Selling on eBay — The Best Gig in Town

It started with a YouTube video and a filter.

A little over a year ago, I took a chance and sold a filter on eBay. Little did I know it would become a passion, a source of income, and a life-altering endeavor.

I remember it vividly—it was the beginning of summer. My kids were home and the little town I live in was eerily quiet. A normal June day is socked in by fog, but on this day it was uncharacteristically warm and sunny. We had nothing to do, nowhere to be—time had finally slowed down and we were making the most of it by doing a lot of lounging.

That day, I remember seeing an add on Craigslist for a ”whole house” free pile. The occupants of the house were moving and they had pulled everything out to the yard. I loaded the kids into the car and we eagerly drove over.

My son immediately grabbed a couple of boxes of brand new nails. A filter, fully wrapped and unused, caught my eye. I’d just seen that video referencing ”parts of items.” I had no idea what the filter was used for. I grabbed it, feeling a bit guilty—I knew I would not use it, but I also knew that it would more than likely end up in the trash.

Since then, I’ve continued to grow and learn. I’ve tried to enjoy the process while pushing myself to sell more. My store is small but each month I try to commit just a bit more time to it.

I’ve really learned that this is something that goes full circle for me. I try to pick items that will likely end up in the landfill. Recycling is a huge motivating factor. Saving the money I earn through eBay is the other side of that coin—that money goes towards purchasing stock or at the very least my high-interest checking account.

I encourage everyone to try eBay—even if it is just to get rid of a few items that are weighing you down. Sending an object on to someone who really appreciates it is more than just financially rewarding!

if you’d like to visit my store, check it out here.

Have a Great Weekend,

Andrea

August Passive Income Report

There’s nothing like passive income—after all who doesn’t want to make money while they sleep?

In 2018 I began this journey intent on making my money work for me. Since then, I’ve learned it is well worth the effort to set up a system of spending that gives back in the most advantageous way to you. Some like to accrue travel points on their credit card but I’m all about cash. Each month I’d like to continue making more money passively and show you the small ways that you can also increase your income—it might seem like pennies at a time—but those pennies add up.

The term ‘passive income’ has a few slightly different definitions, but in my case, I am simply sticking to that income which comes from credit card cashback, interest, and dividends from stock. This is money that ”just comes to me” by way of how I’ve set up my spending and saving. Don’t get confused, however—this is not money that fell out of the sky—this money came after thorough research and some risk-taking.

DIVIDENDS

During the month of August, I received $89.69 in dividends. Below, along with each stock, I have the amount of dividend income I made in August, how many shares I own, and the total amount of money I have invested in the stock. I’ve had a stock account for many years, but it was not ”doing anything” because I was playing it safe by keeping all my money in the bank. Then I took the initiative to remove my savings from a CD in 2018 and put that money into the stock market. To say I was afraid is an understatement. But, no matter, the decision paid off. Just to give you an idea—I made somewhere around $20.00 per year with $20,000.00 invested in my CD. Here is what I made in one month with the stocks I purchased for a total investment of approximately $12,000.00.

Stock AugustDividend Total Shares Money Invested

ATT (T) $31.20 60 shares $1800.00

Verizon(VZ) $6.15 10 shares $590.00

Green Plains Partners LP (GPP) $24.00 200 shares $1000.00

American Express (AXP) $4.30 10 shares $980.00

Realty Income (O) $9.34 40 shares $2300.00

Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC) $5.31 531 shares $3200.00

LTC Properties Trust (LTC) $1.90 10 shares $470.00

Invesco Exchange S&P 500 (SPHD) $7.49 50 shares $1700.00

Most of these stocks are paid quarterly, but the REIT’s: ‘O’ stock, LTC, and SPHD are paid out monthly.

Bank Interest

After moving my money out of that miserable CD at my local brick-and-mortar bank, I started to notice banks with very high-interest rates. Definitely, you can get a higher percentage rate inside a good bank account than a CD. It is a huge misconception that a CD is the way to go. It’s like we are practically gaslighted into believing a bank account cannot pay us more—this is despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. Often, a high-interest bank account comes with some hoops to jump through, but I think it is worth the effort. I keep some cash in my neighborhood bank, but then I transfer money to my online bank where I get 2% interest. This month I received $33.37 in interest. I keep as much as I can in that bank until I need it for big expenditures like property taxes at the end of the year.

Credit Card Cashback

In my last post, I talked about my favorite credit card: The American Express Blue Card. The American Express Blue Card gives the following:

*6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.
*6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
*3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
*1% Cash Back on other purchases
Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

AmEx has additional benefits and perks—most notable being the $5.00 ”Small Shop” credit for spending $10.00 or more at approved small businesses (I had 4 of these for a total of $20.00 at the time of my bill. So with those credits and the regular cashback credits, my August total was $104.83. I should note, that this amount fell under half of July and half of August because my billing cycle ends mid-month. Also, the small shop credit benefit ended mid-Septemer.

Adding all three up, I earned a total of $227.89 in the month of August. Not bad, but I’ll keep tracking my expenses and looking for ways to not only increase my passive income—but also find ways to invest it in the future.

Have a Great Week!

Andrea

American Express: The BEST Credit Card

If you know me well, you know how much I love my American Express “Blue Cash Preferred” Credit Card. But, it just keeps getting better—through mid-September, American Express allows cardholders to sign up for ”small shop” credits for a maximum of $50.00 in credits. I didn’t really know how these would actually work until I looked at my account—and I’ve received four credits already.

It’s simple—sign up and receive $5.00 each time you shop at a designated ”small shop.” Now, before I get too excited, let me say I did have difficulty finding out exactly what stores or businesses were considered small in my area. In fact, I ended up losing time and so, because it was free I went ahead and signed up and used my card as I regularly do—which is probably a good approach, because you definitely don’t want to shop just to get the $5.00 credit—that would be missing the point.

I was pretty excited to see four credits equaling a total of $20.00 less than a month. Each credit was immediately applied to my card. Two of the credits came after visiting my dentist, and two were given after shopping at my local grocery store.

I was excited, but not completely surprised.

American Express is the best, after all.

The funny thing is that I don’t often see AmEx listed as a favorite when I research credit cards online. But, I’m here to tell you it is. In fact, you may consider yourself attached to cash, your debit card, or another credit card, but after I show you how great American Express is, you may be persuaded to apply.

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred has a $95.00 yearly charge, but it’s worth every penny. When I signed on that charge was waived for the first year and I think I even received a $200.00 credit if I spent $1000.00 in 90 days. ( Currently AmEx is offering $250.00 back if you spend $1,000.00 within three months). This was not hard—I simply used the card for everything from fuel to groceries and everything in between. What sold me in the beginning? Let me count the ways:

*6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.
*6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
*3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
*1% Cash Back on other purchases
Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Okay, so let’s add it up. The 6% back on $6,000.00 is $360.00. So, just the grocery credit alone more than covers the yearly $95.00 fee.

Then, there’s the 3% back on fuel. I don’t drive much, so I’d say that I only make $3.00 to $5.00 per month using the card, but over a year that adds up to probably at least $60.00 and of course, if I travel, that leans closer to $100.00 or more per year.

Finally, I make 1% on everything else I purchase.

As of this writing I have earned $293.58 in reward money. I truly believe that your money should be making money and this is one way that you can collect funds that you can later invest.

American Express has a lot of other features such as their ‘Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee’ and a free subscription to Shoprunner which gives you free 2-day shipping and returns to a host of online stores such as Peets Coffee. Using AmEx will provide you with additional protections including theft protection, car rental loss and damage insurance and return protection. They offer perks such as their current 10% back on Starbucks up to $5.00 incentive and the more useful, $10 back on $40 at Advance Auto Part.

One thing that I cannot neglect to comment on is the importance of using a credit card rather than a bank card. A bank card uses money that is available in your bank while a credit card is paid later—an advantage to you in the event that a purchase did not go as planned or, even worse, if your card is stolen. If you lose a credit card it is much easier to negotiate with a credit card company—before you pay your bill— than it is with your bank.

As for cash—stuff it under your mattress. Once you spend cash you have no backup, no real record, and definitely your money is not making money. But be warned, credit card companies make it very enticing to spend—so, use your card with a cash mindset to keep your financial choices working for you.

AmEx does have a really cool referral program: if you apply using the link below, I can get $100.00 in cash credit if you are approved, so I’ve included a referral link below.

Thanks, and have a great week!

Andrea

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!

http://refer.amex.us/ANDREPOt0T?xl=cp15

Do I Really Want This?

Creating goals involves elimination. Why do we forget that? When I think about my goals, I immediately imagine long scrolls of lists and overwhelming amounts of work. I seldom ask myself specifically—do I really want this?

The first thing you absolutely must do while creating a goal structure is eliminate elements that aren’t necessary or interesting to you.

In my last post I mentioned my garden. I have a pretty large space to work in and I’ve always dreamed of a lush edible garden. This spring I had a jolt of excitement—and impulsive plant shopping. But then the zucchinis grew and the spaghetti squash spread. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a squash eater. I do take the zucchinis and shred them for muffins so that works out. I’ve even gotten good about freezing the shreds for later use. The spaghetti squash is, I’m sure, delicious, but I’ve got so many of them.

Did I say I’m not much of a squash eater?

I know, I can give them to people but the point is: shouldn’t I be spending my time on things I actually want?

Now. Now, is a time like no other. With online ordering and information at our fingertips, we can learn about almost anything. We don’t have to settle for low brow goals that don’t fit who we are. We can focus on a few things that are truly interesting to us.

I recently noticed a photo of a friend on Facebook. He stood by a tree and he’d typed a simple caption: ”this year my goal is to learn to prune and maintain this tree.”

Reading his little post adjusted my focus. I could picture a binder filled with notes on just that—the care of his tree. It wasn’t too hard to imagine the addition of future trees and plants—all of which would most likely thrive using this straightforward plan. It didn’t hurt to know that this is one of my most productive and creative friends.

His post also reminded me that we do not have to have long, intimidating goals and that our goals should, like those trees, be pruned to their essentials. One tree that is well-cared for is tangible—and you’ll even have time left over to sit under it and enjoy it.

One Step at a Time: Expect Failure and Get Back on Track

Last night I pulled out a bag of red beans from the kitchen cabinet. Immediately I felt a sense of defeat.

You have to know that I love to garden and this year—during the coronaventure—I had a lot of extra time on my hands. Motivation was everywhere on social media—photos of lush greens, baskets full of fruits, newly raised beds, seemingly endless rows of cabbage, baby chicks, and, of course, I saw nothing but other people’s success. A lot of cute, pretty stuff and very little trials, tribulations, or outright failures.

At the beginning of the Coronavirus shutdown, toilet paper disappeared, along with rice and beans. Beans seemed like a logical choice for my future edible Garden of Eden.

I have developed a fondness for The Bean and I would love to grow long, twining plants of my own. I pictured lots of colorful beans clinking around in cute mason jars. I imagined my husband’s excited grin when I presented them to him. I could picture myself cooking them and I imagined how good they would taste.

So, I planted the beans I had, which was the small packet I got for free at the Seed Library inside my local library. They grew and grew, and then one day I noticed a pod. I let the pod grow a bit bigger and I picked it. I assumed that this was how beans were ‘done.’

But, au contrair. The bean pods I was picking were not the beans of my imagination. Inside the pod I found little puny beans that looked no bigger than a large pimple—hardly visible to the eye! Of course, I could not bring myself to find fault in my growing—or harvesting, as the culprit ultimately turned out to be—no, I decided that these tiny beans should be eaten raw.

Wrong again! Turns out the raw beans are toxic.

It’s enough to make you feel such defeat, that you flounder on the kitchen floor and decide to quit.

So where am I going with this?

The thing is, that we see other people, their photos, their success, and wonder why we are ”not there yet.” In a way, we hijack owr own experience and ruin the process from the start.

When I thought about it, I realized that in the beginning, I was full of optimistic excitement. I’m growing beans! I can do this! I had so much enthusiasm that I did not really learn how to care for or harvest the beans. It turns out that the beans have to grow on the plant much longer. They have to actually stay on the plant until they become dried out and the leaves of the plant turn yellow. All along, I was under the impression that I should be constantly picking the beans.

The bottom line was that I had not done my homework. I had gotten carried away into the ether of excitement. But, gardening, like most everything, takes knowledge—a lot more than we may realize when we begin. It also takes hard work and consistency—something we may know, but don’t want to acknowledge.

But, even more, my failure was just the beginning of my bean growing ‘journey.’ No, we do not see a lot of failure around us, but it exists—more than we know. If I had given up on my beans I would have not only allowed myself to succumb to failure, but I would not have learned anything at all.

Last time I wrote about ”why” I do what I do. I think it is important to have solid reasons for how you want to spend your time. Without a strong desire to accomplish a goal, the bottom tends to fall out and we are left with wasted time and energy. You know, do you really want to grow beans or are you just infatuated with the idea? We need that desire, but we also need to learn to check our expectations when we fail—and put in the energy to figure out how to get on track.

Once we have both of those ‘mindsets’ in place, we are ready to construct goals that are true and actionable.

Why I Do What I Do

As I drove out of the library parking lot yesterday, I saw a woman in a pretty VW Bug out of the corner of my eye. When I drove past, I could she her blond hair, tied up in a wild bun. Every nook and cranny of her car was filled to the brim.

You have to know that this area is a common resting spot for homeless people. The library, community center with an attached park, and a church are on a short cul-de-sac. Behind the library and opposite the church is a large open space—probably over 10 acres. The disenfranchised sleep and congregate in this somewhat ‘hidden’ area. There is plenty of parking space, particularly after hours. During the beginning months of the coronavirus, the county placed hand washing stations and toilets in the library parking lot for the homeless. I live in a small town and the number of homeless is not excessive or out of control. The issue is a constant topic but is more often approached from a genuine place of concern for these individuals than real worry for community safety.

No matter where you stand on the topic–one thing is clear: the coronavirus has exacerbated the homeless situation.

The woman in the car could be any of us.

Later in the day, I listened to professor Amna Akbar speaking about the ‘Cancel Rent Movement’ on NPR. According to Wikipedia, ”This movement advocates for the cancellation of rental payments and suspension of mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic.”

As someone who owns rental property, I was immediately alarmed. The rental income we make is a good and steady portion of our yearly income—success of a movement like this would affect my own finances. Yet, I’m torn—I understand that many people are struggling—and of course, I worry for the increasing number of homeless as this pandemic continues.

How do I sort this out?

Again, no matter your opinion on any of these subjects, the answer was loud and clear to me. We must assert ourselves into our own lives. We cannot stand around and wait for the next payment from the government. We must look ahead and plan.

I’ve been missing from this blog, hijacked by the news as it spins out of control, seeping into every dark corner of our current society. I don’t know what to make of it all—I’m pretty even and in the middle. I know that my individual life is vastly different from someone else’s experience. I’m just trying to find the truth somewhere. I listen to both sides of the political spectrum and both sides of often make sense to me. Then I catch what I would call ‘errors.’ Most incorrectness seems to come from ‘clickbait’ titles and a desire to push an agenda, or sweeping generalizations.

As the dust settles I am beginning to see clearly my own ”why.”

I’ve recaptured my goal.

I see it now. Without a vision of what we want to achieve, we tend to flounder. At the most extreme, we procrastinate and give up. A clear goal needs to be specific, but the before that, at the apex of your pyramid, so to speak, you need a clear reason behind your goal.

My reason is financial security. I don’t want a lot of money in the bank so that I can spend it on Prada or a new ‘Lambo’ (as my son calls it.) I’d like enough to pay for medical expenses if I need it. I want a healthy life in every way. All of this takes money. I’ve learned that it is hard to sleep at night if you are worried about money. There is a terror that comes with a low bank account that never seems to get higher—particularly if you are not employed in a regular, salaried job, particularly as your get older, particularly now, during an economic shutdown.

This new pandemic has changed the rules. We are now in the spin cycle and what was once a good career choice—dentist comes to mind—-may not be favorable at the moment. We can ask from our government, but we must also branch out and fend for ourselves. I visualize a tree with branches in all directions, reaching out to bring in nourishment.

I drove past that woman in her shiny, periwinkle-colored VW. Her hair, blond and highlighted—the kind that a salon had dipped their hands into and all of her things, crammed into every square inch of her car. She was young, younger than me. She could be anyone.

My reason is cemented: we must be prepared.

How I Finally Got Past ‘Payment Status Not Available.’

This a quickie update in reference to the post I wrote the other day that described my struggles getting information on the Stimulus Check. No matter how hard I tried, or how often I refreshed the IRS.gov website. I continued to get the error message, ‘Payment Status Not Available.’

I suspected that it was related to my taxes—and I assumed our accountant was in the middle of processing them. Turned out this was true. She finished them yesterday, I signed the documents via eDoc online, and low and behold I was able to get into the Get My Payment page of the IRS website.

Once inside, I could see it is a relatively simple form that asks for your AGI (adjusted gross income), the amount you owe or the refund you received. Then it asks for your bank routing number and account number. So GREAT!

Except, it found some inaccuracy—possibly our 2019 taxes were still moving along the pipeline. But, I did get a second message asking that I submit our 2018 tax information. Well, I didn’t have our 2018 taxe information because I’d given it to the accountant. And they’re very busy. And I didn’t want to bug them. I only needed two pieces of information–the AGI for that year and our refund amount, which had actually been rolled over to pay for our 2019 taxes.

So, earlier in the week, I had taken a little bit of time to ‘View my Account.‘ This is an option on the IRS.gov website that allows you to look at your previous payments and other IRS information. You have to set up a password and log in your basic information, address, name, social security number. I opened up the account in the hopes that I would not have to try to get through to my accountant and add to her workload. Inside your account there is an option to get a transcript. This is were you need to go. Right now, the only option is to view your transcript online. Luckily, my AGI was right there. I didn’t have to look for my refund amount because I had previously received an email from my old accountant that specified the amount.

With both bits of information in hand, I went back into Get My Payment and typed in the new numbers.

But, there was still a problem with the numbers and I could not proceed. UGH.

I tried a couple of more times as if the website would just give up because I was hounding it and then, it locked me out.

Of course.

Okay, so today I gave it a fresh start. Same answer. It asked for 2018 and then said that that did not match their information.

I thought about it for a minute. Then, in the section that asked the amount of my refund/payment, I put ‘0.’

Yes, zero.

I realized that, technically, we did not receive a refund because we rolled the money into the next year. So, literally we did not pay or get anything back.

Zero.

Suddenly, it came to life and said the money would be deposited to my checking account.

I stared at that sentence and the exit button below it, (which is, ironically, the same blue as the Get My Payment button) somewhat afraid to move.

But, then, I did, I pressed ‘Exit.’

I’ll keep you posted.

~~~Andrea

‘Payment Status Not Available’— Difficulties With The Economic Stimulus Check

Ugh.

Just when you think you will get a little treat in the form of an Economic Stimulus Check deposited into your bank account.

Then, you don’t.

No worries, you can wander over to the shiny new IRS website page. Click on the Get My Payment button, type in your information (your social security number or your address), and track your check.

it’s kind of like the Dominoes Pizza Tracker.

Except some people, myself included, are getting the message: “Payment Status Not Available.”

The answer to this, from the IRS website:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In certain cases, the Get My Payment app will be unable to tell you the status of your payment.  You may receive this message for one of the following reasons:

  • If you are not eligible for a payment (see IRS.gov on who is eligible and who is not eligible)
  • If you are required to file a tax return and have not filed in tax year 2018 or 2019.
  • If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info on IRS.gov. Your payment status will be updated when processing is completed.
  • If you are a SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient – the IRS is working with your agency to issue your payment; your information is not available in this app yet.
  • (updated information from IRS.gov as of April 17, 2020): You are required to file a tax return, but:
    • We haven’t finished processing your 2019 return
    • The application doesn’t yet have your data; we’re working on adding more data to allow more people to use it.
    • You don’t usually file a return, and:
      • You used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet
      • You receive an SSA or RRB Form 1099 or SSI or VA benefits; information has not been loaded onto our systems yet for people who don’t normally file a tax return

You can check the app again to see whether there has been an update to your information.  Get My Payment data is updated once per day, so there’s no need to check back more frequently.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Now what? Well, some people have been rechecking the site so often that they’ve actually been locked out. I rechecked ours a number of times too—even alternating between my social security number and my husband’s since we file jointly. But that did not work.

I then decided to ”view my account.”

I created an account, and just as I was feeling like I was getting somewhere, the site kicked me out with this message:

We’re sorry; this service is experiencing occasional errors. Please try again later.

Okay, so I try to go back in later…same problem, but different. I was not able to receive the ”text code.” Again. Bumped out.

Right now I can only assume that the glitches and problems logging on are related to excessive use by other concerned citizens who have nothing better to do than sit at home and keep checking and rechecking. Of course, I’m including myself in that motley group.

That’s what happens when you shutdown an entire population of people, I suppose.

Still, if you too are getting this message, it is important to note that the above list, from the IRS website, does give away some crumbs of information:

Ineligible

Some people are not going to get a Stimulus Check because they are considered ineligible. It may seem unfair (considering the rich also pay taxes) but still, at least it is obvious that those who are in a high-income category will not be given a check. After more digging, however, I found that there is a little dusty layer of hidden ‘ineligibles,’ that less obviously, will not be receiving a red cent. Students, or any adult, for that matter, over the age of 17, who are ‘dependents’ on their parents tax return, will not see any money at all—and neither will their parents. This is true whether the student worked or not, or if the adult is disabled.

Forgot to Filers

Here is the second reason that you may not have seen any cash: you forgot to file your paperwork.

In order for the IRS to determine how much to give you—and what account to put the money in—they need to have recent information. For this stimulus check they are taking information from either your 2018 or 2019 tax forms. If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, then they will use 2018 information. But, if you haven’t turned in either, and you don’t fall into the non-filer category, then you are behind, my friend. Ironically, the IRS allows you to file online for free.

Maybe not so ironically.

Just Under The Wire Filers

If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers.

This is where I think my own payment went awry. Things have been really backed up, we have a new accountant, and despite the fact that I gave our tax information to the accountant a month ago, she’s been hounded with piles of other work—most of it related to Covid-19. I haven’t emailed her yet—I don’t want to bug her. But, I suspect that she may just have filed our taxes and that puts us in the ‘recently filed your return’ category. Oh. Joy. Time to wait. Non-filers who just gave the IRS their bank information are waiting here too.

The Others

Those who receive SSA (Social Security Administration), RRB (Railroad Retirement Board), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) will receive money later in April, even if they don’t ordinarily file taxes.

Those who receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income) will see their check in early May.

  • If you are in this group, and have dependents under the age of 17, you will need to go to the non-filers tool to claim the $500.00 per child payment. You’ll need a valid Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number of each child to process the application.

Final Notes

If you are eligible for money, but the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, you will receive a paper check in the mail. These have not been mailed yet.

Those in the low-income category, including the homeless, (if they did not file taxes during 2018 or 2019) will need to provide the IRS with bank account or mailing address information through the “non-filers tool” on the IRS.Gov website.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while we all are expecting a $1200.00 check for each adult in the home, and $500.00 for each child, it doesn’t always add up that way if your income is in the higher-earning categories.

According to the Washington Post, many filers who used “H&R Block, TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt” did not receive their stimulus check because the way those companies process their payments. …”tax preparation companies received these people’s tax refund first, deducted their fees and then distributed the remaining refund to the customers. Because of that, the IRS had a “temporary bank account” on file that the tax preparer created for the 2019 tax season.”

The IRS is aware of the problem and working on resolving it.

Finally, the IRS will be sending out a letter approximately 15 days after you receive a payment. Keep you eye on the mail and if there are any discrepancies between what you have in your hot hand and what you think you should have received, there will be instructions included so that hopefully you can resolve those issues.

*Note: Watch out for scammers during this time! There are many ways that tricksters try to get your information. The IRS will not call, text, or email you. (In fact, I’ve been audited by the IRS a couple times and they are notoriously difficult to get ahold of.  You will either receive the money in the mail or in your account. You do not have to pay anyone for information or to receive your check. Beware.

 

Unemployment Benefits During the Coronavirus: Apply Now

Note: I’ve researched this quite a bit and the consensus is that whether you think you will be eligible for benefits or not, it is best to apply now. Eligibility requirements have been greatly reduced and additional money is now being provided at the federal level. The sooner you apply, the quicker you will receive financial help.

If you’ve lost your job, had reduced hours, or are getting that tingling feeling that you may need financial help during the coronavirus shutdown, your first step is to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment insurance provides cash benefits to citizens who have lost their job through ‘no fault of their own.’ The money originates from employers and is paid through taxes, held in a fund, which waits there for employees who need it.

The program is run by each state but governed by federal law.

During ordinary times, unemployment benefits are pretty straightforward—if you’ve lost your job and you were making a certain base amount of income,  you can apply for benefits. (Those in the severely low-income spectrum may not have earned enough to qualify for benefits). The amount you receive weekly is calculated by how much you were earning in the 18 months prior to losing your job.

The application process requires you to enter how much you earned during specific ‘quarters.’ You will need to have recent paystubs, or for those of us who earned varying amounts over the last year, you may need to go back and calculate your earnings to provide a representative picture of what you are not earning now.

Due to the coronavirus, the structure of the unemployment benefit program has become more flexible, lowering the eligibility requirements. Self-employed workers, freelancers, and those without an ’employer,’ are generally unable to claim benefits because funds are supplied by employers. With the CARES Act, however, that has changed.

Freelancers, self-employed workers,  gig workers, independent contractors, the self-employed, and 1099 workers are now eligible.

If you are affected at all by the covid-19, you are likely eligible.

Also, the general requirement to ”be searching for a job,” while you’re receiving unemployment benefits has been waived.

But, it gets better. An additional ”coronavirus stimulus package for unemployment”  will be provided by the federal government for up to 13 weeks. This is a significant $600.00 per week benefit on top of the amount you are qualified to claim through your state unemployment insurance program (which can last for up to 39 weeks). As an example, if you are eligible for $250.00 per week through your state unemployment program, you will also get $600.00 per week from the federal package, for a total of $850.00 per week.

The application process is relatively simple and can be done online (best option) or via telephone in an hour or less. Have your relevant information handy: social security number, driver’s license, pay stubs, bank statements, work addresses and phone numbers, and the last date you worked.

Find the unemployment insurance benefit application information for your state here: Unemployment Benefits by State

Below the drop down menu that allows you to search your state’s information, there will be separate links for general unemployment information,  the online application, the telephone application, and updates regarding unemployment due to the coronavirus.

The best option is the online application process. You will create a login (don’t forget it in the chaos).

Should your application be accepted, you will receive benefits within 3-6 weeks. But, considering the number of people applying, I would not be surprised if things take a bit longer than that.

On a final note, it is important to know that unemployment benefits are considered income.  Subsequently, you may owe taxes on your benefits at the end of the year. Be aware of this and put a percentage of this money away (preferably into a high-interest savings account) so that you don’t get stuck come tax time.

Please feel free to comment below with your own tips, experiences, and thoughts.

Andrea

Time to Take the Helm

It’s an uncommon spring break this year.

Not only are my kids (and I) untethered from the structure of ‘homeschool,’ but we’ve also been progressively restricted as to where we can go. Beaches and state parks have been closed and going to the grocery store has become a place for public shaming. STAY AT HOME is etched on the inside of my forehead. My current mental anxiety not only registers in the red zone because of  Covid-19—but perhaps, even more so, from the public judgment that seems to become more stringent with each passing day.

We all want to get this right.

To add to this, my husband, The Breadwinner is out of a job. He is a commercial fisherman and at the moment, the fishing industry is closed. Salmon season has yet to begin, but even more troubling is that the fishing council is proposing an ‘altered’ season—one in which fishing is allowed on a week-on, week-off basis in an effort to predict market needs. Unfortunately,  while this may sound like a reasonable step to take during these perplexing times, it does not take into consideration the natural migration of the salmon, nor does it take into account the weather, which is, at best, tempestuous, and even during a good week, interferes with fishing.

For the last two weeks, he has been lucky enough to pick up construction work—unfortunately, that has dried up also.

Our last source of income, our rental property—a house and attached studio—continues (cross our fingers) to bring in rent. I feel really lucky and grateful to have both of our renters.

So.

In the coming days, I plan to do a major financial overhaul—and I’m dragging you with me. My first move is to take a look at all of my accounts and thoroughly assess what I have, what I owe, and what I can do to improve the outlook.

I’m going to write about my progress and the steps that I am personally taking to address this sudden lack of income within these uncertain times. I’m going to try to figure out how to hang on to what I have, sort out the necessary, versus the unnecessary bills, look at ways I can reduce my spending. I also plan on shining a light on ways I am trying to make money during this crisis, as well as financial options, such as loans that are currently available.

Right now, the future is unknown. We really have no idea as individuals, or as a society, how far this might go. But, I’m not panicked–yet. I feel like I’ve been through hard times before—essentially I grew up this way, with ups and downs that made me feel rich despite living very frugally. I also don’t believe that panic and hysteria are healthy ways of living. Right now, I’m happy my family and I are healthy—and I want us to stay that way. Right now, we’re good—a perfect place to start.

 

 

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