Finances, Covid-19, and Your Mental Health – Part 2

scams

Last week from two AB Korkor Foundation board members and financial experts shared some insights regarding the financial side of the Covid-19 health crisis and how this might impact your mental health. Take some time to read further thoughts from Bret Farris, Senior Advisor, BKD Wealth Advisors, and Andy Saeger, Director, Private Wealth Advisor, BMO Private Bank, as they provide expert advice on scams and other things for which you should be aware.

What type of scams should people be aware of?

Bret Farris (BF): “Financially, there’s going to be a lot of noise around how to get access to the massive stimulus package that was signed by the President last week. It’s important to start local with your information searches, as some of the resources are being directed at the state level (i.e. distribution of increased unemployment benefits), while some is coming directly from the Federal Government (i.e. stimulus checks). Still other benefits will be coming in the form of SBA loans from banks to small businesses to encourage them to retain their staff. It’s important to consider the source and know that most states have compiled the applicable information online.”

Andy Saeger (AS): “Scammers may try to access cash by using threats or making promises. You may be told you're about to be arrested by the IRS for nonpayment or that your Social Security number or Medicare coverage will be canceled if you don't make a prompt payment or provide your Social Security number. Another scam involves a phishing email intended to get personal information. The email may look like it is from your current financial institution asking to verify your account details. The other occurs when companies set up funds to be withdrawn automatically from your account usually after you agree to provide access to your account because a scammer claims to need it in order to give you lottery winnings.”

What are some good/credible resources for people to use right now, particularly if they are not working with a financial adviser? 

BK: “Right now, find support in sources you trust. There is simply too much noise. Don’t start Googling questions, it will just make things feel more uncertain and likely prompt more questions. If your job is secure, make sure you keep contributing to your savings vehicles and your rainy-day fund. If you are not working, either permanently or temporarily, reach out to creditors to see if you can have some grace on your bills, many are likely to give at least a month of relief. Even if you don’t have an advisor, you likely know someone with some element of financial experience - think investment firms, insurance companies, banks, local government, even the treasurer of your homeowners association, club or student organization. It’s important to think critically about money right now, but also understand that the last thing you should do is panic.”

AS: “If you don’t know anyone personally, there are some good online resources to consider. nerdwallet.com is one that I have heard good things about, and mint.com as a free financial tool that has good reviews.”

Any other thoughts, advice, information you think might be valuable?

BK:It’s so incredibly important right now to be kind, calm, and gentle. Not just to others, but to yourself. This is very difficult. Front line responders are putting their lives in peril every day to stop this. This is a war, where rather than being called to the front lines, most Americans are being called to their couch.

People are facing massive uncertainties that were unimaginable just a few short weeks ago. The markets will work themselves out eventually. This was not the result of massive endemic structural issues in the economy. What we are trying to do right now, on a federal, state and global level, is freeze the world long enough to get a handle on this thing, so we can all get back to doing what we love, with others, wherever we want. Look for the beautiful stories in the middle of the grim, those of hope, renewal, camaraderie, and teamwork. Find hope in whatever way you can right now, in whatever way you best respond. And, of course, stay home, stay safe, and take care of you.”

AS: Reach out to a financial professional you can trust to help guide you through these tough times and work together to build a financial plan. A financial plan can help determine how much you need to spend each year and what your appropriate asset allocation mix should be. Working with a financial professional will give comfort by providing discipline and having a plan in place will help take emotions out of investing.”

As an organization, the AB Korkor Foundation is dedicated to providing the best possible resources, not only in the midst of this national pandemic, but also as we walk through whatever life throws at us. We are so very thankful to these two respected financial professionals, for providing sound and compassionate advice in the midst of uncertainty. It is just another reminder that you are not alone.