credit unions have purchased excess insurance to insure deposit accounts above that limit. Ask your credit union how much of your funds are insured. For a list of federally insured credit unions, go to NCUA.org.
Amazon announced it's hiring an additional 100,000 new workers. What other industries or companies will increase hiring during this time?
Grocery stores, pizza chains, shipping companies, warehouse operators, as well as major retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, are all hiring.
Kroger is hiring 10,000 people for its grocery stores and distribution center.
Stop & Shop is also hiring, in New York and New England.
PepsiCo plans to hire 6,000 new "full-time, full-benefit frontline employees across the U.S. in the coming months."
Medical-supply companies also need more workers to keep up with increased demand.
To get workers on the job quickly, some companies are speeding up the process, screening candidates virtually and making preliminary offers without an in-person meeting.
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My dad may not live through 2020 due to illness, and he is losing his life savings in this crash. Should he cash out? Or should the money be left where it is and go to his kids and hopefully recover from this financial disaster?
This is a very personal decision for your father and your family.
Anyone looking to "cash out" and sell their investments at this time should reevaluate their financial obligations before making a sudden move.
In your case, if your father needs money to cover medical bills and other expenses — and does not have cash savings to cover these costs — then he may need to sell some investments. If he doesn't desperately need the money, he should not cash out.
Financial advisors will tell you again and again that selling stocks in a down market locks in losses. You may be cringing as your account balances plunge, but you also may still have a profit in some investments. You'll face a tax hit when you sell those profitable investments that are in a taxable account.
If your father decides to leave his assets to his children, he should make sure to have the proper estate-planning documents in place. He may want to consider setting up a special trust — an irrevocable one — to ensure assets pass directly to his heirs and do not incur estate taxes.
You shouldn't make any decisions without consulting a team of experts — a financial advisor, accountant and estate-planning attorney.
Find a financial advisor in your area through the Financial Planning Association or National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to discuss your family's financial situation. The AICPA website can help find a certified public accountant. Find an estate-planning attorney through the National Association of Estate Planners and Counsel and American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
I'm over 70 and have to take a mandatory distribution from my 401(k), which was based on the high stock markets last December. I'm concerned that unless that number is now readjusted, my 401(k) will not last me through my retirement years. Is there any discussion about addressing this issue, given the drastic drop in the value of the 401(k)s?
You may have started taking a required minimum distribution a few years ago at age 70 ½. Under the SECURE Act, which was passed into law in December 2019, the age to start taking the required distribution increased to age 72.
What remained the same is the rule that if you don't take, or take less than, the full required distribution, you'll be subject to a hefty 50% penalty tax on the amount that was supposed to be taken but wasn't. So if you're supposed to take out $20,000 and you don't, you'll owe the IRS $10,000.
Many older Americans are concerned that the dramatic drop in the stock market has wiped out their retirement savings, leaving them uncertain about whether they'll have enough money for their lifetime. The last thing many retirees want to do is be forced to take a certain amount of money out of their retirement accounts when their balances are so low. Like you, they want to see that number adjusted.
After negotiations this weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a revised version of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which would include a temporary waiver of required distribution rules for 2020 for defined contribution plans, including 401(k)s and IRAs. There is still a lot of wrangling on Capitol Hill, so we have to wait and see if that provision is in the final legislation.
If that provision doesn't make it into the new law, financial advisors suggest you take the required distribution and put it back in a taxable brokerage account. You don't have to spend it. Redeposit it in an investment account so that the money is going back in to work for you.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.